British Artist Serena Korda explores animal symbolism and folklore with a series of three performances and two film pieces in “Aping the Beast”. The Boob Meteorite, the second in a series of three performances, is a ritual ballet featuring a towering monster latex puppet, manipulated by a team who have him jigging around by maneuvering bamboo poles, and a diminutive dancer gracefully pirouetting around him clad in an agglomeration of boobs. Low-tech materials and artifice evidence the hand-made, exuding innocence and the charm of old-style B-movies such as Godzilla and King Kong. The dance of the monster and boob meteorite, is accompanied by live musicians, each bearing a latex all see-ing “third eye” in the centre of their respective foreheads. It was refreshing, silly and strange, but in context with the other works, addresses issues of greater meaning to do with the power of ritual.
In contrast to the above performance, Serena Korda has directed two HD movies. “The Transmitters” inspired by the hysterics of Beatlemania, is based on a folk dance called the tarantella, where victims of the spider’s venom are required to dance for hours to rid themselves of the poison. The film begins with 5 girls smoking and seem visibly agitated outside the room where the performance is to begin. They enter making cacophonous noises and begin an almost freakish ritualistic dance, sometimes mimicking the movement of the spider. As above, live musicians accompany this curious duo, bearing the curious latex “third eyes” on their forehead, in reference to that which is capable of seeing beyond ordinary perception. The film has interesting elements where, for example, the camera travels into the blackness of a screaming girl’s mouth and a giant hairy spider materializes eclipsing the entirety of the screen. The girls begin dancing as if disembodied and awkward and slowly move together in an attempt to find unity as the musicians encircle them like high priests or shamen chaperoning them in their journey to exorcise their “poison”. Occasional cries of hysteria release bursts of blocked emotion.
A third work in the show, “The Prognosticator” is an interesting video and sculptural piece where video, cabinet and speaker are the components of the work, and shows the relationship between a black cat and his doting owner who appears to be under the magical spell of the domestic beast, who as the title suggests is in possession of higher knowledge.
Aping the beast explores the symbolism of animals as well as ritual, folklore and magic. Animals are essential components of Shamanic practice to help the shaman in undertaking ventures in higher spiritual knowledge, exorcising negative spirits, journeying to the underworld, and curing illness. The animal also is said to be in possession of wisdom that it lends to humans in their endeavours and can unlock issues that an individual may suffer from. Serena Korda explores this theme with playfulness, compelling aesthetics and an interesting interplay between high and low technology.
Words/Photo Karen Garratt © Artlyst 2013
APING THE BEAST – SERENA KORDA – Camden Arts Centre Until May 5 – The third performance with the monster is scheduled for May 4th.