The Libations series includes a substantial array of devotional and ritualistic works of art. Ranging from sculptures, in the form of classical libation bowls brimming with liquid offerings, to performance, with Petry loosing volleys of arrows - sometimes loaded with paint, sometimes bare - while reciting mythic tales. The series has evolved through it's multiple showings, and responds uniquely to each separate gallery space.
From the early Bronze age through to Classical Greece, and throughout Persia, Assyria and into Spain, Italy and France, libations have been made to the gods. Libation bowls were made from terracotta, glass, onyx, bronze, silver, and gold. In the 6th century B.C. these bowls started to be called phialai and were used for offering precious goods to the gods: wine; oil; perfume; milk; and honey. Petry has not only been making libation bowls his performances themselves are an act of offering, a libation, a gift once given, that can not be taken back.
The performance works reference William Burroughs gunshot paintings on wood from the late 1980’s but differ immensely where violence is at play. Burroughs choice of painterly utensil was not only an American one, but one based on his personal history (he killed his wife in a William Tell shooting). In Burroughs’ work the violence of the gunshot is to the fore, in Petry’s it is minimized and historicized by the bow.
Petry wants viewers of the performance to experience up close the power of an arrow piercing the flesh of a wall. For classical people, the notion of being struck by Eros’ arrow was a life and death event. Eros was always depicted as a virile male youth, unlike the Roman version of the god, Cupid, who was depicted as a baby. The arrow was the height of military technology and if you were struck by one in a battle, you almost certainly died. If you could remove the barb, the amount of flesh torn from your body and resultant infection was likely to bring death. Petry aims to restore the original meaning of the Greek story where the metaphor for love is being struck by a deadly weapon, the arrow, only to be reborn anew, in love.
The Libations Series includes:
A History of Thunder
The Fine Art Society
29 February - 24 March
BBC World Service Interview 22 Jan 2016
A Twist in Time
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
4 July - 1 March 2016
Eros and Thanatos
Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe
October 25 - November 24, 2014
Link to website
Video of the performance
Libations to Eros
Palm Springs Art Museum, The Galen, Palm Desert
February 6, 2015
Link to website
with related paintings at Melissa Morgan Gallery
February 6 - March 6, 2015
Link to Website
Alentejo Trienal, Portugal
1 October - 14 November 2014
Short video of the performance
Libations to Eros performed at Alentejo Trienal, The Fine Art Society and Palm Springs Art Museum
Libation Bowls installed at Alentejo Trienal, Fine Art Society, Melissa Morgan Fine Art, and Pallant House
Eros Paintings installed at Melissa Morgan Fine Art
Libation to the Gods, 24k gold on marble