thinking/making: catching thought in process
21 November 2018: Psychological Geographies
Using the material world as catalyst for the projection of unconscious contents, each work aims to amplify primitive feminine knowledge which is seen as both suppressed and the means by which we can begin to heal the world’s wounds.
Spirit Lake/Kirk Wall video installation
SLUICE: Exchange Berlin, November 2018
“Elaine Fisher explores archetypal questions about femininity, soul and nature in her installation, ‘Spirit Lake’. Reduced video works of a falling leaf and a crow in flight presented on two monitors on an upper and a lower level, a conscious and a subconscious level, draw the viewer into the dream”
“The atmosphere of the sinister ice lake is impressively evoked by the artist’s reduced, dominating white……a deliberately disturbing sound installation in which you can hear the sound of a crow in slow motion…….the two works are mutually dependent……The installation calms and troubles at the same time.”
The (re)making of Spirit Lake highlighted a significantly expanded role for the primitive right hemisphere as both pre-conscious originator (the impulse to video a tree in the wind and the unknown ‘gift’ of a falling leaf), ambiguous collector (the pre-conscious association of flying crow and falling leaf) and active responder to the limitations of consciousness (creative solutions emerged in response to failed attempts to solidify a messy background; a mis-click added the unknown ‘gift’ of a panning function). In neuro-science the left hemisphere is a (noisy?) processor, constantly referring data back to (agitating a response from?) the right hemisphere for further creative output. In these terms we can perhaps more hopefully view the role of Trickster (Crow/Raven) in the world (through Kirk Wall) as an opportunity for renewed and focussed creative action.
Spirit Lake/Kirk Wall forms part of a wider body of work, Creation Myths, completed at Aside Gallery and Studios, 1501 Guilford Avenue, aka The CopyCat Building. 1501 Guilford Avenue has come to be synonymous with the owner of its former roof top billboard (The Copycat Printing Company) despite being home to many different manufacturing industries at that time. Part of Baltimore’s artistic community since the 1980s, the Copycat Building continues to struggle to recognise its inner life, caught as it is between a desire to legitimise artist live/work studios and a legal black hole that is not able to facilitate a zoning change.
Kirk Wall was filmed on the ruined site of the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, Orkney. In the early 1600s Lord Orkney decided that the existing Bishop’s Palace was inadequate for his needs. He extended the complex by building a new Earl’s Palace on the adjoining Land which he acquired by fabricating charges and trying and executing the current owner for theft.
Spirit Lake was filmed on the shores of Grand Lake, Colorado. Given the name batan-naache (meaning Holy Lake or Spirit Lake) by the Arapaho Indians, Grand Lake is also the site of The Legend of the Buffalo, a supernatural beast seen emerging from a hole of open water at the centre of the ice-covered lake in winter. In Ute Indian tradition the lake is “bad medicine”. During an attack by an Arapahoe/Cheyenne Indian war party, women and children found refuge on a raft cast out into the lake. A curiously strong wind raised a monstrous wave which capsized the raft and all were drowned. When the lake freezes over in the winter, it is said that one can hear the urgent cries of the women and children beneath the surface.
psychological geography is a term used by Marie Louise Von Franz in her book Creation Myths to describe certain constellations of the landscape that serve to catalyze the projection of inherited archetypal patterns of representation. Thus we find in landscape ‘fitting places’ for certain deeds, fantasies and ideas (1972 revised 1995 Shambhala Publications p317). In contrast to Von Franz’s phenomenal (and feminine?) psychological geography, Psychogeography, a term coined by Guy Debord in 1955, has developed into a (masculine?) cause and effect pathology where geochemical profiles, geomagnetic variations and tectonic stresses are identified as causes of schizophrenia, epidemics of unusual behaviours and psychosis.