Melanie Bonajo meets Olivier Halsman Rosenberg
Can political/biological/esoteric/low brow consumer/high brow art history be reduced to a visual language showing all is made up out of vibrations ?
The BodyGlyph project is something I have just been doing privately on myself for about 10+ years. I grew up reading National Geographic and always wondered why our culture lost this connection to temporary body art. I felt that as an artist, my body was my first canvas, and that you have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, so I would just decorate myself before I would leave. Eventually people started to ask me to pain them too, and it started as a healing modality that I called “Brainwash Removal Make-up Therapy.” A few years later I was traveling around India living out of a backpack, full of sound bowls, books and art supplies, and painting on other travelers. It was a beautiful expression of impermanence. In the past few years photographers have wanted to shoot my work, so I began collaborating. It was fun and I enjoyed this process, and eventually I just started to shoot my models myself. I shot in Black and White cause I have such a love of and connection to B&W photograph cause of my grandfather. I actually always avoided photography cause of this connection, but I am happy now to come to it on my own terms. Sometimes I hand tint prints, cause I like this play of old techniques and contemporary practices. Someone one said its like Edward Curtis’ ethnographic studies of the Native Americans -but from another planet. For me it’s a return to nature. A return to eden. A return to living in balance with the planet. I try not to have too much clothes except for the calligraphy I paint on the body (which is like a visualization of their energy body), and of course the woman is the muse, like nature herself, sometimes giving, sometimes destructive…that dance between light and shadow that makes up the pattern in the fabric of our reality. I like mystery, and this project allows me to explore this quality. I never know what I’m going to paint on the body until it happens, and the model and I just go for a walk in nature together and play out different scenes. I don’t use an assistant, and the models are not professional, just people I meet in life who want to participate, so it’s a very concentrated energy we contain during the shoot. I paint men too, but because of body hair, women are more suitable for the project. At a certain point in the shoot the “sister” that I’m shooting forgets she’s even naked cause she feels so empowered and at home in nature, so maybe it triggers something deeper with in our DNA from a time when we were more in harmony and so much mental energy wasn’t spent on fashion.
The color body glyph work was photographed by Polina Sirosh, the black and white by Olivier Halsman Rosenberg
Spherism as it stands 2013
Since introducing Spherism about 10 years ago into my art practice, I have used political/biological/esoteric/low brow consumer/high brow art history as my framework to demonstrate, using a visual language, how All is made up of vibrations, and how All can be reduced down to vibrations. Vibration; The great equalizer. Spanda; the doorway to the path to non-duality. The freedom that comes in understanding that all manifestations on the surface of the reality matrix we experience are essentially temporary waves of energy. From the box of takeout Popeyes fried chicken, to the Picasso painting. From the curve of the Fibbonacci spiral, to the structure of a micro/macro virus behavior. From the quark to the discoball.
And now, using Buddhist Tantric imagery as the visual framework in my latest series, I explore the symbols of love and compassion and divine union. Also, as part of my Spherism practice, I use Himalayan singing bowls to directly bring real vibrations into people’s energetic fields in order to move blocked energy. This spinning of a mallet against the rim of a bowl…this circumambulation…like a pilgrim around Arunachala in Tamil Nadu/Mt. Kailash in Tibet/the Kabba in Mecca, or a race car at the Indianapolis 500… this generation of energy through the circle…using friction to bring sound out of the void….a bowl…a sphere cut in half…A ripple on the surface of the water…concentric circles expanding into cymatic patterns and eventually dissolving back into stillness…they say the Buddha had a singing bowl, and the bowl itself was the teaching. The bowl itself. The something out of the nothing. This world vibrates around us. Our attitude emits a vibration, and the energetic grid work around us reverberates it and reflects it back…like an echo…like a halo…
Spherism aims to explain not just physical phenomena in a conceptual way, but also aims to create the impression that All is in a continuous state of emanation and dissolution, just like the thoughts arising and passing away on the field of your awareness. Spherism aims to give you more control of your life by activating your understanding of the subtle interactive nature of the reality around you based on the vibrations your emit.
Like separate ice sculptures carved in the form of flames, flowers, and food…they all can be melted down, merge, and return to their indistinguishable nature as water, and even disappear into mist. Like us all with in this billion light year long Unimultiverse, thinking we are so diverse and separate from the stars around us, yet we can all find unity with in our commonality as a temporary vibratory emanations. Does this not make you feel more compassion for everything, knowing that we are fundamentally the same? Awareness hosted with in quarks vibrating fast enough to give the appearance of being solid. But ultimately: awareness. Spherism is science with a heart. Spherism is mysticism in a wardrobe of art.
We are the One. The One that is the Everything, and simultaneously the nothing. We get to be the individual (self) as well as the total (SELF). The point of stillness, and the energy that dances around it. The lingam and the yoni. Shiva and Shakti. The method and the Wisdom. The Yin and the Yang. This Masculine and Feminine aspect is with in us all. Awareness (M) would have nothing to be aware of if it were not for Movement (F), and Movement would have nothing to observe it were it not for Awareness. This is the sacred union. This is the first duality. This is the big bang. This is the fountainhead of infinity…the colloidal particle building block, the tube torus that expands and collapses back into itself eternally within the black hole at the heart of every atom, to the black hole at the heart of every star system. It’s all so beautiful when you feel the big bang is eternally happening every moment with-in moment with-in moment…with-in your own body…your own awareness…
Spherism is a simple humble little art motif to tune you into the majesty and miraculous nature of the moment. It’s an answer but it’s also a question.
-Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, September 2013, Berlin
These drawing I made on the psychedelic tea Ayahuasca. . It was a transformative time in my life, I was finishing up a huge project in NYC and about to go to india, and for about a month I sat in 10 ceremonies. The first was like taking a dirty car into the carwash…just cleaning and releasing built up traumas from my central channel. The second was like a rebirth, and I asked the shaman if I could bring art supplies for the next ceremony. He was open to the idea.
The ceremony was very structured, every one sat in a circle in the darkness while the Shaman sang the icaros. Many people would just pass out, but the music activated me and I has just up on my knees, dancing with my hands with metallic inks I found that reminded me of the visions I had seen. So I was just weaving and squirting ink on paper. I couldn’t tell what colors I was using cause it was so dark. I was just allowing myself to be guided. As I stacked the papers one on top of another, I created these accidental Rorshack tests.
When the sun rose in the morning it was always interesting to see what had been created during the ceremony. Since the inks were so metallic its hard to get a sense of the layers of light from a digital photograph. When I went to India I decided that I’d rather reach these inner states with out the aid of plant medicine, but I am so grateful for the time I did spend expanding my awareness of all the different fields of reality that we are existing with-in with our our knowledge.
Melanie Bonajo is looking for what is someones inspiration, what is someones background, how much does the personal influence the professional, what is the role of emotion in the process, what is someones motivation. What someone dismisses. She is a visual artist who is selected by the Mondriaan foundation to work one year at the ISCP residency in NYC.