Dot Fiftyone Gallery in collaboration with 2b Non-Profit is proud to present David Rohn’s solo show at the gallery curated by Janet Batet to benefit the Camillus House Organization.
We know the verse by heart: “there is nothing new under the sun.” History is not a linear progression but a cyclic repetition. This path might be a vicious dead-end circle or a redemptive spiral if looking at ourselves in the mirror of the soul when revisiting the past. This is the starting point for Saints and Sinners. The Infernal Now, the most recent exhibition by David Rohn.
The Divine Comedy, simply called Comedy by its author, is an epic poem that portrays, like no other, human nature. Striking parallels between Florence, the growing metropolis of 14th century, and our contemporary global society where extreme polarization of political factions, pressing societal issues, intolerance, gentrification, defensive walls, and illnesses ravaging our existence, explain this new journey into Hell and back.
Like Dante himself, Rohn is a pilgrim. His journey takes place as an outcast traversing that ever growing -and invisible to the eye- dark woods that are the pilasters of Miami’s highways. Consciously, and for many years now, Rohn has displaced his artistic practice from the gallery into the streets. Self-portraiture and interactive performances in the urban dystopian landscape have become the sympathetic unfolding of the self that restores the dignity of the invisible people in our city. People perceived as mere stereotypes, most of the time pictured as sinners, when they are nothing but the victims of pretend saints, those who hold and define the structure of power.
Rohn’s artistic practice has been coupled over the years with direct intervention helping the homeless population and teaching art at Homeless and Recovery institutions in Miami. Saints and Sinners. The Infernal Now is a collaborative show with his art students from the Camillus House.
Structured in three sections, like the Divine Comedy itself, The Infernal Now uses the entrance of the gallery as a transitional space, a sort of limbo that prepares the viewer for the journey ahead. The main gallery houses the nine Dantesque circles, each of them in direct interaction with artworks from the Camillus House students, who like Dante, Rohn, and ourselves, are facing their own fears.
Making use of photography, self-portrait, and collage, David Rohn recreates intricate passages where history, myths, literature, symbolism and references to Art History are interwoven into a thorny fable of our time. Like Dante, Rohn prefers the use of popular culture materials (glitter, graffiti, color pencils, discarded materials) and atypical scenarios (urban edge spaces like freeway underpass, parking lots, mall entrances, Fast food restaurant exteriors). Gravitating around each of the circles in a growing rhizomatic structure are the artworks from the Camillus House students.
The main gallery is a recreation of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. Prisoners of our own stereotypes, we barely see shadows and act with fear derived from our own preconceptions that prevent us from knowing the other. Every half hour strange characters appear among the audience. The omnipresence of death makes us aware of the fragility of life and our role as activators of our free will and social change.
The last space is reserved for the pantheon of the Saints and Sinners, a transfigured gallery of that growing group of invisible people discarded by the social power structure.
Saints and Sinners. The Infernal Now is a cautionary tale about the risks of irrational fears, selfishness, and intolerance in our times. A poetic journey of self-awareness where the eternal cycles of decay and rebirth are enlightened by the knowledge, and subsequent action as the only path to redemption.
In the gallery project room will be on view a curated selection of artwork by the Camillus House art students.