Check your fears in Fool’s Journey at Redux

Lucien Shapiro will present his artwork at Redux.

The last time I visited Redux for Lynne Ridings’ exhibit, “The Pulse Beneath the Surface,” I left in a daze with far more questions than answers. Far from the typical gallery walk-through where you can stand alone and admire art of various beauty, Ridings’ exhibit was beautiful but also intense and personal, an experience that stung me at my core.

Now Redux Contemporary Art Center will bring an intense and revealing evening of film and live performance on April 14.

Redux, a premier contemporary art studio in Charleston known for it’s boundary-pushing, interactive and intimate contemporary art installations, is once again demonstrating the quality and original vision of contemporary artists from around the world, as well as premier local talent.

For one evening, Lucien Shapiro, an artist who travels to various regions and is making his way from the West Coast to the East Coast, will bring his explorations along with his dramatic sculptural work to perform at Redux in collaboration with Shaun Roberts, who presents a film screening.

Shapiro began his travels at the Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco and will begin the event in Charleston with a film screening that explores the tenets of the adage, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” During this event Shapiro takes on the characteristics of someone slowly losing their senses and attempting to regain what was lost. Shapiro involves himself and his sculptures in this performance.

After that, a bit of audience participation will come into play as Shapiro shows a new film titled, “Fear is the Mind Killer.”

Shapiro performs a ritual designed to help relinquish doubt and despair, two obstacles in our personal journeys of self-fulfillment and self-actualization. He wields a “Relinquishing Vessel” during this ritual; a vessel that contains the contents of fear and distraction that must be released to proceed. To integrate the audience, Shapiro will ask members to write down some of their greatest fears to place in the vessel. Then he will carry those fears with him to his final destination on the journey and relinquish the fears of all his participants since the beginning of his journey.

The exhibit is appropriately named, “Fear Collecting Ritual: A Fool’s Journey.”

Though, to me, who the fool is is the ultimate question posed by this exhibit. It would be easy for an outsider to term Shapiro’s art as foolish or even juvenile. Those with less open minds and hearts may classify this type of ritual as “odd” or “unusual.” And when we lose our physical senses, typically we revert to a fool’s nature: think King Lear or Oedipus Rex. But aren’t we the fools for allowing our senses and our fears to dictate our actions in daily life?

We spend money, time, energy and effort to eliminate fear and anxiety and achieve happiness. Here, in the Fear Collecting Ritual, Shapiro is offering to be our guide to a cleansing ceremony. And he’s offering to bear the burden of the weight of our fears. Perhaps we should take up his offer.