DRYPAINTING MADE IN ESSEN - 1989
We made the images of the Earth (white) and Sky (black) on the floor of the Kunsthaus Gallery Essen - Germany. The work took
two of us five days to make. The techniques and materials we used differ considerably from those used traditionally.
The paintings are made from powdered material strewn on the ground.
Navajo ‘Sand-paintings’ (drypaintings): The paintings may be used to heal or to ‘bless’ and are traditionally made as a communal activity within the tribe. They form part of rituals, referred to as ‘Chants’ (song being a most vital ingredient). These ceremonies can last for up to eight days and include chanting, sweating, cleansing, dancing, feasting etc. The paintings gained their form in an intricate mythical history of spiritual communication with The Sun, The Moon, a particular deity of fertility (Changing Woman), ‘sacred spirits’ (the Slayer Twins) and active aspects of nature referred to as ‘Yei’. Healing ceremonies involve a patient laying on the painting and engaging in various activities overseen by a ‘Singer’ (Medicine Man). The process is not ‘shamanic’ and yet nor is it ‘therapeutic’ (in the normal Western sense). It is a communal act of association between man and natural spirits by direct communication and interaction – it is performed in order to restore the world (and by implication the patient) to a natural state of equilibrium and ‘long life happiness’.
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Photographs by Kunshaus Essen