Critical Trilogy

a critic's millennial journey

TANYA RAGIR: EXPLODING THE 21ST CENTURY PROTOTYPE

“Humanity,” said Edgar Allan Poe, “is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller.”

And will she not soon appear?  The woman who shall vindicate their birthright for all women, who shall teach them what to claim, and how to use what they obtain?
…she must teach us to give her the fitting name.

Margaret Fuller, “Woman in the Nineteenth Century”

"Carole" by Tanya Ragir, unfired clay, 2009, 42"x29"x15"

Our collaboration began when I was in the throes of possession, so it seemed, by Margaret Fuller’s ghost.  On January 7, halfway between the lunar eclipse on December 31 and the solar eclipse taking place during the inferior conjunction of Venus with the Sun, I met Tanya Ragir at the opening of a CAN group exhibition at 580 Eighth Avenue.  My first reaction to the presence  that commanded the entire gallery: “Oh, here is my self-portrait!”   Carole (left) emanated such beauty!
Tanya gave me the book she made of her series, entitled “Woman That I Love.”  It was such an amazing book; the statements of her inspirations so riveting, it gave an entirely new meaning to the word “model.”  Prototype?!  Collaborators?!!  Excavators??  Yes, indeed.  I immersed myself in the book and fell asleep with it under the covers!
This encounter with the glowing Tanya and her art coincided with my full conscious awareness of my body.  I knew I was about to lose a lot of weight and I was just loving feeling so centered in my bulk!  I have never been pregnant, but I knew that is what it must feel like for a woman who is just about to give birth — a body just blooming!!
I returned to the gallery on January 21 to give a talk on sacred geometry.  HP reminded me that Rosslyn Chapel was designed after the Holy of the Holies in the Temple of Solomon — and it was amazing to have this connection at this stage of my journey: HP knows so much about the Templars and their treasure at the root of the western mystery tradition that I have attempted to penetrate in many, many lifetimes.
Afterwards, I experienced the reaction of Richard Move (below) to Tanya’s art, which lovingly reveals traces of the feminine hand that birthed it.  This man who truly reveres women was taken aback by the resonant power of this work.  I feel that Tanya has captured in her material — literally the earth —  a reflection of her own containment of the “sacred marriage” and transmitted the inner glow of the archetype to the observer/participant.  Her project, “Lifesize Pieces of the Woman I Love,” is the very definition of “sacred in the material” the all encompassing lover of the Goddess, transmitted through the Kundalini in the body.
As I was putting together my next exhibition, Woman of the Twenty-First Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage,” I had a powerful vision of Tanya creating a signature work from the fragments of the female body that I viewed on a grid in the gallery. (photo above).  They needed to be in the shape of the hexagon.  Here is why…

"Margaret Fuller" with the frontspiece of "Woman in the Nineteenth Century" at the UU Church in Cambridge; May 23, 2009

Margaret Fuller 199 birthday celebration at First Parish Cambridge; May 23, 2009

Pierre Menard gallery owner John Wronoski (left with author Laurie James and Rob Velella curator of “Margaret Fuller: A Woman of the Nineteenth Century” at Harvard’s Houghton Library) was standing with me when I had the encounter which completed my 12 year journey — from January 23, 1997 (below) until May 23, 2009 (left).

