When I walked in to Nettie Horn at the weekend, I was met by a tiny women in a large open white space, on a monitor, hysterically shouting, ‘you are a liar, you are a liar’, I wanted to join her, turn to the world and say, ‘you are a living lie’. I read the press release and realised I had a different relationship to the work as stated, it was Marilyn Monroe from the Misfit 2002, screaming at Clark Gable, the viewer was meant to feel attacked. Not I, I was with her all the way!
Where do these shadow aspects derive from? Do you relate to aspects of needing to express your more sinister emotions, or is your relationship of love and romance? If so, do you exclaim, ‘I love that, I love it, I love you?’
Whenever we feel pain, or insecure, or in fear, we cast a shadow over ourself and we become limited. We then have an ability to project those emotions onto others. I have come to realise, at ‘Source’ level, these pains, insecurities, or fears, rarely belong to the person experiencing them, they are often projections from others, the process of letting go is to give back the fears, insecurities, pain and limits to the person that gave them to you.
People who exist as ‘lights’ through deepest darkness are spiritually called ‘moon children’, they are not afraid of the dark as they ‘truly know’ that a shadow is only an area of life that isn’t being lit or exposed or seen at that moment. Getting to know one’s shadow aspect is a bit like becoming Peter Pan, it’s an uncomfortable journey of conflict, pain and challenge. One can ache for it to be a separate part of oneself, sometimes the shadow conscious also wants to exist as a separate part but somewhere along the lineage of life, we often experience a tap on the shoulder, of which we have to confront our shadow and find a way of living with that part of our being. I wondered, is it possible to light up the shadow of our self and finally integrate it in light for good, can we become fully enlightened?
I went to the V&A this week to ‘Shadow Catchers’, a great array of spiritually and artistically aligned pieces of work, able to open doorways into realities beyond our physical consciousness. The works were beautiful and authentically integral. I love the process of photography when it’s in its true, natural state, the work was created using camera less photography. The simple techniques work with light in the most sensitive and gentle way, I was able to connect with magic in those moments.
The open doorways of consciousness where explored as the artists held space as ‘gatekeepers’, Floris Neususs, Pierre Cordier, Garry Fabian Miller, Susan Derges and Adam Fuss. The techniques where carried out through the process of chemigram, digital C-print, dye destruction print, gelatin-silver print, luminogram, photogram, a fantastic array of simple scientific processes, that gave back some intention to the development of process with artistic merit.
I enjoyed the play of Floris Neususs’s work, all very ‘Peter Pan’ and I could for a moment think yes, its possible to leave my shadow behind, looking at her work took me in to the fantasy of possibilities, she had left all these shadows in gallery, so ‘Peter Pan’, a doorway in to the world of magic, leaving the academic, logical heavy artistry for a moment, just to be playful.
I questioned when does art move from playing in to academia? Don’t we sometimes complicate an approach that simply carries a connection to something bigger? When have you experienced the shadow of isolation? of not being heard, understood? Through the work at ‘Shadow Catcher’ Pierre Cordier, la Suma, Jorg Luis Borges takes us in to the world of ‘labyrinth’s’, I found his depiction difficult, as a labyrinth in my experience should take you on a journey of discovery, enlightenment and self realisation. There were so many dead ends in his saturated labyrinth works. After some thinking time, I was reminded of the labyrinth of the heart, all the heart walls created as others ‘stand in your way’ unable to give support in development through secret agenda’s and conflicting belief systems, getting down to the overflowing ‘Source’ of love, is a journey through the labyrinth of life. This to me was how I related to Cordier’s work in its shadow aspect, but hard to ‘read’ by looking at the work immediately.
On the contrary, Susan Derges, work, went from death to birth to spirituality, she managed to bridge the gap of physicality to spirituality, ‘Arch 4’, Digital C print, composes, a celestial work. She demonstrated an ability to juxtapose life and death in a state of bardo. A consciousness only really able to express through personal experience of ‘near death’ enlightenment.
Surely, from gallerists to artists, we all go through a process of communicating our inner intimate feelings and thoughts, a sensitive process, that needs a very gentle recognition and a space free from personal judgement and criticism, a contradiction that we have created in art, through critic and the need to put financial value on art and commercialise art.
When experiencing Ai Weiwei, ‘Sunflower Seeds’ at Tate Modern, I was reminded of this, ‘value’ aspect, how commercialism can create a corporate experience. How employing such a large work force, 1,600 to hand paint seeds, almost gave purpose to people without direction, a strange concept, the art was more about the process, the emptiness of looking at empty seeds, (as they are ceramic), I felt it wouldn’t be ethical for them to be ‘live’ seeds (after all there are people hungry, this activity gave people the finance to buy food!) but the thoughts of all these workers creating these objects, what did that say about society and the level of commercialism we now experience in art? I also wanted to experience the ‘sun’ of the sunflower, come in to enlightenment, but found myself questioning the work, in context of a society far removed from spirituality?
The communications in marketing an exhibition has reached an all time high, of course it should, creative communications should be above the norm coming out of artistic practice, an aspect worthy of recognition beyond the art world in to marketing. However there is a shadow side to this, a loss of intimacy, a need pre-book a popular exhibition, to get mashed in to a world where one can easily trip up and loose buoyancy by those walking a different path with different agendas. One has to not forget and respect the ‘passions’ demonstrated in artistic endeavour, without failing to bring forward the magical quality of personal experience, allowing a journey to unfold of relationship and the sharing of lifetime ‘realisation’ and ‘objectification’. – AMANDA MCGREGOR