Salem 3 (a feminist Halloween experience) is a collaborative multi-sensory installation created by artists Clara W. DeGalan, Emily Gustafson, and Alex Tsocanos, inspired by the legacy of the Salem witches and the current American social and political attitudes towards independent-minded women. The event was constructed at TESSELATE Gallery, a female-owned and operated garage-gallery and residency space on the outskirts of Pontiac, MI. The sound, installation, and interactive performances provided a liminal space between the literal and metaphorical interior and exterior worlds where visitors could commune and unite with feminine energy, natural power, and the unseen world.
Salem, MA in 1692, set the stage for America's propensity for mass hysteria, persecution, and the burning of so-called witches. Though not a new phenomenon even in its time, this historical feminist tragedy highlighted the dangers women face who do not fit into preferred molds of society either due to martial status, class, race, religion, profession, intellect and influence. These women have been historically feared, suppressed, and at times, attempted to be exterminated or mortally persecuted. Their power has been seen as threatening and explained away as supernatural and of the occult (especially when they claim that power).
The atmosphere of 1692 Salem is not unlike that of today's social and political climate. We live in a world that is still quick to point an accusing finger at independent-minded, outspoken women and works to shove them to the fringes (physically and metaphorically). The artists of Salem 3 explore this legacy through sound, installation, and interactive performances. They speak to the complicated relationships between women, power, nature, and the unknown, challenging us to consider our own corporeal and spiritual positions within that framework. This exhibition uses Salem as a staring point to connect with those who have been "unseen" and invites us use the tools of initiation and communion - a labyrinth, an altar, and tarot readings - to ground, unite, and empower.