Chrysanne Stathacos 1-900 Mirror Mirror, 1993-2020, installation view, Cooper Cole, Toronto, 2020.
Photo : courtesy of the artist & Cooper Cole, Toronto

Hectic cycles. A conversation with Chrysanne Stathacos

Xenia Benivolski
Amidst the AIDS crisis in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s, the artist Chrysanne Stathacos emerged alongside peers General Idea, Robert Flack, G. Roger Denson, Amy Lipton, and others who were part of a ­generation that was impacted significantly by the disease. At the time, little was known about AIDS and its emotional and social effects. Artists generated individual and collective practices that had to address care, loss, death, divination, decay, and the spirit world. These spiritual and social practices were increasingly becoming a part of everyday life. Like the practices of many artists of the time, Stathacos’s is rooted in the coping mechanisms that emerged with the crisis. Her work speaks to loss and emancipation, cures and illnesses, protection, communication with the spirit world, and meditation on life and death. Today, Stathacos is deeply engaged with body politics. Through her practice, she critically reflects on a history of vulnerability and loss, and transforms its remnants into poetic compositions.

There are tangible connections between witchcraft and illness. Since time immemorial, humans have attempted to cast off disease through rituals in which the spirits are consulted, and substances, remedies, tinctures, and herbs are used. These practices come to form social spheres — spheres that invoke the tightly-knit artist communities of the 1980s and 1990s that suffered the loss of many members. The brutal pandemic generated ongoing parallels between spiritual and artistic practices. Now, at the projected end of another pandemic, and with yet another resurgence of the metaphysical and holistic in the art world, this conversation touches on practice, witchcraft, and healing for the moment.

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This article also appears in the issue 105 - New New Age

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