Context: These are dark times there is no denying.
During the 70s America denied its darkness by painting death and destruction in false colours. In Apocolypse Now, like all the monsters we hide from ourselves, the heart of darkness demands to be seen, and Copola shows the face of order superimposed over images of destructive chaos (Reiter, 1945). This overlay of images is so like the effect of shadows upon shadows that play across the walls of my room.
Each day, I'm drawn to the horror movie script of long-term effects of covid, the ugliness of systemic racism that's inside and out, careless treatment of our mother Earth and the comic horror of supermarket fights over an abundance of toilet paper.
And yet life continues. I go to work, I brush my teeth and sometimes I hide on my couch in a blanket burrito embracing the comfort of John William's Harry Potter soundverse.
There is an overlay of stress, the world feels hostile, but I wonder is this hostility the product of my own protective vigilance in the face of a primal threat? Am I seeing my shadow self in faces and words of others?
In the 20s, surrealist Max Ernst played with the similarities between human and plant (Lippard, 1970). He developed and used techniques like frottage to unmask unconscious desires and memories. While Ernst was influenced by the work of psychoanalyst Freud (NGV, 2020), I have been influenced by Jung's construct of a public persona hiding the unconsious shadow selves (Jung, 1938). The exercise is an exploration of my shadow selves, those ugly custodians of my creativity.
My study space is filled with plants who leave leafy shadows in transparent layers. I started with exploring shadows as frottage, starting with the static shadow of my plant friend, Sharon Strelitzi, then began to play with moving lamps and leaves while filming the shadows. As I documented these explorations, it was these videos that unexpectedly revealed a resemblance between my and my plant's shadows.
This brought to mind my recent reflections of my life as a plant in lockdown. I've found happiness in being a plant, soaking up my daily dose of sunshine that, suddenly unobstructed by my neighbouring highrises, hits my reading chair for a little over an hour in the late afternoon. Sunshine, the right amount of water, fresh air and adequate nutrition is all I need and all I need to think about for that sacred hour. Breathe in, breathe out, I don't need to strive or strain to be fed my vitamin d as slowly, imperceptibly I grow.
The video of my shadow making shapes and movement became my focus. The footage of the shadows alone now put aside. The short clip of my playing at plant-hood was overlaid on itself with shifts in time and transparency. The image editing was done in Premiere and the title layer uses the overly, sweetly, positive template design and title: my own play with Ernst's approach to titling his work.