veronique d'entremont: THEIR BODY BECAME (an antenna, transmitting the message of god)
Los Angeles State Historic Park 1245 N. Spring Street Los Angeles, CA 90012
Public program: THEIR BODY BECAME (an offering) May 7, 6:30pm-8pm.
veronique d’entremont presents a public artwork that reimagines their own family legacy of spiritual mysticism, bipolar disorder and suicide through the veneration of human ancestors and non-human kin. The artist’s installation THEIR BODY BECAME (an antenna, transmitting the message of god) at the Los Angeles State Historic Park takes inspiration from their ongoing interspecies collaboration with feral swarms of honeybees. Borrowing from a multitude of sources including Christian Mysticism, Sicilian folk magic, earth-based spirituality, entomology and developmental psychology, the artist re-frames the story of their mother’s untimely death as one of martyrdom and sainthood—albeit unrecognized by the Catholic Church. Through their devotional sculpture and poetry, d’entremont crafts a personal mythology that seeks to reclaim agency and find liberation amidst patterns of intergenerational trauma.
Located at the top of a small hill is a 20’ diameter circular tapestry, painted with gold lettering that tells a poetic allegory of honeybee reproduction, through excerpts from the artist’s text “Hail Holy Queen: A Novena To The Bees"…but we remind you, O Queen, your mother abandoned you that you might flourish.” In the center of the tapestry sits an empty adobe shrine, sculpted out of a mixture of unfired clay, cemetery dirt and the ashes of the artist’s mother. The shrine simultaneously refers to a backyard grotto that might house a religious icon, but also to the mountain caves in which feral honeybee colonies commonly make their homes. Over the course of the installation, the unfired ceramic shrine will evolve, reminding the viewer of both the impermanence of human-made institutions and the lifecycle of the natural works.
At the base of the hill are arranged a series of sculptural receptacles bearing purposeful statements written by the artist as a form of invocation. Viewers are invited to write their own responses or prayers and insert them into openings incorporated into the sculptures. In future artworks, the artist will engage these written contributions, and the ceramic receptacles will be put to use as sculptural hives for feral colonies of honeybees. Through a QR code provided at the site, viewers are invited to watch documentation of THEIR BODY BECAME (an offering) a ritual centering queer and trans bodies and inspired by Catholic “ex novoto” tradition, where symbols of body parts can be used as offerings that evoke gratitude or desire for healing. The syncretic nature of d’entremont’s work—merging spiritual traditions to yield new meaning—creates room for the frictions and contradictions implicit in the gesture of a queer artist reclaiming the Catholic rituals of their upbringing. Their Body Became (An Antenna, Transmitting the Message of God) marks an expansion of d’entremont’s spiritual cosmology, as the artist moves beyond the matrilineal legacy of their biological family into an exploration of queer mysticism.
Los Angeles State Historic Park is located on a site with a syncretic history of its own. It was once an indigenous pueblo and trading site for the Tataviam, Chumash, and Tongva people, a Spanish settlement, and over the last two centuries the surrounding neighborhood has been a cultural center for Chinese, Mexican and Italian communities. On the street behind d’entremont’s installation sits St. Peter’s Italian Church, one of few remaining relics of Los Angeles’s Little Italy, where a now-aging Italian spiritual community hold processions and feasts honoring certain saints.