Photos by Alex Williams.

Written by Jay Bowman.

Atlanta artist Travis Dodd (on right) with a gallery patron. Photo by Alex Williams.
Benched Ritual is new work by local Atlanta artist and SCAD graduate Travis Dodd.  More than merely pictures on a wall, Dodd’s photographs are evidence of the journey of the artist, both external in a physical space and internal in a spiritual space.  He makes a point to emphasize that “…I do consider the work to be physical work.  That’s why the tools are laid out authentically.  They are not displayed as art.  They are displayed as they exist.”

Photo by Alex Williams.

And exist, they do.  Within the exhibit patrons found the tools and the uniform Travis has designated for his rituals.  They were not dirtied theatrically to be a part of an untouchable installation piece frozen in time.  He will wear the uniform again as he continues these rituals.  The photographs on the walls are not the art, they are evidence of the artist’s inner exploration.  The ritual of “trespassing into the internal” as he puts it, is a key component in the duality of his exploration of the labyrinth.  In talking with him, he admits that stays away from the common conceptualization of breaking walls to get to inner truth.  The labyrinth has an entrance and you need not break in.

Discoveries are made about oneself by following the path to the center.  The surveying tools displayed in the installation are the ones Travis Dodd actually uses as he explores a structure.  They are part of his ritual of defining and understanding the physical space and, by extension, parallels his inner exploration and understanding.

Photo by Alex Williams.
The concept of the labyrinth is vital to the ritual.  As opposed to a maze which is a puzzle and a trap, a labyrinth is a singular path which leads to a center.  It is this center with which Travis Dodd is concerned.  He likens this journey to the compulsions that prompted Paleolithic man’s move into caves: an innate desire to find a place of safety and calm.  This center was a place where early man first crafted the early rituals and myths which defined the inner journeys of our ancestors.  He astutely points out that as a society “we’ve become culturally flat.”  In so doing, he feels that outside of organized religion people have become disconnected from myth and ritual, two things that humankind is compelled to explore and create and understand inner self.
Photo by Alex Williams.

Patrons are invited to view a book containing what appears to be some foreign, archaic language.  This is written by Dodd and not merely a visual exercise on his part to add a hand-crafted dimension to the installation, it is a visual representation of the rhythm of the ritual.  Browsing through the handwritten pages (containing dirt, smudges, signs of craftsmanship and work) allows visitors to see the hand of the artist in the project in a literal fashion.  The writings visually echo the photographic evidence on the walls.
It is also notable that the book is unfinished, with many blank pages waiting to be inscribed with the rhythms of future internal journeys Travis Dodd has yet to take, perhaps in labyrinths he is yet to find.We will, however, anticipate the ritual of completion and perhaps even provide us some insight into our own.

 

 

Beep Beep Gallery is located at 696 Charles Allen Drive Atlanta, GA 30308.  For more information call 404.429.3320 or visit http://www.beepbeepgallery.com/.  To see more of Travis Dodd’s work visit http://www.travisdodd.com/.

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