Barry William Hale and the Negotiations of Occult Performance
Barry William Hale is an Australian artist and occultist whose art and performance has effectively crossed boundaries between occult-friendly spaces and traditional arts venues. What I will be exploring in this essay is the interplay between the artist’s own conception of his work and the other conditions of performance that inform its reception and interpretation. While Hale’s work sits within a long tradition of occult performance art that seeks to both produce a transformative effect and introduce symbols and concepts to a wider, non-practitioner audience, I argue that the venues in which these works are performed provide their own interpretive frameworks that inform the audience, creating a layer of safety and social acceptance for spiritual practices/traditions that would otherwise be considered heretical or taboo.
occult art; performance; museums; festival; ritual; ethnography