Rampant sex and hermaphroditic priests

Transdisciplinary artist explores queer prehistory and religion in latest exhibit

  • Michael Dudeck, adorned with six artificial breasts, a gas mask and nothing else, acts as the hermaphroditic leader of the female religion in his latest work, Amygdala. – Karen Asher

The text beneath a drawing of a multi-breasted woman reads, “weaponry is the artificial phallus we construct / it is regalia of a uterus shamanism.”

To the left is a display of animal skulls; to the right are what resemble bulls-eyes with ominous messages written along the circumference, and behind, next to a table of weapons, a screen displays a woman holding a blade to her breast.

Intrigued?

Amygdala is the second exhibition of a 10-year project, in which transdisciplinary artist and cultural engineer Michael Dudeck invents an entire cosmos.

His work centres around queer prehistory and religion, and in his invented mythology the sexes have divided into two tribes, male and female, in which homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality’s only use is reproduction.

Amygdala expresses the cosmogony of the female tribe, followers of a warrior religion.

The exhibition, a combination of installations, drawings, text, sound, photography and performance art, focuses on the female warrior religion.

Dudeck, adorned with six artificial breasts, a gas mask and nothing else, acts as the hermaphroditic leader of the female religion, reciting excerpts from the Amygdala, the religion’s sacred text, in a language he invented for the female tribe.

Dudeck, adorned with six artificial breasts, a gas mask and nothing else, acts as the hermaphroditic leader of the female religion, reciting excerpts from the Amygdala, the religion’s sacred text, in a language he invented for the female tribe

Dudeck explained part of the mythology behind the project during the artist talk. There was a ritual that entailed 40 days and 40 nights of “rampant sex on a mountain overseen by hermaphroditic priests,” after which the sexes split and a schism formed, marking the beginning of duality.

Dudeck perceives this project as a “cultural infection to heteronormity” and one of his goals with the project is to make queer information common. Dubbing himself a “cultural appropriator,” Dudeck strives to create art that synthesizes aspects from various, and often juxtaposing, cultures.

Many of the influences behind Dudeck’s invented religion come from various transcendental monotheistic religions fused with various cyclical religions, mirroring the way he invented his own personal spirituality and identity.

In doing so, he creates an entire anthropology for these pre-historical peoples – an ambitious task that he carries out imaginatively and with a meaningful objective. His method and vision are unconventional and not at all rigid.

“The mythology is mutating as the project goes ... I don’t want to lock its meaning,” he says.

Dudeck interned at Union Theological Seminary in New York and spent two months working with famous performance artist Marina Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art.

It seems his time spent studying religion and art have given him a completely unique perspective unlike any kind of art exhibition I’ve ever seen before.

Amygdala runs at aceartinc. at 290 McDermot Ave. until Monday, Feb. 14. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12-5 p.m. Visit www.aceart.org.

Published in Volume 65, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 3, 2011)

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