Exhibition Pick: Ryn Wilson

Charlie Tatum visits Ryn Wilson’s current show at The Front, where she explores the power of myth-making.

Ryn Wilson, Geometrics, 2018. Archival inkjet print. Courtesy the artist.

Ryn Wilson’s current show at The Front centers around an invented tale in the mythological land of Mirroria, where four societies—the Zodiacs, the Geometrics, the Mystic Nomads, and the Tropic Warriors—have fallen into a cycle of endless warfare driven by power and greed. In Wilson’s story, which is narrated through a six-and-a-half-minute video, three goddesses decide to punish the inhabitants of Mirroria for their avarice by transforming all water into mirror, leaving them to contemplate their thirst and the image of paradise reflected in the glassy surface. A young woman named Jun sacrifices herself by traveling through the mirror and calling on the four civilizations to work together to smash it from the other side. Mirroria lives to see another day, and Jun, no longer mortal, becomes the mother goddess of the realm.

Though the show culminates in the video projected in The Front’s back gallery recapping Jun’s mission, all four rooms are filled with photographs, sculptures, fabric banners, and costumes, serving as relics of Mirroria’s past: boldly colored kaftans worn by the Geometrics, small painted vases arranged as an altar, an image of a Zodiac dancer in a black leotard and an animal mask. This multidisciplinary approach suits Wilson’s aim of imagining an entire world, and these faux relics give a fuller, yet still cryptic, understanding of Mirroria and its populations. While the story might not make the most literal sense, mythology rarely does. But true to mythology’s intended purpose, Wilson’s fantasy serves as a means of escaping, reimagining, and giving order to the equally chaotic world around us.

Editor's Note

Ryn Wilson’s “MIRRORIA” is on view through October 7, 2018, at The Front (4100 St. Claude Avenue) in New Orleans.