The 22nd Degree (2019)

HD Video Projected onto the Marciano Art Foundation (MAF).

I projected salient excerpts of a Scottish Rite Masonic initiation oath on the Wilshire-facing exterior of the MAF, a private museum located in a former Scottish Rite Temple in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

I admire particularly one distinction made in the oath: that in uplifting the ‘laboring classes,’ it isn’t enough to make promises to the coming generation: the 22nd Degree initiate swears he will now give working people ‘themselves their due social and political weight,’ and he should die miserably in a snowdrift if he doesn’t. Even the Scottish Rite Masons of early modern Los Angeles, largely wealthy and powerful white men and captains of industry, still recognized their moral obligation to uplift all of society.

I found the text in 2014, doing research on early 20th century occult practices–at the same time the Marciano family, founders of Guess Jeans, had just purchased the Temple to house their extensive contemporary art collection.

As the building made the transition from one kind of temple of concentrated wealth and power to another, I knew at some point I would have to mark the building with this disappeared ritual language. In late 2019, after their employees unionized, the Marciano Art Foundation fired the entire staff, an act in keeping with the Guess’ history of horrifying labor practices.  In solidarity with the Union, I finally staged the 22nd Degree.