Madison Bycroft’s “Gong Farmer, Shit Stirrer and the Maiden of Grief”
              Vivian Ziherl
              On a recent episode of The Astrology Podcast, astrologer Chris Brennan and his guests reflected on the United Astrology Conference, held in Chicago in 2018, and noted a pronounced generational shift. “The Pluto-in-Scorpio generation has landed,” remarked occultist and astrologer Austin Coppock, referring to the surge of conference attendees born between November 1983 and November 1995. Visiting Madison Bycroft’s semiotically maximalist show “Gong Farmer, Shit Stirrer and the Maiden of Grief”—with its immersive fields of sculpture and smoke, furniture and video, combining the mundane and the mythic—I wonder whether the Pluto-in-Scorpios have landed in contemporary art as well. Pluto is the event-horizon of the zodiac. The third of the non-visible planets—a “dwarf planet,” according to NASA—Pluto makes its way around the ecliptic once in about 250 years, and leads transformation through bracing encounters with totality: with all that is present but unseen. Generationally, the 1980s and ’90s installation art of the Pluto-in-Virgo cohort (born between 1958 and 1971) constructed space with a nod to mediality, editing down ever more finely what differentiates “painting” from “sculpture,” for instance. Bycroft’s work, by comparison, is intent to manifest audiences in or as painting and sculpture. At 1646, viewers are ushered into an exhibition-world in …

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