Nibei Did Crowley screw it up? I could bartzabe, that Crowley just called the name as much as he thought, but after the incredible attention to detail thus far, it is a bit of a reach to assume he would just let that name trail as many times as he wished. He recorded the results and apparently had a conversation. Log in or sign up in seconds.
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Snap Photos by Luke Gilford I had the good sense to arrive early and avoid the mob. An apparition parted the mist in the form of a figure wearing a red robe and hood. Wielding a sword, he solemnly traversed the perimeter of a black stage decorated with a blood red circle and altar. A pair of women soon followed, leading a blindfolded and bound figure who was escorted to a triangular area surrounded by mystic sigils.
It all sounds like something from an unwritten chapter by J. Huysmans, but the event was being performed live in front of a crowd upwards of people—a curious amalgam of artists, occultists, and celebutantes, who alternately looked on with varying amounts of anticipation, confusion, and envy. The auteur of this scene is Los Angeles-based artist Brian Butler, an icon in an occult subculture that has blossomed over the last decade. That, along with his ties to people with infamous reputations, most notably Kenneth Anger, have made him equally lauded and reviled.
Based on techniques of evocation found in medieval grimoires, the ritual was written in and designed to manifest Bartzabel, a traditional spirit of Mars in Western occultism, through a hooded person placed in a magical triangle. VICE: Over the last few years, you have performed large-scale evocations and related performances in galleries and museums across the globe—the USA, Mexico, France, the UK, Portugal, Austria, Italy, Denmark, and China—and created a body of work in which ritual and art are inseparable.
How do you do view the connection between the two, and what is it that appeals to you about public evocations? Brian Butler: I have always considered magick to be an art and my study of the occult inspired my vision as an artist. I also feel that the imagery of ceremonial magick is visually striking and has the potential to impact an audience in a powerful way. The idea of a public evocation appeals to me on several levels.
Technically, art is a work of creation, but for me it often feels like a manifestation of something that already exists on another plane of awareness, which provides another cognate for me with occult practice.
A public ritual performance offers me a forum where I can bring a spiritual manifestation down to a superficial level that the average person can perceive. Are there precedents for what you are doing, or do you believe it to be unique? What do you think the connection with ritual portends for the future of art and performance? Certainly there have always been artists interested in the occult, and who allowed that to inspire their work—it even became a kind of subgenre in early Modernism, but it was often hidden under the formal content of the work, as in the case of Piet Mondrian, for instance.
But the overt connection, with the performance of ritual magick as art, is something new. I think it is a step towards a more intimate relationship between artist and audience—I am reminded of something that Marina Abramovic elucidated to me about the occult in the context of performance, that the future will be one of a non-objective world without art in the sense that we have it now.
She foresees us attaining a mental state and level of consciousness enabling us to transmit thoughts to other people. The occult has often fallen prey to kitsch-culture, with what had been high becoming very low. Does the fusion of art and ritual help to elevate it again? And to me that has nothing to do with the essence of what Crowley was or what he did.
The recontextualization of the rituals as fine art helps to salvage them from that level of pop culture and allow an assessment of their own sophisticated aesthetics and cultural value. Gathering his power and reaching a state of exultation, he approached the triangle and began to chant. As the spirit of Bartzabel was summoned, there was a scream of agony from the bound figure—he represented a material basis, the object from which the immaterial would take form.
His body writhed in rebellion against the preternatural experience it was undergoing. Moving forward, Butler interrogated the specter inhabiting the man and swore it to an oath of obedience. Many within the crowd were wrapped in reverent attention as Butler solemnly tended his altar, but others were furtive. Fusing art and ritual in a gallery setting creates an uneasy marriage for those who fail to comprehend the solemnity of such ceremonies, and consider the events instead as a kind of spectator sport.
For The Bartzabel Working, for instance, the red robed figures were placed against the deep black background, where they took on an abstract quality. Moving but seeming something other than fully human, they created the sense of a liminal space. These swatches of dark and light congealed and dissipated to create the sense of an alternate, ambiguous presence emanating from Butler as officiant, and consuming those participating in the ritual.
Some may blanche at what had been secretive becoming not only public, but presented as a spectacle. VICE: What would Crowley have thought about these spectacles, and how do they jibe with his own methods? Rodney Orpheus: I think Crowley would have loved it. Do you think Brian is helping to spark a new wave of interest in Crowley in particular, and occultism in general? There was, after all, a ridiculously large crowd, maybe people for his Barztabel evocation.
I do think that many, many people hold an interest in these things and are capable and eager of comprehending it. Are the subtleties of such rituals too difficult for the uneducated public to really understand? As they say, "haters gonna hate. There are very few people who have skill in both disciplines.
Part of his genius as a showman is in the diligent care he takes to select the appropriate rituals—those that would not only entice occult experts, but also appeal to the general public and have a site-specific aspect. The Bartzabel Working is a perfect example. The oration itself has great appeal, since it was an attempt by Crowley to devise a ritual that would be poetic and inspiring.
Now, under the glow of a deep moon, Bartzabel was given license to depart. Butler will stage another performance of The Bartzabel Working in Berlin later this month at a location to be announced.
BARTZABEL WORKING PDF
Snap Photos by Luke Gilford I had the good sense to arrive early and avoid the mob. An apparition parted the mist in the form of a figure wearing a red robe and hood. Wielding a sword, he solemnly traversed the perimeter of a black stage decorated with a blood red circle and altar. A pair of women soon followed, leading a blindfolded and bound figure who was escorted to a triangular area surrounded by mystic sigils. It all sounds like something from an unwritten chapter by J.
Brian Butler Conjures the Demon Bartzabel
The Sword. The Torch [not in diagram]. In the South is the Censer, in the North the Cup. The Material Basis is masked, and robed in red. The Lamps are all alight. Washes M.
a walk into The Bartzabel Working
Tedal You are commenting using your Facebook account. Rolling along to part 3, we see the correct number of knocks. That number square makes no sense whatsoever. If your post is legitimate, please message the mods. I feel the same way. Welcome to Reddit, the front page of the internet.