In folklore and mythology, the moon was a natural choice to represent everything the sun didn’t: instead of light, darkness; instead of truth, mystery; instead of order, chaos. It’s a deceptively subtle combination that informs art and culture on some of our most basic, instinctual levels.
The art collective Raudelunas — whose enigmatic name may derive from an “Armenian family name meaning moonlike, or referring to the worship of the moon as a deity” — carried the mantle for lunatic art and behavior on the University of Alabama in the 1970s. A new exhibition at UA’s Ferguson Art Center, entitled Raudelunas Exposition 2013: Zurich 1916 or Tuscaloosa 1975?, revives both the substance and the spirit of Raudelunas throughout the month.
Featuring original artifacts from the expositions the group put on at the Ferguson Center in 1974 and 1975, along with period pieces from throughout their 1970’s heyday – including group drawings and paintings, assemblages, sculptures, manifestos, posters, records and photographs – this multimedia exposition seeks to preserve the legacy of Raudelunas.
The exposition will culminate in a one-night-only reunion concert on February 2 at the Ferguson Center Theatre (the site of the Raudelunas Pataphysical Revue in 1975) featuring Anne LeBaron, Davey Williams, LaDonna Smith, and Craig Nutt. The concert will also feature two short films: rare footage of the Raudelunas members performing in a mid-1970s UA homecoming parade will follow the Alabama debut of the trailer for Icepick to the Moon, a feature-length documentary about the Reverend Fred Lane and Raudelunas by Skizz Cyzyk.
From the darkly humorous Dadaist satire of big band leader Rev. Fred Lane, to the wild free improv journeys of the Blue Denim Deals Without The Arms and TransMuseq, to the Surrealist artwork of Craig Nutt, Janice Hathaway, and Fletcher Hayes, the exposition aims to show both the breadth and depth of Raudelunas’ artistic endeavors.
Like an even more freeform Elephant 6 Collective, the Raudelunas stand as a tribute to the vision of what curator Lee Shook calls “a small but dedicated group of subversive aesthetes who saw no limits in the range of their creative endeavors.” Even if the exposition doesn’t resurrect some strange avenue of the hippie dream, it may remind a new generation of a time when art could be more unapologetically weird and more unapologetically free.
Raudelunas Exposition 2013 will run through February 2 at the Ferguson Center Student Art Gallery. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. A closing reception will be held on February 2 from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Ferguson Center Student Art Gallery, followed immediately by a historical concert at the Ferguson Center Theatre from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.