THE RITE OF THE 360°
5 March – 20 April 2002
The Rite of 360° is part of "O-ism", a cycle begun in the late 90s, the history of an imaginary religion fantasized by the artist.
O-ism gathers a corpus of works about that fictitious religion inspired by the assorted and sometimes unlikely religious movements that appeared in the US during the 19th century. This particular faith is supposed to have arisen in the Finger Lakes area, sometimes in the mid-17th century. It preaches, along with the worshipping of a female deity referred to by the letter O, a belief in reincarnation, the backwards march of time, sometimes even a strict prohibition of any figurative representation.
Jim Shaw relentlessly defines and refines the historic evolution, the dogmas and rituals of that religion. Each work in the series indicates what postwar visual culture might have been, had O-ism really existed. The Rite of 360° consists of an installation of 14 musical instruments in the shape of body parts and an 11-minute film, takes as its departure point the Eleusinian initiation rites of the cult of Demeter and the related Egyptian myth of Isis who traveled across the land to gather the scattered body parts of her lover and brother Osiris.
The young initiate first symbolically performs the act of dismemberment committed b y Osiris' brother, Seth. In order to make amends, he then asks a question of each of the fifteen members of the O-ist brotherhood present, each of whom carries one of the musical instruments/body parts, hereby reenacting the resurrection of O-siris.
An all male ritual, the Rite of 360° dates back to the initial patriarchal takeover of Oism, when Annie O'Wooten lost control of the finances of her cult.