Occasionals III

They lifted me into the sun again and packed my empty skull with cinnamon


Jason Dodge

Curated by: Chris Bestebreurtje and Petra Kuipers

Venue: Rongwrong - centre for art and theory
Binnen Bantammerstraat 2, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Opening Times: Friday and Saturday 14:00–18:00

Public Programme:
Opening, 16:00–19:00

Finissage, 16:00–19:00

The exhibition They lifted me into the sun again and packed my empty skull with cinnamon by Jason Dodge is the last in the series of three Occasionals organised this year in collaboration with Rongwrong in Amsterdam. This exhibition concept, which is an annual part of our Satellite Programme, highlights a single work from Tlön Projects' imaginary collection in a specific location.

They lifted me into the sun again and packed my empty skull with cinnamon was exhibited in six different locations simultaneously in the autumn of 2020: Athens, New York, Vienna, Paris, Brussels and Turin. The artist was explicitly absent. At Dodge's request the exhibitions were installed by stand-ins.

Absence is an important component of the exhibition. The title, derived from the poem Mummy of a Lady Named Jemutesesonekh XXI Dynasty by Thomas James (1946–1974), refers to the ultimate presence of absence: death. I remember how I died. It was so simple! One morning the garden faded. My face blacked out. The narrator, a woman from ancient Egypt, describes how her body undergoes the traditional death rituals as written down in the ancient Egyptian funerary text The Book of the Dead. The poem hovers without flinching in the grotesque physical reality of the mummification process, such as the removal of the brain — A pointed instrument, hooked it through my nostrils, strand by strand — whilst astonishingly reclaiming it as a last act of love: Hands touched my sutures. I was so important! The body is treated like an aesthetic object, rubbed with unguents and sprinkled with amber-coloured gum. Before I learned to love myself too much, My body wound itself in spools of linen. Shut in my painted box, I am a precious object.

The present manifestation of They lifted me into the sun again and packed my empty skull with cinnamon was assembled and installed by artist and author Becket Flannery who received a stack of missing animal posters and a found shopping list, as well as a series of specific objects: dried marigold buds, Bayer Aspirin adverts, batteries, stolen forks, an old T-shirt and red elastic bands. The shopping was unpacked in the space. The items gathered won’t be immediately comprehensible, but we recognise them as being edibles and cleansing, healing and ritual products. Using a score written by dancer and choreographer Alix Einaudi, Flannery, as the translator of a poem, interpreted the words, entered into conversation with the objects, and improvised to create the incarnation of this exhibition.

Jason Dodge (1969, USA) lives on the island of Møn (DK). For the past 25 years, Dodge has made sculptures and exhibitions revolving around absence, distance, haptic and visual perception. They lifted me into the sun again and packed my empty skull with cinnamon continues his habit of involving friends and colleagues in his artistic practice and borrowing titles and texts from poets for his exhibitions. His work reminds us of the indivisibility of body and spirit, that our bodies are linked to other bodies, organisms and systems, and that we are part of a larger mystery.

Becket Flannery/MWN (1984, USA) is an Amsterdam-based writer and artist. As Becket Flannery, he writes about art and the role of text in relation to artworks and exhibitions. He is currently an editor at the Netherlands-based art criticism platform Tangents. In addition to his writing on art, he performs and exhibits under the name Becket MWN. His installations often take language as their medium, but communication is not their goal. Rather, they engage with the construction of meaning as a process and a practice to open up a space for thought.