This is my winter project installed in the studio.
The set-up was very simple. It consisted of the poster, which was stuck to the wall using blu-tak, a white wooden plinth, and a speaker which I borrowed from a friend.
The piece was audiovisual because it included both the poster and a soundtrack played through the speaker. The soundtrack was a voice recording of myself reading out the following passage:
“One beast and only one howls in the woods by night.
The wolf is carnivore incarnate and he’s as cunning as he is ferocious; once he’s had a taste of flesh then nothing else will do.
At night, the eyes of wolves shine like candle flames, yellowish, reddish, but that is because the pupils of their eyes fatten on darkness and catch the light from your lantern to flash it back to you – red for danger; if a wolf’s eyes reflect only moonlight, then they gleam a cold and unnatural green, a mineral, a piercing colour. If the benighted traveller spies those luminous, terrible sequins stitched suddenly on the black thickets, then he knows he must run, if fear has not struck him stock-still.
But those eyes are all you will be able to glimpse of the forest assassins as they cluster invisibly round your smell of meat as you go through the wood unwisely late. They will be like shadows, they will be like wraiths, grey members of a congregation of nightmare; hark! his long, wavering howl . . . an aria of fear made audible.
The wolfsong is the sound of the rending you will suffer, in itself a murdering.”
The passage opens The Company of Wolves, one of the short stories in The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. Most of these stories are subverted versions of fairytales, and with her writing she attempts to extract the latent content of the original fairytales. The Company of Wolves is a dark version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” where the base desires of men are materialised as werewolves. The story has overt themes of gender, feminism, and anthropology.
The aim with the piece is not to portray men as bloodthirsty wolves, because that is neither true nor constructive. The aim is to extract the latent nature of the male gaze as a warning and to raise awareness.
The piece was subject to criticism from my studio tutor. They found the idea and intention very interesting and powerful, but in their words the realisation of it was “a bit thin.” A particular criticism was that the sound quality of my recording was poor (it was recorded on my iPhone), and it was pointed out to me that the art department has a recording booth, which would benefit my audio work in the future.
THE NEXT STEP:
For the following week, my studio tutor suggested that I re-visit this idea, but make the realisation of it much more advanced. She suggested the following artists might inform my work: Robert Gober, Sophie Calle, Mariele Neudecker, James Coleman, and Christian Boltanski.