Sperm Cult

November 11January 5, 2019

Elijah Burgher
ektor garcia
Richard Hawkins
Ryan M Pfeiffer + Rebecca Walz
Ariana Reines & Oscar Tuazon
Scott Treleaven

Richard Hawkins and Elijah Burgher, Sperm Cult–The PDF Supplement, 2018

Our origins are in sex. And so too are our origin stories, from rudimentary creation myths to the most widespread of organized religions. Venerating the forces of creation in their sexual guise is as old as the species itself. As a central aspect of being, procreation is a metaphor for creation and existence in a fundamental and more general sense. Sex in sacred terms is how we speak of generation and regeneration, from the conception of the universe to the sprouting of crops. These metaphors are at the core of all that falls under the rubric of culture. It is hardly surprising that our earliest talismanic objects should be attributed to fertility cults wherein lie the origin of art; an origin the exhibition Sperm Cult suggests we never left.

Sperm Cult is a group exhibition featuring eight artists. It developed out of a collaborative book project of the same name by Elijah Burgher and Richard Hawkins. The initial collaboration featured elements of each artist’s practice; Burgher’s interest in the occult and Hawkins’ interest in ethnographic sexual taboos and rituals. For the exhibition, Burgher and Hawkins were invited to re-conceive the project wholesale, soliciting the participation of other artists whose work shares similar themes of sex, sexuality, transgression, desire, and ritual.

If societies are founded upon a sexual matrix, the heart of which is reproduction of the species, then sexual cults and subcultures of every stripe, past and present, represent a boundary from which to critique and theorize society at its most fundamental level. Such is the case with Sperm Cult. As its title makes clear, Sperm Cult is an unabashedly phallocentric affair. It features post-industrial herms (Reines & Tuazon); visual hexes and sex magic (Burgher); photographic flights of homosocial and homosexual fantasy in a variety of psychedelic colors (Hawkins/Burgher); filigree fetishes and a witchy chain logotype (garcia); the Salivation Army’s cultic call to arms (Treleaven); and an art historical survey that is less a linear trajectory and more a circle beginning with paleolithic fertility cults and ending with Forrest Bess (Pfeiffer+Walz).

Lead support for Sperm Cult provided by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.
Major support provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
This program is also presented with the support of The City of West Hollywood Economic Development Department/Arts Division. For more information, please visit www.weho.org/arts