Artist Jonathan Sims.

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False Door (2016)

Digital projection, wood, plastic screen.
10x4x7 feet
Governor’s Island, New York, NY

False doors were a common motif found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Typically carved in relief into the western wall, these doors resemble the entrances of grand temples, and are inscribed with a standard offering formula. I first encountered these doors in a poorly marked section of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and was transfixed by their geometric forms and similarities to 20th Century geometric abstraction.

It is believed today that these doors served two major purposes: as a place for offerings, and as a portal for the ka (vital essence or spirit) of the entombed to leave the tomb and venture into the underworld. The false door in this installation bears little resemblance to its Egyptian inspiration, but I believe that sacred offertory places are a nearly universal human concept.

Three pieces in the Sacration Series and the entire Ex Voto Series were originally exhibited in A False Door as part of the Governor's Island Art Fair in September 2016. An additional six Sacration paintings were included as part of And Invocation at a Moment of Cataclysm in 2017 at Flux Factory. These paintings serve as either offerings (ex voto) or sacrations (devotions). Symbols and designs are asemic (non-meaningful) as a way of focusing on the expansiveness of human ingenuity in language, form, and literacy. The paintings also employ bright colors and rigid geometric forms that serve as a stark distinction from their ancient inspirations.