Shadow Ophelia

Having left Ophelia, dressed in white like a bride, as she drowned herself in a bowl of floating blossoms, in the middle of the lush Kensal Green cemetery in May 2018, she was briefly spotted again in Candid Arts Centre on 22nd February 2019.

This time she was all in black and she was enclosed in a womb space of carnal red.

While this is more than a year ago, I haven’t really had the chance to go through the footage of the night until now.

Having been somewhat exhausted back then, by the new baby’s sleep disruptions, the whole evening was like a strange hallucination to me, slightly painful at times, as I struggled to push through.

And so it made sense to return to it this moment now, still in this semi-lockdown state, in order to try”digest” what happened, to search for what I have missed back then.

I must admit there was something rather voyeuristic about observing these close encounters between our dark Ophelia and her various “guests”, who joined her one by one at her table (around the very same bowl that she used to exit this world in her previous white incarnation), being wooed into intimate sensory encounters, private exchanges of secret desires.

In fact, these encounters feel positively transgressive at this moment in time, when touch, or worse still, a taste of a shared morsel between two strangers, is a forbidden, even threatening act.

I find myself feeling exhilarated by being a witness to this sudden rush of sensory intimacy, the apparent secret communication between strangers, achieved by visual clues, touch and taste alone.
I also know that this is far from the last time we see Ophelia.

 

In the latest film where she appeared she moved behind a computer screen, where she was able to participate in tactile encounters only by proxy. She was an explorer who could only travel through the powers of her imagination. Hers was a story of frustrated touch, a dream of touching inside a disembodied world.

Yet what is the next part of her journey? Where now?

I imagine joining Ophelia in her new environment, on the other side of a screen, like a reality inside a mirror, where  all that is either beautiful or ugly, blossoming or rotting, fragrant or stinking, becomes the same slick texture, with no nuance and no variation to distinguish between warm or cold, rough or smooth, life or death. I will join her as a ghost joins another ghost, with my camera which functions as a shield.

I see her in red, having assimilated the content of her rivers and lakes, so that she is now adorned by fruits and flowers, which she cannot touch or taste.

Instead she reaches out to the mirrors surrounding her, planted in a perfect circle inside which she is trapped.

I wonder if she will be able to escape, through some small crack, back into the real world?

The evening took place at Candid Arts Centre, on 22nd February 2019.

The video (from which stills were taken) was filmed by Nevra Topcu.

Ophelia is embodied by Tereza Kamenicka.

Thank you also to Nuala Clooney, Amy Neilson Smith and William Summers for being part of the magical evening, as well as all the participants, willing to play, connect and write down secrets.

Ophelia is from my ongoing project, exploring embodiment and disembodiment, in moving image and performance.

 

Related links:

https://cinestheticfeasts.com/2019/02/20/ophelia-event/

https://cinestheticfeasts.com/2018/05/21/ophelia/

https://cinestheticfeasts.com/2020/05/30/behind-the-screen/

https://cinestheticfeasts.com/2015/11/26/a-soup-for-ophelia/

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