While walking to the opening of Jason Covert’s CARNIVORA at 540 W 28th St, thunder bellowed through the atmosphere and lightening flashed the sky. The charcoal clouds moved ferociously. Suddenly rain fell from all directions, too much for my mini-umbrella to shield. I had no choice but to submit to the elements as I trudged forward. It was almost fitting that such a primitive rainstorm would usher me to this exhibit. I felt as if I had been sucked into the universe and thrown onto an alternative plane. I entered Jason Covert’s world drenched and amazed with works on display.
CARNIVORA is a multi-media extravaganza that fuses mysticism, ancient entities and primordial cultures. Through intricate ink and pencil sketches, eye-popping photography, crafted jewelry, a vibrant chandelier, aboriginal garments resting in ancient soil and headsets to provide the soundtrack, Jason produces a labyrinth of powerful, agathokakological beings and the children they spawned.
The potency of the entire exhibit was undeniable. The raw beauty of the works made me desire a time when nature was not just a program on the Discovery Channel and fire was a treasured commodity. CARNIVORA captivated my vision and absorbed my thoughts. It is a cosmos worth visiting.
Later I had the opportunity to ask Jason a few questions regarding the exhibit and the inspiration behind it.
1. What was the initial inspiration for CARNIVORA?
The imagery that is present throughout much of CARNIVORA, namely the
dueling faces, came about in the early part of 1994, almost 16 years
ago. I was doodling while sitting in a political science class –
working on sketches for a project whose purpose was to show you one
image when you looked at it from the left, and another when you looked
at it from the right, much like the fancy baseball cards from when we
were kids. In those original sketches the male and
female sides were separate, but over time the imagery evolved to
embrace both images as one. Even back then, however, the color schemes
were fairly consistent, with the female portion favoring warm tones,
while the male image contained cooler colors.
2. How did the discovery of “The Sacred Texts of Carnivora”
guide you in shaping the exhibition?
The discovery of “The Sacred Texts of Carnivora” was pivotal in the
genesis of CARNIVORA as it has become today. Quite simply, without it,
the exhibition would not be. As the translations were gradually
offered to me in real time, by the head of the discovering agency, I
was able to let my imagination run wild, pulling out details and
offering them a greater sense of meaning, or alternately suppressing
elements that didn’t appeal to my aesthetic and story-telling
sensibilities. I had long been intrigued by creation myths in general,
and to have access to something that no one else (or very few) had
seen before was almost too much: as though it were fated to be. The
myths informed the imagery by fleshing out the back-story to ideas I
wished to convey graphically, and gave me a general sense of the
overall “story” I was struggling to tell. Shockingly, it fit in
remarkably well with the themes I had already been exploring – the fit
was a near perfect one.
3. Why did you decide to fuse so many mediums in this exhibition?
In creating the world of CARNIVORA I longed to transport the viewer to
a place of elsewhere: I wanted to remove them from the here and now.
Though my intent first and foremost is of an artistic and aesthetic
nature, I also aimed to create a museum-esque atmosphere to help
celebrate this long forgotten world. As the best writers will tell
you, the Devil is in the details, and as such I wanted to offer as
complete a tapestry, woven of as many plausible elements from the
world of CARNIVORA as I could. It was my belief that by showcasing
these various elements that represented the World of CARNIVORA I could
more completely bring it to life for those that cared to view it.
4. Are you a believer in ancient myths? If so, which ones
inspire your art?
I’m a believer in the power that a myth wields regardless of the
religion or belief system it bookends. As to whether I believe in
certain myths, I would beg out of the question by stating that the
truth of a myth is less important than the actions it inspires in
those that do believe it.
As to which myths have inspired me through the years, I can easily
point to the myths of the Greeks and Romans, as well as those of the
Norse, the Egyptians, various African cultures, those of the Indian
subcontinent as well as from the Christian faith, the Native American
peoples, and the South and Central American tribes, and of course, the
first peoples of the far North Americas. I know it sounds as though
I’m pulling from all corners of history and the world, but that is
exactly what I’ve done in bringing CARNIVORA to life. More directly: I
am first and foremost intrigued by creation myths, or those that
explain how the world came to be. Those hold the most power for me
5. Art like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But if you
had the power to program the viewers of your art with certain ideas,
how would you like the viewer to perceive this exhibition?
An open mind and a childlike sense of awe for those things that have
come before. It is a pleasure to think of a viewer strolling through
the exhibition and nodding sagely at the work and craftsmanship that
went into creating so many different pieces of art, but if there were
even only one viewer who could remove themselves so completely from
the hustle and bustle of everyday life and view the objects contained
in the exhibition with a sense of historical reverence it would make
the show complete for me. Above all else I seek to create a
transporting experience for my audience.
Photos and slideshow: F.A.M.E NYC Editor