An individual’s personal history is a minefield fraught with untested pathways. How do you formulate a language to delve into that field in order to articulate your beliefs? What if, as a result, you realize that you are an unbeliever?
In reflection of these questions, the NARS Foundation is delighted to announce its third annual Juried Solo Exhibition, Preventative Measures, featuring a multifaceted installation by artist Reilly Sinanan. Sinanan was selected by Eric Shiner, Director, The Andy Warhol Museum. Reflecting on his work, Shiner states:
Conflict, it seems, is part of the human condition, fully inescapable despite all that we do to find some semblance of peace, of harmony. Each time we open a newspaper or turn on CNN, we are visually confronted with the next big disaster, the latest shooting or the war of the day. I selected Reilly Sinanan as my top choice because of his unabashed decision to highlight his personal inner conflict with society and religion and his ability to ultimately turn these histories and experiences into a fully-formed, provocative and engaging installation.
In Preventative Measures, Sinanan grapples with his personal history of a decade within the Pentecostal Church by reflecting on the act of drowning by water baptism. Within the Pentecostal Church, a water baptism serves as an outward symbol and act of the acceptance of the recipient’s conversion. The nature of the baptism is full immersion, done in a baptismal pool or open water, and as a result, there have been cases of reported accidental drowning during baptism. The water baptism is a public acknowledgement of a conversion that has already taken place and serves as a public beginning to a religious life. Using the act of drowning as a stand-in for his own experience, Sinanan struggles to create a new language capable of expressing his loss and uncertainty. The sustained state of drowning portrayed through multiple mediums and devices serves to explore his violent inner conflict and bring to life its inevitable resolution of disbelief.
The seven pieces that make up the installation of Preventative Measures form a cohesive examination of Sinanan’s struggle. In the media, drowning is often depicted as a violent flailing of limbs and struggle for life. In real life, it is much more subtle and seductive, a smooth descent into darkness. The minimalist pieces within the exhibition give form to that descent. Black and white images depicting an adult baptism form the centerpiece while small boat cast in salt, stacked wooden dollies, and blank flags all add to the confusion that allows the audience to relate to the artist.
Reilly Sinanan is a visual artist and recovering theologian currently living and working in Seattle, WA. His work is largely informed by a decade-long involvement in the Pentecostal Church and frequently explores related themes such as religious fanaticism, salvation and invented languages, which he describes as a sort of “contemporary glossolalia.” His work has been exhibited throughout Seattle at venues such as SOIL Gallery, METHOD, The Hedreen, Fred Wildlife Refuge, The Chapel Performance Space, Velocity Dance Center and On the Boards. Reilly received his BFA from Cornish College of the Arts and his AA in Biblical studies and Strategic Church Leadership from Logos Bible College.