Ajean Lee Ryan


Final Trickery, Ajean Ryan, 2012

July 13 – August 29, 2012

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.
-Guy Debord

My recent work involves my curiosity regarding rituals, ceremonies and spectacles.  According to Debord, the spectacle is something interceded through mass media’s imagery and not based on lived experience. My initial research began with our society’s fascination with royalty and notions of living our lives through the lives of others’.  The coronation symbolizes a royal and divine ascension ordained by the church and God.  It is the ultimate religious spectacle.

Also of interest to me is the pomp and circumstance usually related to religiously-ordained royal ceremonies.  In opposition to the austere and minimal, I have learned to embrace my absurd love of all things lavish and profuse with ornamentation.  The incremental gesture of accumulating and layering my motifs is at the forefront of how I create my drawings and sculptures.

My interest in the role of women in circuses as animal tamers stems from my initial love of early hand-drawn Barnum and Bailey circus posters from the turn of the 20th century and Angela Carter’s novel, “Nights at the Circus”.  Both of these influences led me to explore notions of the “beauty and the beast” mystique of women who worked in circuses as well as the post-feminist structure of gender roles, language and historical research of circuses at the turn of the century.