Exposition Art Blog: Marjorie Cameron Mystery Babylon

Marjorie Cameron Mystery Babylon

Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel (April 23, 1922 – June 24, 1995), who professionally used the mononym Cameron, was an American artist, poet, actress, and occultist. A follower of Thelema, the new religious movement established by the English occultist Aleister Crowley, she was also the wife of rocket pioneer and fellow Thelemite Jack Parsons.
Born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, Cameron volunteered for services in the United States' Navy during the Second World War, after which she settled in Pasadena, California, where she met Parsons, who believed her to be the "Elemental woman" that he had invoked in the early stages of a series of sex magic rituals called the Babalon Working. They entered a relationship and were married in 1946. Their relationship was often strained, although Parsons sparked her involvement in Thelema and occultism. After Parsons' death in an explosion at their home in 1952, Cameron came to suspect that her husband had been assassinated and began rituals to communicate with his spirit. Moving to Beaumont, she established a multi-racial occult group called The Children, which dedicated itself to sex magical rituals with the intent of producing mixed-race "moon children" who would be devoted to the god Horus. The group soon dissolved, with many of its members concerned by Cameron's increasingly apocalyptic predictions.

 Returning to Los Angeles, Cameron befriended the socialite Samson De Brier and established herself as a figure within the city's avant-garde artistic community. Among her friends were the filmmakers Curtis Harrington and Kenneth Anger. She appeared in two of Harrington's films, The Wormwood Star and Night Tide, as well as in Anger's film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, and in later years she would also make appearances in art-house films created by John Chamberlain and Chick Strand. Rarely remaining in one place for long, during the 1950s and 1960s she lived for periods in Joshua Tree, San Francisco, and Santa Fe. Over the course of this period she had relationships with various men, bearing one of them a daughter. Although health problems at times prevented her from working, she produced enough art and poetry to result in several exhibitions. From the late 1970s through to her death from cancer in 1995, Cameron lived in a bungalow in West Hollywood, there raising her daughter and grandchildren, continuing to pursue her interests in esotericism, and producing further artworks and poetry.
Cameron's recognition as an artist increased after her death, when her paintings made appearances in exhibitions across the U.S. As a result of increased attention on Parsons, Cameron's life also gained greater coverage in the early 2000s, while in 2011 a biography of Cameron authored by Spencer Kansa was published.

Cameron's occult beliefs closely impacted her artworks.According to The Huffington Post, Cameron's artwork merges "Crowley's occult with the surrealism and symbolism of French poets, yielding dark yet whimsical depictions buzzing with otherworldly power".The art curator Philippe Vergne described her work as being situated on "the edge of surrealism and psychedelia", embodying "an aspect of modernity that deeply doubts and defies cartesian logic at a moment in history when these values have shown their own limitations".
Cameron's biographer Spencer Kansa was of the opinion that Cameron exhibited parallels with the Australian artist and occultist Rosaleen Norton, both in terms of her physical appearance and the similarities between their artistic styles.Harrington also saw similarities in the work of Cameron and the artists Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini.On the website of the Cameron Parsons Foundation, Michael Duncan expressed the view that Cameron's work rivals that of "fellow surrealists" like Carrington, Fini, Remedios Varo, and Ithell Colquhoun, while also appearing "fascinatingly prescient" of the works by later artists Kiki Smith, Amy Cutler, Karen Kilimmck, and Hernan Bas.In later years, Cameron would often be erroneously labelled a Beat artist because she inhabited many of the same social circles as prominent Beat poets and writers.Rejecting this label, Kansa instead described Cameron as "a pre-Beat bohemian, whose heart lay in Romanticism"Wikipedia

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