This town has a secret history of outlaws. Many of the old buildings were once free houses, some estimate over 50 pubs provided beer and moonshine for miners after their long shifts underground. In context of Industry, labouring below the Earth was almost synonymous with a prison sentence, but within these spaces there resided a parallel universe, where miners and locals could share a collective freedom only they would be wise to. Secret underground tunnels were built connecting all the old pubs so when district councils came on horseback to check the status quo, any evidence of unsanctioned activity could be buried and moved between buildings. https://youtu.be/_jhyoxkLExA
The illegal spirits fermented bellow the grounds of the town aren’t the only kind of spirits of interest to herrretics. For Susu’s show we uncovered one of these underworld spaces underneath the floorboards of the gallery, where visitors are invited to play a game. Converging pschyo-geographies between Sufi and Druid mysticism, Susu’s linoprint board game becomes a meeting place for the ancient spirits residing within the ancestral recesses of Susu’s and herrretics subconscious mind. The game snakes and ladders was historically a parable for the stages and pitfalls of the spiritual path within Sufi gnosticism. Susu designed two different boards - one where the ladders and snakes are equal - a truce, and one where its 5 to 7 / more snakes than ladders. The path of ascension is harder to tread than the pathways to hell. To commune with the pit and its previous inhabitants for spiritual ascendance is a reckoning with yourself, an invitation to unearth what convention tries to burry. How many spirits live in these chambers? Ethereal mono print drawings line the gallery walls. What are these creatures? Curious animals from myth, sometimes threatening, wild and untamed? Wrathful guardians are not necessarily hostile, they only appear so to the aspects of our consciousness unpolished by obstacles within.
Instructions for CHAMBER X: Descend into the pit. You will find two games. One in each corner, one equal opportunity. Circle the room with your eyes closed until you feel the onset of nausea. Stand still and turn intuitively towards a direction. Open your eyes. The game you are facing is the game you will play. You will find four sticks from an Ash tree. They are your dice. Hold all four sticks in your hand and let them drop. Count the sticks that fall untouched. Discount the sticks that are touching. Example: two sticks overlapping means minus two sticks, two solitary sticks untouched are counted. 4 - 2 = move two spaces. Possible movements 1 - 4. Place the pawn on one square in any corner of the board. Choose to move clockwise or anti-clockwise and keep the direction until the final 10th throw of the dice. Move the pawn in a snake like fashion across the squares of the board one row at a time. On the final 10th throw observe the position of the pawn. You will have landed in one of three worlds. The first circle, the Firmament (a ladder), the second circle, the midworld (empty space), or the third circle, the Inworld (a snake). Acknowledge your position and close your eyes to hear the message within. The first circle draws upon the wisdom of the Shapers, the waters of the sky, by way of an immram. The second circle is experience itself in this present moment, in the empty space between things. The mundane world that is familiar in immediate ways but Otherworldly in other aspects, found by the spiritual teachings in relationships to the inhabitants around us, other humans, animals, and fungi. The third circle is the deep descent into Annwn, the waters below in infernal abode, the realm of guardians that take on a wrathful aspect. Here we connect to the roots of the world tree, and discover the wisdom held deep within our bones, the fiery cauldron of wombs, and the shadows of the deceased.
“I had a vision and thought I saw It - but it was just another creature It had made, a fictional system totems without kin citizens of the pit. When I asked about the nature of knowledge It answered Return to yourself. Come and play the game.” -Susu Laroche