Snyder’s art often requires intellectual investment and sometimes compels psychological surrender. In Book of the Dead, visitors must check their preconceptions at the gallery door to uncover multiple layers of meaning concealed within spaces, objects, images, and texts. With its easy chairs and ominous instruments of execution, among other things, this installation envelops viewers in an uncanny experience of terror, wonder, and bliss.
Upon entering a darkened space through an elliptical portal, visitors are invited to lie back, relax, and bask beneath the sublime glow of a video lunette. Through the next passage, another, more sinister seat awaits; eerie black lighting floods the chair from above and below, while text commanding visitors to “stay” presents a double bind close to the hearts of many Texans. Before emerging from the darkness into the lights, sounds, and comforts of the ordinary, participants must chart their own paths through a nebulous space akin to limbo.
Rather than merely altering an existing environment, in this project Snyder constructs experience. Themes of life, death, hope, longing, rebirth, and redemption interweave with the artist’s recurring emphasis on participants’ positions of moral, social, and personal responsibility. With Book of the Dead, Snyder invites visitors to consider art, like life and eventually death, as a multi-faceted, labyrinthine journey with surprises tucked around every turn.
Graduate Curatorial Intern