It occurred to me not long ago while I was talking to my friend Gilbert Vicario who just curated a show by Agnes Pelton, that, curiously, many of my favorite artists are called Agnes. I joked, that I was going to do a show called I ️Agnes including but not limited to... Agnes Varda, Agnes Denes, Agnes Martin, Agnes Pelton, and even Agnes B the clothing designer.
But more than just a show... This would signal a secret society for 'Agnes'. Never mind that the artists are from different generations and places and perhaps have never met one another...they are timeless, they are mythical, they surpass all expectations and social norms. In my mind they take me to the same mental space --- the space of 'Agnes'. Agnes as a mental space is uniquely both transcendental and radical, spritual and mundane, abstract and micro-specific. 'Agnes' is a fierce, goddess- figure who blazes her own trail in the face patriarchy and Art's trendiness. She is a solitary figure, imbued with her own vision and her own self-imposed standards, disciplines and rituals. She goes to deserts or fields she is with the land, she treads lightly, moves quietly, is deceptively minimally, yet her impact unfolds over vast distances and time and is revolutionary. You may find her in the blue chip galleries, the Avant garde film world or fashion world, and you will see that she is never a follower but a leader. Agnes is the one who communes with the spirit world and taps into both feminine and masculine energies effortlessly, her language brings up sacred geometries in nature, art and design--- though these proscribed disciplines mean nothing to her. Her art is her life and vice versa. 'Agnes' is a plane of collective consciousness and when you encounter her work, whomever you are, you too can be in a state of Agnes too.
Turns out the name Agnes itself derived from the Greek to mean 'holy'.
Gilbert reminded me that the character who played the witch-mother in the 1970s TV show Bewitched, was Agnes Moorehead.
Other important Agnes figures include, in Canada, the 20thcentury art patron, Agnes Etherington, who supported Inuit art early on and created a pedagogical collection as a university gallery; as well Agnes Gund, or 'Aggie' as her close ones call her here in New York's is known for her generous support of artists.
I ️ Agnes would feature each of these artists one at a time, meaning not mingled together...so as not to diminish or cross-wire the power of their specific electrical charge. They would each be placed in a tiny house out in the landscape, with a modest, but comfortable chair. One could choose to sleep in this space with the work. Each house would be a stroll's way from the next, so that you may clear your head. Cleansing rituals (with fire, water and soil) may need to take place between viewings so as to enter each 'Agnes pod' with refreshed eyes and open heart.
In these pods you may experience visions, hallucinations, flashbacks...you may cry uncontrollably. It is important to be alone. It is important to fast for 24hrs.
During this time with Agnes, you may feel terrifyingly free.