Alchemy in a pandemic

Alchemy is traditionally known as attempts to turn a base metal into gold. A lesser known alchemy was ‘inner alchemy’ where a practitioner would still their mind so suppressed aspects of the self come into ones awareness, are seen, felt and integrated.

With the containment, restrictions and austerity that the pandemic brought, a certain resilience was needed to cope with these circumstances. I began to feel that collectively we were under going a type of ‘alchemy’. With these ‘restrictions’ and ‘containments’ and often a lack of distractions, suppressed traumas seemed to rise, individually and collectively. The pandemic produced a ‘pressure cooker’ and the question that seemed to be asked, was individuality and collective, did we have the resilience and strength to ‘hold’ a space for these unresolved issues to be seen, felt and integrated.

This work is a digital installation. 197 mala strings, hang, forming a rectangle in a darkened space. A mala is a string of 108 beads. A meditator shifts the beads through his/her fingers, as they recite a mantra. A process to still the mind. The lighting of the beads to form a vessel shape, is a metaphor for, as the mind stills the vessel is created and sealed and what is hidden or unresolved is brought into ‘light’ or ‘awareness’ and transformed.

Each bead could be read as an individual or a community which is part of a larger community. The rectangle shape of malas is in reference to a room/house where many spent lock down. The concept behind creating a virtual installation as opposed to a physical installation was in reference to how in the pandemic we collectively were forced even more into a virtual world.

5 images in slideshow

Site Visit

Site Visit is an exhibition born of creative solidarity through the exchange of ideas, memories and hopes between the past, current and future residents of L’AiR Arts residency in Paris. Pivoting around the idea of the postcard as something sent across borders and the carte de visite as an object signifying meeting and connection, all of the artwork presented draws on the artists’ thoughts and experiences that have felt pertinent to remember, reflect on, and crucially, share.

The Room and the Spring

Artist Statement: I got sick just before I went to Paris to do the L’Air Arts residency and spent a lot of time in my room resting, hoping to get better. While sick in bed, I had a look at the prospect of going down to Lourdes, as a teacher of mine had mentioned the ‘energy’ there was amazing. I’m not a Catholic but was curious. I got some antibiotics, got better. Did a great drawing workshop, part of the residence. Caught the Louvre on my last day and then headed down to Lourdes and had an incredible experience.

This short ‘film’ is meant to take the form of factious digital postcards sent to a friend while I was in Paris. Utilising a social media feel, detailing the frustration at arriving in Paris sick, and resting in my room, waiting to get better. The resignation as the residency slips away, while being sick, then getting better near the end, doing a great drawing workshop and then heading to Lourdes and having a memorable experience.

5 images in slideshow

An Inch

This short film plays with our notion of fear. It uses and sends up the traditional horror/thriller genre. We as the viewer, are tricked into thinking we should fear something, when in fact there is nothing to fear. On a subconscious and archetypal level all the characters in this film, are attempting to interact, play or let out their ‘monsters’. This is a metaphor for our shadow side. The side we wish to hide from the world. The side we think, if it is revealed to the world, it will result, in ourselves being rejected. But when we are prepared to acknowledge, accept and even play with our shadow sides the power that the monsters/shadow has, just fades away.

5 images in slideshow

My racing, beating, melting heart and questions of weight and volume.

This is a time-based piece; a video projection of a racing motorcycle is projected onto a glass box with a heart carved from ice inside. Over time the ice melts until only water is left. This piece attempts to consider the emotional consequences of acting on desire. It uses the cliché, “My heart raced and my heart melted” as metaphors for sexual heat and desire and utilises a contemporary archetype for sexual drive (motorcycle). The process of the heart melting and subsequence rising water has reference to Archimedes discovery of weight and volume, (emotional weight and volume). There have been a number are incarnations of the piece since 2006, both as a live installation and as a pure video piece. Each time the work has been expanded and further developed. The first in being in 2006 and the final version having been completed in early 2011 as a pure video piece.

1 image

Balance/unbalance, anima and animus, the city.

This work was part of an exhibition, where I wanted to examine the city I live in, Cape Town. In terms of Jungian theory of the Animus (masculine) and Anima (feminine). To investigate the ‘psyche’ of a city. In traditional analytical psychology the psyche is always trying to create balance and health in the individual. I wanted to see how this would relate to a city. In this case Cape Town, a city that in many cases is extremely unbalanced. There is huge disparity between rich and poor. Areas where violence is occurring regularly to other areas which are relatively safe. In many ways since the first free elections in 1994, the city has been trying to establish a new model for it’s self. A post apartheid identity. I wanted to look at the struggle of a city in trying to deal with it’s past and how it tries to move towards a more whole, balanced and integrated future. The work then is essentially about healing.

In this work the grid structure of the video elements relates to the grid structure of a city. The images relate to Jungian dream analysis. Water in a dream usually has reference to the subconscious or emotion. A house or home, usually is in reference to the self. A dream consisting of some houses as shack dwellings and others as well developed, first world buildings would indicate, a deep imbalance in the psyche and these imbalances urgently need to be dealt with, to restore health and balance. A car in Jungian dream analysis refers to issues of power, status, vitality and sexuality.

1 image