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In and About Altered States

written by Lisa Gabrielle Mark, Paul Schimmel

MIT Press | ISBN 9780914357919

Hardback – 252 pages


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Each work in Ecstasy (an exhibition at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) enacts its own particular intervention into human consciousness. These works surprise us, question familiar realities, and suggest alternative ways of ordering experience in a series of installations, paintings, sculpture and new media works. Ecstasy traces two lines of contemporary inquiry into altered states of consciousness. One follows artists attempting to capture metaphysical conditions in representational form, as seen in the resin suspended pill paintings of Fred Tomaselli; Charles Ray's photographic self portrait depicting the artist on LSD; and Franz Ackermann's recent Mental Maps, representing cities using his own subjective form of GPS. The other trajectory explores the notion of phenomenological experience through works that disorient or disrupt. In Carsten Holler's Upside Down Mushroom Room, the ceiling and floor appear to change places, while Jeppe Hein's Moving Walls begin to close in on the viewer. Roxy Paine's 2200 hand-painted polymer psilocybin mushrooms suggest other possibilities for altering our sense of reality. Six essays accompany the artworks, considering such topics as the relationship of altered states to art-making; drugs and the process of self-observation in literary works; and the "dark side" of altered consciousness.


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