January 23, 1997; 12:25 PM EST, New York City

Seal of Solomon configuration not only represents the marriage of “heaven and earth.”  It was also formed between the eastern horizon (at 4 degrees Gemini, conjunct MF’s Sun) and Saturn, Pluto, Mars, Neptune/Jupiter and the Sun and Moon in opposition.
To ritualize the completion of a twelve year cycle of Jupiter in my sign, Aquarius, returning to my sun, I created in encaustic my own version of Fuller’s iconography, using her Roman portrait inside a hexagon over her birth chart, all surrounded by the Uroboros.  It felt a lot like a magical ritual.  Perhaps, that is why I felt possessed by Fuller’s ghost!
Tanya Ragir sculpting sacred geometry for the 21st century
I had this idea stuck in my head, along with Poe’s interpretation of Margaret as a hermaphroditic being, which really amused me.  I had this idea that the feminine figure embodied as the hexagon needed to have a penis.  This was a private joke that I carried through my journey, all through my journey, where I announced to the committee in the historical setting of the Lexington UU Church that I decided I was going to put photos of Richard Move performing as Martha Graham in the exhibition, after he told me about opening up a book he had just received on ghosts in early New England literature and opened the page to Margaret Fuller!  Their startled reaction was that I was pushing my theme to the outer edge.  I didn’t tell them about my vision of the penis at the point of the lower triangle in Tanya’s hexagram!
I returned home that night, February 24, and immediately set to work e-mailing diagrams compiled on the Seal of Solomon, or Hexagon from my unpublished Sacred Marriage Handbook.

The hexagram is formed from two interlocking triangles, representing the integration of

Feminine: LOWER triangle, symbol is the chalice

Masculine UPPER triangle, symbol is the blade

The masculine is POSITIVE (+), OUT TAKE

The feminine is NEGATIVE (-), IN TAKE

  1. 6.  –  THIRD EYE
  2. 5.  + THROAT
  3. 4.  –  HEART
  4. 3.  + SOLAR PLEXUS
  5. 2. –   GENITALS
  6. 1.  +  ROOT/BASE OF THE SPINE

For Fuller, “masculine and feminine represent both sides of the great radical dualism,” each “perpetually passing into one another” so that there is no wholly masculine man and no purely feminine woman.”  In Woman of the Nineteenth Century she identifies the characteristics of this “radical dualism” as “energy and Harmony, Power and Beauty, Intellect and Love,” the first of each pair being traditionally associated with the masculine, the second of each with the feminine.”  (Hawthorne’s Fuller Mystery by Thomas R. Mitchell, p. 143)

I combine her “Sacred Marriage” pairings with my chakra interpretations:

ENERGY (FIRST CHAKRA-MASCULINE) + HARMONY (SECOND – FEMININE

POWER (THIRD- MASCULINE) + BEAUTY (FOURTH, HEART, TIPERETH)

INTELLECT (FIFTH – THROAT). + LOVE (THIRD EYE)

The Seventh Charka at the Crown of the Head is the Sacred Marriage of Masculine & Feminine.  These pairings can also be made on the Cabala Tree of Life, with Malkuth as the (feminine) Kingdom and Kether as the (masculine) Heaven, and Tipereth as the Heart the lower Conjunctio of Masculine and Feminine, placed in the center of the Tree of Life and translated as Beauty.

I still had this idea in my head when I finally called her on March 1.  Her immediate reaction was practical.  “I only sculpt female bodies.”
Thus began our dialogue, which I will duly record until the New Moon on March 14 when she promised to be finished with the work that will hang on far wall of the small gallery, creating a centerpiece and link between pioneering feminist performance art and the Russian (Yuliya Lanina) and Ukranian (Marina Tsesarskaya) myth-making through seven-stage visual transformation of the feminine into the hieros gamos.
There is a profound wisdom in this.  All along, I have been seeking the process through a single image!  That has been my Aquarian goal,  the single iconic image which integrates my two rulers — Saturn (structure) and Uranus (insight).  In her time, Margaret created this image of the sacred marriage for the frontspiece of her book — the Ouroboros is the self-devouring process the artist must go through to incorporate the purity of the crystalline form of the hexagon, the actual structure of the crystal!  So, in seeking the singular image, I was gifted with the imagery of the seven-fold process reflecting the passage of the serpent through the chakras!
When we talked again, she pointed out that Carol is the form of a hexagon, her arms raised towards heaven and creating triangles on either side of the body.   I didn’t even register this integration of form (heaven) and matter (earth) at all in my head, but my body told me I had come to some crucial conclusion in my confrontation with this work.  Which is why I knew I had to create this photo…as a ritual while Venus was still merging with the Sun in her inferior conjunction and therefore lost from view here on Earth!

