JT Burke's Paradise Circus Pops Up at the LA Art Show

December 17, 2014 7:34 PM

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You know how some people deal with thorny topics and controversies by using humor? Self-deprecating or satirical, comedy can go a long way toward defusing tensions and broadening access to complex ideas. Of course, sometimes it makes things worse, adding to perceived disrespect regardless of intention. But artist JT Burke is willing to take that risk. An immersive sculptural installation with lights and music and kaleidoscopic photography- and graphics-based visuals, Paradise Circus is Burke's way of processing fundamental and deeply personal questions about religion, faith, the afterlife, exclusionary orthodoxies, ritualized behaviors, and shared mythologies. But it's also a giant illuminated circus tent whose flaps lavishly and irreverently depict the salvation fables of several of the world's major religions, and whose main event cheekily encourages the penitent to seek salvation within its walls. What could possibly go wrong?

Burke was raised in a fairly strict Catholic tradition (yes, he was an altar boy), and, like so many who were, later in life began to question certain tenets of his faith. For him, it seemed both especially attractive and absurd that any single religion could have such a lock on a specific prescript...

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