The exhibition “Alchemy: the road to the homunculus”

“In the world of alchemy, things often seem
not for what they are. “Lawrence Principe

C 24 October to 31 March 2015 in the gallery “RatsioArt” Planetarium in St. Petersburg (Alexander Park, 4) will be held the exhibition “Alchemy: the road to the homunculus.”

Alchemy. Who has not heard about the philosopher’s stone, the fifth element, necessary not only to produce gold from ordinary metals, but also to create an elixir of eternal youth and immortality? Anyone who has not imagined the old alchemist in the mantle, leaning in despair over the retorts? So far we have carried away the legend of the conversion of iron into gold, the creation of a small man (homunculus) in an ordinary tube. Although this ancient science … or, as is called alchemy, Hermetic art is, in fact long since ceased to exist, but today each one of us more than once in contact with multiple and contradictory images, is born over the centuries in mysterious laboratories, under the cover of night and mystery.

Many alchemy synonymous with the term “pseudoscience”: in fact a way of transformation of metals into gold and not received, and the elixir of life still exists. However, traces of it can be found both in science and art of our time. Modern psychologist will take as a good example of the human brain image homunculus. The romantic image of the sleepless old man unravels the secret “of Tabula Smaragdina” famous “Emerald Tablet”, scriptwriter happy to include in the plot of the next fantasy. Modern Chemical recall what the alchemists he owes his laboratory equipment, even improved. By the way, the word “laboratory”, we also presented the alchemists, whose motto – «Ora et labora» ( «Pray and labor”). It should be noted that some alchemists not only prayed to God. For example, the well-known Dr. Johann Faust (Goethe’s Faust prototype), alchemist and magician, who lived in the 16th century, according to eyewitnesses his son in law called Mephistopheles …

Themselves alchemists called its occupation of the art, the science: Artiste – chemist; artifex – Artisan, craftsman; but the artisan – artist (and the same artisan). Alchemy has always been linked to the mysterious incomprehensible symbols and visual images. Suffice it to recall, for example, the publication of «Splendor Solis» ( «Light of the Sun”, 1582) Solomon Trismozina where graphics figuratively describes the history and essence of alchemical knowledge. According to some critics, and famous works of Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) embody the alchemical-hermetic vision.

But what is the situation now? After all, as we have said, numerous interpretations of alchemy exist in the consciousness of modern man, and as a living fragment of our reality. We’re also continuing to try to create a homunculus, though not in a test tube, but in the form of artificial intelligence that is capable of creative functions that are traditionally considered the prerogative of man. We are committed to getting the recipe for immortality, for example, by cloning. Where leads humanity this way, a dark, unexplored, the beginning of which was lost in the mists of time, where once there was alchemy? What images are born in the minds and souls of contemporary artists in the context of the current perception of this ancient science? Or is it junk science? Or not science but a kind of cultural phenomenon that unites philosophical views, practical knowledge and mythological consciousness?

The answer to these questions will allow the exhibition “Alchemy: the road to the homunculus”, which will feature works of contemporary sculpture and painting, art objects, video art, interactive installations and experiments. The exposition not only tells about the ancient craft and outlook of the alchemists, and offer to reflect on the present and future of humanity. Visitors to the exhibition will be literally in the fancy lab, where, surrounded by unique works of art will learn interesting facts and legends about the life of famous alchemists of all times and countries, will get acquainted with magic spells and recipes, will be able to take part in exciting quests, and much more.

In the creation of the exhibition participants:

Hope Begunova
Nikolay Bogomolov
Viktor Grigoryev
Anastasia Grigorieva
Jaroslav Gaunt
Dmitry Dagas
Alena Demidova
Eugene Dobrygin
Lydia Erokhina
Yevgeny Kondakov
Alexander Makarov
Alexander Mushkin
Dmitry Oshev
Natalia Prokshino
Vyacheslav Rozhkov
Jura Tumasyan
Michael Filimonenok and others.

Curators of the exhibition: Helen Wild, Michael Chumankov