Rebecca Goyette
Fortuna’s Wheel
Shelter Gallery
179 East Broadway, New York NY 10002
September 25 to November 10, 2019

Left: O Fortuna!, 2019, watercolor pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches. Right: Pregnant Porn, Poolside, 2019, mixed media on paper, 18 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of the author.

Arcade Project: The last time I wrote about you, Ghost Bitch at Freight+Volume was just wrapping up, and there was a panel discussion with cast and crew. It inspired me to see the community effort that made the project possible.

Rebecca Goyette: Yeah, absolutely. Ghost Bitch was a film that I made about my great-times-eight grandmother, Rebecca Nurse, who was hanged as a Salem witch, so I was able to explore my ancestral roots in making that film. I drew heavily on the people I had around me in New York, but I also filmed a lot of it in Salem, Massachusetts, where I got to know the witchcraft community there.

Bitch’s Brew, 2019, watercolor pencil on paper, 12 x 9 inches. Image courtesy of the gallery.

AP: Ghost Bitch was so much fun! I loved the soft sculptures, and it was an incredible film. Speaking of film, you took an earlier body of work and gave it new life in Berlin, and the video is screening in this show. Can you tell me more about this adventure?

RG: So, these two female curators at EVBG in Berlin invited me to show all the Lobsta Porns that I’ve made so far, which comes to about eight or nine films. I said: that would be great, but I’d love to make one in Berlin as well. So we got a community together: when people came to the screening, we announced that anyone who wanted to be in the film could participate. Mostly women showed up, and I didn’t have that many female costumes with me. I told the women: listen, I want men in this film as well, can you guys help me recruit? And the curator actually recruited a bunch of guys from Tinder. We brought a great community of people together without knowing each other and ended up having really good chemistry.

Swinger’s Rodeo, 2019, watercolor pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of the gallery.

AP: I love the result. I didn’t think there was any more you could do with Lobsta Porn, but you did it. And now where is it? Is it currently screening at a film festival?

RG: Yeah, it’s currently showing at the Berlin Porn Film Festival, and this film has traveled all over the world. It’s strange because my dad had died last year and I wasn’t really following up on it, but I just kept getting invited to show it. I showed it in Italy, in Germany several times, in England, and then it got shown at a museum in Seoul, South Korea. And then I had a solo show in Seoul that it was a part of. It’s been all over. And now they are thinking of showing it at a big screening at House of Yes in November. It just keeps going.

Fortuna, 2019, fabric, clay, and Campari, 19 x 8 x 14 inches. Image courtesy of the gallery.

AP: Let’s get to the current body of work, Fortuna’s Wheel. We’re going to start here at the altar, where it all comes from. How did we get from Ghost Bitch, to Lobsta Porn, to Fortuna’s Wheel?

RG: Over the past couple of years I’ve been getting into different magical practices; I went a little deeper into it after making Ghost Bitch. I took a course last year called Glamour Magic with a witch and author named Deborah Castellano. We learned about the power of makeup and fashion as representing yourself the way you want, to get what you want. Another aspect of it was goddess worship. She had us make an altar to Fortuna, an ancient Roman goddess in charge of the wheel of fortune. Now this goddess is known to strike with an iron fist: you take your chances if you communicate with Fortuna. I was told that she likes steak, wine, and desserts, and that I could make an altar to her, pray to her, and leave these offerings on the altar overnight. I wanted a peaceful home—I was in the midst of trying to sell in my childhood home that I had inherited when my father died—so I prayed to her but I did not put out a steak. Deborah said: “She wants steak, but if you are a vegetarian, you can make her something else.” I made some paltry vegetarian meal for her, put it out, and all night long I couldn’t sleep. Fortuna wants steak. So the next day, I went out and I bought a steak and some proper wine. I made everything a lot nicer and I really felt like I made a connection to her. Several days later, I ended up unfortunately getting assaulted in my building by an ex-boyfriend who lived upstairs. I decided that I had to move out, plus I still had to sell my father’s house. It was a magical thing where something bad happened, yet I knew what she was trying to tell me: to break my old patterns of being in negative situations, or of being too empathetic towards individuals that I couldn’t manage to have a sane and rational relationship with. I had a history of misogyny and alcoholism coming from my father, as well, that I was releasing. Forgiving my father for some of the things from the past, and letting it go, and setting on my own course.

Fortuna’s Wheel, 2019, watercolor pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of the gallery.

AP: It looks like Fortuna’s Wheel is steering you to a good place.

RG: It’s about joy. This whole show is about joy, and the process of making sigil drawings has to do with joy as well. A sigil gets made like this: you write a sentence of something that you want to manifest and you put it in the positive tense. “I’m having a solo show in Paris, France,” for example. You take out all the vowels and the repeated consonants and you layer those consonants to make a drawing. Every drawing in this show is a sigil of something that I want to manifest in my life. I embed these into the drawings and then I don’t always remember what the sentence might have been. What I tried to do with this show is to make it inviting. And I really enjoy that people are enjoying it and taking pleasure in it. Because ultimately, what freed me from all the pain of things that I went through was my own joy, and my own pleasure in making. I love making these things.

Left: Fortuna Wants Steak, 2019, watercolor pencil on paper, 9 x 12 inches. Right: Pie Guy, 2019, watercolor pencil on paper. 9 x 12 inches. Images courtesy of the gallery.

AP: I saw that there is a program attached to this exhibition. Are there any upcoming events?

RG: We have one more event, from 12 to 6pm on Sunday, November 3rd: an all-day ritual with Deborah Castellano. We’re going to be doing a series of glamour magic rituals, and I will be sharing my process of sigil magic drawing with people as they come through as well. And then at the end of the day we’re going to have a proper witches’ circle where we’re going to honor Fortuna together as a group and we’re going to have a little feast at the end.