Some Further Thoughts: Sembalance

When you look further into something, things are never as they seem. This was certainly how I felt when researching further into material surrounding the aptly named Semblance, an exhibition by Mani Kambo that recent appeared in our very own Hey Art, What’s Good? podcast (If you haven’t had a chance to hear the podcast you should first go ahead and do that!)

In general, the exhibition featured themes around the ritual and the occult with tools often used for divination, such as tarot cards, incense, palm lines and symbols such as snakes and eyes. Part of the exhibition included handmade paper made by the artist which had been made with lavender. Lavender itself is associated with calming properties and used in creating a peaceful environment for dreaming. Its physical effects have also been used to treat inflammation and may even help to create a positive mental state with its scent. However, the act of the artist putting a herb used for dreaming into a physical object (the paper) reminded me of turning your dreams into something that is physical. Along this same thought, the exhibition also featured incense made by the artist that was burned and filled the air with heavy, pleasing scents. Incense can also be used to induce specific emotional and spiritual states or the future. Unfortunately I can’t remember which herbs were burned (sorry guys!), but again, this ties in with the action of making a spell into a physical object or response.

Another aspect the exhibition explored was the future. This was shown largely through clay models of the artist’s hands that had some detailing of the palms and knuckles creases, and these palm lines were also present in some of the digital prints hanging on the walls. Surrounded by incense, in a ritual circle, the artist’s right hand (which I assume to be the dominant hand) can be perceived to represent conscious future or your future as an adult. The main lines highlighted on the print show the head, the heart and the life line. The depth and the continuity of the lines and how they intersect can be looked at in a number of ways depending on the ‘seer’. However, an interesting thing about reading palms is that they don’t stay the same. As you age or go through life, your hands and the predictions they hold change, so your reading of the future can also change. This was also present in the artist’s own maze necklace and what she talked about: that life always moves either forwards or sideways and never backwards which is similar to how you walk through a maze.

Overall, these things inspired me to look further and engage more with the art. The ways the exhibition, the artist’s words and the divination tools wove together created a story of how things such as dreams, reality and the future all move and transform in many directions and that whilst they may not move linearly, they never revert backwards.

– Ellie Clark

Articles used:

https://ladykira1.wordpress.com/tag/spiritual-meanings/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18053656 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312835/ https://www.ravenandcrone.com/catalog/a72/magickal-properties-of-incense/article_info.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmistry

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