Standing before Tanya Rijar's "Carol" with Richard Move, who is holding "Kundalini's Daughter"

It was so fitting to have Richard Move, the artist who captures the Aquarian Age Mythology connecting my literary search for “heaven and earth” with this physical embodiment of the icon in a 72 year old woman.
When she offered me “Carol” to exhibit, I confessed that I had been thinking about the deconstructed body.  She had a revelation.  She envisioned the body as exploding into the hexagon.  This really turned me head around.  I have been writing about “embodiment” all along, but the very notion of exploding.  So Plutonian!  My instincts said:  “YES!”  but I couldn’t mentally compute it at that point. I told her about my encounter with Aldo’s pregnant woman at the foundry, and she asked me to send the image as I was writing the post.  Here is her next communication, by e-mail:
February 28:  I’ve been working like crazy -thanks for the picture – here are a couple of my pregnant women –

Tanya's pregnant women

I’m LOVING what’s emerging in the core of the hexagon. Each piece is a revelation.

Here’s the thing….For me women embody the potential for/of everything. Women give birth – as does the earth – to male and female. That’s why for me the literal manifestation of the penis feels unnecessary to me . A fully actualized woman attracts an actualized man who holds and brings his feminine – and creates a whole, sacred marriage – that has been my experience. And as I can only come from my experience this is what is real and authentic for me.

I understand the concept of the 6 pointed star  – and want to make sure you know I’m inspired by everything I’m reading, but, what can I say… i don’t love sculpting penises…


March 1, 12:09 AM EST

But it comes from home. It comes from truly knowing your own beauty and strength and feminine and masculine … owning it…and embracing it all first.

Almost every woman that has ever come before me starts out by telling me what’s wrong with her. By the end of the “sculpting” process she perceives her beauty in a different way. Part of this is the reflection through another’s eyes – – bearing witness, if you will –   I think this is at the core of my work .
I love this relationship we’re building.


My reply:  March 1, 8:50 AM EST
This is beautiful!

What I had foreseen is having a video of this language either through you talking or on the screen with images of your process of sculpting “Woman in the 21st Century”  Wow. I just looked to my computer desktop after writing this unloading my photos and the last one popped up that I took last night, the Narcissus that I planted on the
darkest day, the Winter Solstice, in full bloom!
So, if you are game, send me some more images of you sculpting and I’ll do the blog entry BLOOM I have been planning around this symbol of the sprouted Narcissus with your images and words.
Love this relationship too.  it is like sustenance  to me.  Capricorns — the essence of the 21st century Woman
because they can truly hold the energy of the opposites
Also, want you to know that my image of the penis as participating is being played out through having
Josef Astor’s photographs of Richard Move performing as Martha Graham.  He just agreed to participate.
They are really stunning and I don’t think they have been shown in a gallery…So, you see how the inspiration arising from your essence (of the authentic feminine) evolves to engage men in this birthing process!!

March 4.  We had a long talk last night as I pressed her for a date to finish the work so we could use it to promote the show.  She said she could have it ready by  March 17.  But I talked her into having it done on the New Moon, March 14…

My lunar return, March 14, 2010

…which falls smack on my Lunar Return (left).  The line-up in Pisces falls in the Sixth House, the very place in the chart where the energy is most grounded — directly below the western horizon.

Venus rises in the West, headed towards her first conjunction with the Aries Moon as Evening Star, Queen of the Night.  The wisdom of the Underworld during her 60 day dalliance with the Sun, the internal conjunctio, will be manifested on Earth!

This, I explained, would be the ultimate ritual, the ultimate manifestation of my search, arriving in perfect timing with the cosmic convergence in Pisces, the sign of the archetypes and the collective unconscious.

What better manifestation of the pattern revealed at left (the evolution (Uranus) of the feminine (Moon) archetype  (Pisces) can there be, than being gifted with the sacred geometry in the material of Tanya Ragir’s female prototype for the 21st century!

March 3, 2010 8:44:16 PM EST. This morning, Tanya sent images.  I can see she was too busy working to write…

T

"Woman of the Twenty-First Century" exploded into the pentagram at the center of the hexagram


JUST LOVE!

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March 4, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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