Underwater Ophelia

We know that Ophelia drowned, she took a plunge into a large soup bowl, where wild flowers floated, making her departure from this world rather aesthetically pleasing. She has been washed out elsewhere, into a world I am trying to understand, for reasons I am also trying to understand.

But before that, briefly, she appeared inside Candid arts space, black and veiled, sharing fruits and flowers with her guests, a kind of shadow or “negative” version of herself.

After that, the next time I saw her, was on the other side of a screen, as she reached out for the food that she could no longer touch, nor eat. She became trapped inside what seemed like a computer, participating in a self-isolation meal with a partner on the other side. They shared and not shared their peculiar courses.

For the following stage of her journey we join Ophelia on the other side of the screen, trapped inside a world, where touching is mediated by the shiny surface of mirrors.

Ophelia finds herself inside a circle, defined by mirrors. We are not certain which version of Ophelia is the real one, if any. The only touch is the touch of the mirror. Yet the mirror is a screen that doesn’t allow for direct experience. She is reaching out, towards an image of herself, while drawn further from herself.

She looks for liberation in movement, looking for a crack in the impossible space. She wants to find a way out of here. The vegetation on her own body is a reminder of the sensory world, where things smell, taste, decay. They are her palette of references, embodied memories externalised.

Another questions is what is the role of the camera? At times we see the filmmaker. She remains in the background, but is visible nonetheless. She is observing, but also directing, maybe interfering. The reminder of illusion of perception.

Later, when looking through the footage, I become confused at times, thinking that the face of Ophelia is my own. What does that mean?

At some point Ophelia actually acknowledges the presence of the camera, by directly offering something? Sniff of basil. Pomegranate? Maybe this is the moment of escape, into another dimension? A kind of turning onto oneself?

A moment of self-consciousness which also becomes a moment of liberation?

We allow play to guide us through the day, as we follow what feels right. The same process continues in the editing of footage…

The hall of moving images begins to offer answers to certain questions that have only been semi-articulated here. A process of discovery that feels exciting, echoing days of being a child, when the world was intriguing and one was free to construct reality from the magic of simple things, arranged in whatever order one desired, to create meaning.

A never ending adventure of making sense through play.

Concept, images & text by Tereza Stehlikova

Ophelia is embodied by Tereza Kamenicka

Costume by Jovana Gospavic

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