Oblation
     A project proposal
 
Painting and Performance - Two paintings,  Live Performance proposal, and a Video artwork as an alternative to respond the requirements of  potential physical restrictions. 
 
In the complex dimension of an Allegory, the dialogue between painting and performance creates a symbiosis between perceptions - the visual, conceiving a story in the imagination, and the sensual, involving the audience in a surreal experience. The performance features, conveying the mysticism of shapeshifting through the implicit presence of the female, revive a narrative through the energy of the invisible events that fill the air with tension and anticipation, thrill and curiosity, and echo vague intentions, whose traces remain to declare oblation.
 

‘Hair symbolizes physical strength and virility; the virtues and properties of a person are said to be concentrated in his hair and nails. It is a symbol of instinct, of female seduction, and physical attraction’

Digital collage - a project for Painting compositions 

An introduction:

Painting

 

Size/two paintings/ - 150x100 

Medium - Oil on canvas

 

In a composition, where the narrative hints the relationship between the fox and the female, illustrating the act of hair cutting, an interplay between visible and invisible portrays the  fuse  between the illusionary and the real, emphasized by contrasting liquid, transparent colour with solid paint, mixed watercolour and traditional oil painting approach in the technique. The colour palette is sought to resemble hues of the nature. The gestural, elusive patterns of colour vibrate in a fluid texture, in the area where the body dissolves in a  tree-like silhouette,   depersonalizing the figure, bringing the sense of eroticism and delicacy in nuances of blended bark and skin tones. A perused effect is the sense that the hair is really falling down. The fox is monochrome, almost black and white - feeling of a memory. an implicit presence. The background scene is vague, the outlines fade to remind that the location assigns a process within.

Live Performance

 

Participants: Performer, Audience, 4 Deputies

Location: Gallery space, scale may vary

Duration: 20 min

Mediums: Sound, wind, fabric, hair

Approach: Physical contact with the audience

Purpose: Fill up the space with presence

Risk: wind

Environmental and audience ethics:

approaching the personal space of the viewer

A female performer, randomly dressed, merges with the audience. Walking slowly, with a careful,  smooth unnoticed movement, occasionally 'accidently'  touching a shoulder, a back, an  ankle - with part of the clothing in the beginning, getting more intrusive further. Simultaneously, a voice, a cry, mimicking a fox call alters with cheerful laughter. At a sudden moment, a blow, a faked wind occurs and pieces of fabric, mixed with tresses of the performer's hair, fall around in the crowd. Four depusties assist to enable to contact with a greater number of people. 

Video

Participants: Female performer

Scenes venue: Outdoor, forest, path

Green screen /not used yet/: Transition of violet blossoms into a dress; the slip of the dress down the body

Sound: Breathing,  leaves, wind, violin

 

 

The human-animal concept  is conveyed in the idea of the split body, which appears in gestures and signals, in an ambiguous scene, full of clues.

The comparison of bark with skin, obscure vital, inner cycles behind deceiving stillness. The blossoms are a metaphor for the outer appearance of the female – with her ability to levitate between matter and spirit, between the rational form of a human, and instinctual of an animal, she possesses the control over her power and is ready for a ‘voyage’. The path through the forest, sprinkled with ‘dead’ blossoms –  pieces of her human form,  is, however, unlikely to be found – she would lose confidence and direction – the path is a symbol of choice. Intuitively, the fox easily finds a direction but also traps the soul in temptations. Somewhere, as a concealed ‘crime, the choice is made - and ‘signed’ by the mystery of the blown pieces of hair.

 

 

The extensive, fascinating volume of mythological archives, with their distinct, yet closely parallel cross-cultural features, the accounts of supernatural powers they suggest, mysterious origin, and connection with rite and folklore, are unprecedented code for deciphering the implicit stimulus and metamorphosis of the human being.

Tracing a fundamental psychic experience in superstitious beliefs, legends, and philosophical doctrines, observing the similarities of such beliefs in different regions and folks, I collect corresponding symbols to unravel the ambivalent nature of human being in an attempt to create an allegory, in which the cunning, manipulative, dual qualities of the fox, with one of her transformations into a woman in Chinese mythology, resonates with its renowned archetypal characteristics. Trickster, shapeshifter, or a which, the fox is associated with the figure of a female, who, in the act of hair cutting voluntarily renounces her power – a power, blissful in the ability for conception, but also destructive in its passions and as a symbol of desire.

