Allen & Eldridge is pleased to announce Atticus Bergman’s debut solo exhibition.
Underwater Requiem assumes the appearance of a botanical ossuary and projects the qualities of a nautical reliquary. The contours of its identity and form are constitutionally atavistic and, as such, are perhaps best characterized by the following set of facts, which pertain to the love life of Rudolph Valentino: On November 6, 1919, Rudolph Valentino married Jean Acker, a notorious lesbian. Directly following their wedding, Acker locked her new husband out of their hotel room and ran off to join her girlfriend, effectively ending their marriage a mere six hours after it began.
On May 14, 1922, Rudolph Valentino eloped to Mexico with his new fiancée, Natacha Rambova, whom he then married without waiting for his first marriage to be officially neutralized by California law—an act which promptly landed him in jail on charges of bigamy.
When Rudolph Valentino unexpectedly died on August 22, 1923, the press-savvy actress Pola Negri swiftly declared that he had recently proposed to her, and therefore claimed the role of his grieving widow—a turn of events which Rudolph Valentino, being dead, was unable to dispute. For his funeral, Negri ordered a bouquet of 1,000 red and white roses, which conveniently spelled out the word POLA. She could often be spotted in front of this bouquet, fainting repeatedly until she was quite certain that her debilitating sorrow had been captured, as lyrically as possible, by every photographer in the vicinity.
Subsequent to the event of his death, Rudolph Valentino participated in not one, but two funerals—one on each coast. In between, his remains traveled across the country on a locomotive which was often unable to advance because of the large numbers of weeping girls who would lay themselves across the tracks in front of it, hoping to be killed by the funeral procession of the man who, by departing the world of the living, had abruptly deprived their lives of meaning.
For the next several decades, Natacha Rambova claimed to be in regular contact with her (posthumously un-estranged) husband through a spirit medium, thereby violating the principle of the requiem mass that had been performed following his sudden death in New York.
It should be noted that the word requiem derives its meaning from the Latin word for repose. Historically, requiems have been performed with the express purpose of putting the dead firmly and enduringly to rest. The place of the requiem in ecclesiastical tradition can be traced to a passage in the biblical apocrypha, wherein the sinners of the world are instructed to prepare themselves for eternal sleep in advance of the end of the world—an end which is declared to be approaching swiftly, and with inexorable finality.
Underwater Requiem features an immersive environment, conceived by the artist to choreograph both the insomnia and the sleep of the dead. The exhibition is comprised of 10 Crayola®️ crayon drawings on paper, interred within a monochromatic symphony of white – white frames, white plants, white floors, white walls – within which the viewer is submerged, or even drowned. An accompanying musical score and scent complete this multi-dimensional, sensory transaction.