“If I should die before I wake
Boogeyman gets my soul to take!
Run as far and fast as you can
There is no escaping the Boogeyman!”
Darkly confronting and disturbing, ‘Omul Negru’ is Los Angeles curator Aaron Moulton‘s exploration of the real and imagined boogeymen that appear in contemporary culture. The exhibition features an extensive depiction of the different embodiments of evil in contemporary culture, both in terms of the artists’ personal visions of the boogeyman and the infamous boogeymen that have plagued human history.
Recently launched at Galeria Nicodim in the exquisite Cantacuzino Palace in Bucharest, Romania, ‘Omul Negru’ features the artwork of more than forty artists, including two infamous serial killers. The exhibition was accompanied by a performance by Romanian black metal band Negură Bunget, as well as an ‘appearance’ by a real life ‘boogeyman’. As darkness fell, artist Lazaros (Jason Metcalf) performed a ritual to summon the spirit of infamous serial killer Ed Gein, the inspiration for Buffalo Bill in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ as well as the title killers in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and ‘Psycho’.
While the concept of the boogeyman may at first seem infantile in its personification of evil, ‘Omul Negru’ explores the way that the ambiguity of this figure has been utilised as a mechanism for control. Much in the same way that unruly children are threatened with the boogeyman by exasperated parents, the terror evoked by the dark figures in society can be harnessed and used to create adherence to certain behaviours and beliefs. As a faceless personification of evil, the boogeyman is a problematic character who can take the form of anything and everything that elicits fear, creating rich ground for society’s anxieties to run amok. In a poignant expression of this concept, Moulton has included drawings of the boogeyman created by his young son in the exhibition. The childish portrayal of the boogeyman, as someone who causes harm if certain rules are broken, illustrates the way in which figures of evil are exploited.
Curating this exhibition, Moulton has offered artists the opportunity to give a face to the boogeymen that haunt our nightmares. While the figures who commit terrible acts are often denounced as inhuman monsters, such labels only seek to protect us from the uncomfortable reality of what human beings are capable of. The visions of evil portrayed in ‘Omul Negru’ essentially reflect contemporary society’s own fears and anxieties about the dark tendencies within us, thereby serving to remind us of what lies at humanity’s dark core.
Artists: Daniel Albrigo, Will Boone, Mike Bouchet, Breyer P-Orridge, Günter Brus, Brian Butler, Church of Euthanasia, John Duncan, Damien Echols, Brock Enright, Bob Flanagan, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Adrian Ghenie, Douglas Gordon, John Houck, Jim Jones, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Ted Kaczynski, Daniel Keller, Mike Kelley, Marco Lavagetto, Lazaros, Tala Madani, Lionel Maunz, Asger Kali Mason Ravnkilde Moulton, Alban Muja, Ciprian Muresan, Steven Parrino, Hamid Piccardo, Ana Prvački, Jon Rafman, Sheree Rose, Sterling Ruby, Benja Sachau, Max Hooper Schneider, Richard Serra, Robert Therrien, Banks Violette, Ecaterina Vrana and Zhou Yilun.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour catalogue with essays by Aaron Moulton and Alissa Bennett, an interview with Dr. Philip Zimbardo, an anthology of evil words and images, and installation images from the palace.
‘Omul Negru’ will also be displayed in the Los Angeles branch of Nicodim Gallery beginning on August 8, 2016.
Caitlin Eyre is an Australian freelance arts writer living and working in Berlin.