The principle of the feminine is inscribed in this allegory, yet it is an allegory of the fundamental trial of Man.  Within a complex relationship between legacy, collective memory, beliefs, fears, and obedience, lies the very fundament of the inner, private agony of the individual.

Work in progress: Video and Painting

The Video has a  sound 

Viola - Valerya Hristova

Historical claims, mythological fables, and theories of symbolism resonate upon the assumptions of hair as an attribute and sign,  whose signified properties, such as strength, freedom, beauty, attraction, shift in the context of tales and beliefs to consolidate in the notion of power.

Legends as those of Samson and Delilah in the Bible, Medusa in Greek mythology, Queen Berenice of Egypt, Mara’s temptation in Buddhism, among others, are exemplary for the age-old account of hair’s mystical magnitude implied in an act.  translated as punishment, humiliation, or a sacrifice.

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Myths transfer ancient beliefes and rites through centuries . Primitive folks explain the enigma of existence with mysterious powers. Those beliefs crystalize in the concept of Animatism and Animism explained with the idea that every natural object is a sentient being and every object has soul or spirit on its own, and Mana – the essence of spirit, the mystic , supernatural force existing in a 'loose, fluid, or dispersed condition'.

 ‘...a great chief or cunning man is frequently believed by savages to be a ‘battery’ or reservoir of Mana.’

People with distinct qualities posses such transcendental energy and are associated with distinguishing power.

 

In its origin from Latin, the term anima is associated with ‘breath, soul, spirit or vital force’, as opposed to animus describing the ideas of the rational soul, mind, mental powers, courage, or desire.

Later Jung starts using these terms in his analytical psychology stating that anima represents the feminine principle as present in the male unconscious, reflecting the soul, the life, spirituality, and animus - the masculine principle present in the female unconscious, identified with motive, intention, purpose, considering anima the most important autonomous complex, as well as a source of creative ability, and claiming that those two aspects are the key to integrating the true inner self, the whole. Animus and Anima are Anthropomorphic archetypes, which are also related to the attribution of human emotions or intentions to non-human entities, wild, or domesticated animals.

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Proposal for Painting an Live Performance exposition: /the Live Performance suggested is constructed as a conversation with the Painting proposal, but its realisation will be strictly considered according to the Health and Safety regulations imposed by the Covid-19 crisis and presented if/when the circumstances allow/

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/The storyboard consists of images of proposed positioning with an account of approximate dimensions and an example of environment, regardless of any  reference to a certain exhibition space and designated area./  

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 Fans, placed for the time of the Performance

Performers, walking among the audience

Pieces of fabric and hair, blown in the air

The sensitive principle of the body is the bridge between the thick inertness of matter and the ephemeral tremors of spirit, generated by the mysterious divinity of creation. As such, the body – of a human, but also an animal - possesses that encoded matrix of exquisiteness and harmony.

Sensitivity saturates subconsciousness with images, which pass the messages of spirit and translate them in a symbolic language.    Those imagery puzzles often present archetypal counterparts of representatives of the animal world, deriving from the collective memory. The fox is such kind of element – a totem animal of low emanation, not only with its ability of outer shapeshifting but also whit its quality of mutability, reflecting the eternal dualistic nature of human feelings in their free manifestation, which, in their primordial liberty ally human with animal, vocal with the acoustic creature. Edifying mockingbird, seductive young women, deceitful spirit, infatuated by its playful impulse child – the embodiment of the fox are diverse. But what unifies them its the assessing nature of divergence.

In the context of the universal theme about the feminine, attracting the world in its Faustian translation encrypted in the system of moral principles, the fox encompasses the idea of the luscious women, who repents. Her physical embodiment navigates, in fact, the assumption of the luscious soul. Devotion, surrender, vow – symbolically represented by the act of conscious hair cutting by the own hand, not imposed, as it is for the nuns, but voluntarily enacted as a ritual by a priestess, which could be performed only after the fruits of the sin have been tasted - after spiritual decadence in the world of chaos, where the energy of passions rages mindlessly in the loose hair. Long hair channelizes cosmic energy, which used irrational turns into madness – hair is not yet a reflection of the cosmic order, but a devastating force.

Similarly, to a tree or a flower, for which trimming is a condition to flourish, cutting the tentacle of the sinful femininity is a condition for the Evil to be uprooted. In a personal aspect and the universal one.

Helen Chadwick 

Of Mutability

 

Influenced by Baroque, Rococo, Renaissance paintings, Classic architecture, Christianity, Medieval myth, and the elements, Chadwick’s mixed-media work in Of Mutability is rather eclectic in correspondence with its multi-layered and complex meaning. The reference of her naked body as a site suggests the cycle of life. Constructing scenes of desire Chadwick makes ‘autobiographies of sensation’, where female sexuality is celebrated rather than being shameful.

  Artificial blue pool, representing the Garden of Eden, ‘inhabited’ by allegories of figures with their attributes in forms of pleasure – some of the attributes are represented by animals raise in those allegories the discrepancy between nature and culture. Five golden spheres are symbols of the sense of touch and purity with their colour and shape. Implementation of scenes of desire and sexuality in Of Mutability interweave ‘desire and love, body and soul’

Attributes and symbols in the installation echo passion, lust, decay - a disrupting notion of perfection and a contrast  between ‘transcendent and transient’.

Helen Chadwick

Loop my Loop

'Chadwick plays with the duality of attraction and repulsion here; the hair typifies the classical archetype of female desire while the glossy pig intestines are a reminder of our basal, originary, and animal qualities'.  The seductive and sexual power of hair appears here to juxtapose love and disgust..

In most of her work, exploring subjects from myth to science, and with the surrealist's legacy, Chadwick uses visceral, body and bodily materials, rotten vegetables, meet, and combining the strange and the familiar she disrupts taboos and stereotypical perceptions.

Marina Abramovic

Rhythm 5

In Rhythm 5, Abramovic lit on fire a large star at the beginning of the performance. She started  systematically cut off pieces of her own toenails, fingernails, and hair and threw them into the flames, This work of Abramovic has very ritualistic dimension. She must have been certainly aware of the meaning hair and nails are associated with in the folklore

She must have been certainly aware of the meaning hair and nails are associated with in the folklore. Despite of the unintentional risky finale of the Performance, the act of 'jumping' into the fire evokes the assumption of death, of sacrifice in a scene which raises the interconnection of the symbolic act of deprivation of strength and power with rejection of life. Fire brings religious connotation as well - often a metaphor and a 'tool' of retention and purification

Yoko Ono

Cut Piece

A subject of different interpretations, Yoko Ono's cut piece is described as a 'form of giving' - 'When I do the Cut Piece, I get into a trance, and so I don’t feel too frightened.…We usually give something with a purpose…'. Similar idea of the voluntary act of 'giving', as well as revealing, I imply in my concept. In Yoko Ono's emblematic piece, however, she 'sacrifices' herself to the free will of the audience - a public demonstration, also assessing people's behaviour. Her quiet anticipation fills the surroundings with tension - disturbing and  embarrassing, yet more and more liberating.

Budget

Painting:

Canvas: 2 /100x 150/ - 120 £

Materials /paints and brushes/ - 150 £

Installationa materials - 10 £

 

                                                    280 £

 

Live Performance: 

Rehearsal space /2 hours/ - 42 £

Lilac crepe chiffon /6m/ - 18 £

Tower fans - white /4 pc/ - 88 £

Deputies - volunteers

                                                   148 £

Video:

Green Screen rental + camera

and lighting  /half a day/ - 200 £

Purple dress - 12 £

Screen hire /47'', 26 £ per day/ - 130 £

Screen arm stand - 32 £

Montage materials - 10 £

                                                  484 £

Bibliography:

The body: Social Process and Cultural Theory,  Edited by: Mike Featherstone, Mike Hepworth, Bryan S. Turner

The body, edited and introduced by Donn Welton

Natural Symbols: Explorations in cosmology, Mary Douglas

The outlines of mythology, Lewis Spence

The feminine and the sacred, Catherine Clement and Julia Kristeva

Desire: A History of European Sexuality, Anna Clark

Jung: the key idea, Ruth Snowden

Mind-Energy, Henry Bergson

On the nature of psyche, Jung