Deep Breathe by Marie de Brugerolle.
You might think of an applied Post-Surrealism, as with Duchamp when he invented martingales or registered patents, or with David Lynch, as much for Twin Peaks as for his transcendental meditation lessons. This is definitely a happy Post-Humanism, full of a joyful feminism. The imaginary of television advertising has become a source and folklore, in the noble sense of a popular art. Shana Moulton consciously practices the art of being in a re-presentation. The “pop-up” deployment of banal objects that become magical through effects (incrustation, fades, windows and other editing shifts) gives an account of a scripted reality, in which objects are inhaled and exhaled by the air conditioning.
Shana Moulton is presenting The Invisible 7th is the Mystic Column, an immersive installation mixing video, sculptures and scenic objects.
These have been made or appropriated by the artist to build the set of a performed film.
The generic form is a whale, which is the medium of a double projection. This divided in half, into the left lateral and the right lateral, like the cognitive system. On the one side, there are images found on the internet, free of rights, and on the other side, there are sketches shot in home-made sets by the artist. An oblong black mass obliterates an expanse of water in a lake whose shores are on fire. We find Cynthia, Shana Moulton’s ageless alter ego, searching for solutions to overcome her existential malaise. This time, the heroine’s quest for spiritual development focuses on breathing. From tutorials collected online, the young woman awkwardly performs deep breathing exercises. These work on the synchronization of vision and breath. At the beginning of the film, she asks Alexa, her smart personal assistant, to start her breathing training routine. The voice of this Amazon-developed home automation robot is inspired from the voice of the Star Trek TNG1 conversation system. Several times in the film, we hear off-camera “How do you feel”?
Esoteric junk imagery unfolds from typical clichés (a lake, mountain, floating bubbles, six-pointed stars…) which are supposedly relaxing and meditative. The repertoire of cheap derivative objects that haunt the shelves of the living room takes on familiar figures inspired from alternative medicine: palmistry, a seahorse, a shell, a sphere, a spiral, an archaic female idol… The structure of the shelf is an open labyrinth, shaped like an ancient Greek wave. We find this motif on one of Cynthia’s green dresses, when she dances with her rocking-chair exercise ball. Her body has clear deformities that can be seen throughout her adventures, like embodied prostheses. In this case, there is an increased posterior in the shape of a buoy. But, this does not prevent her from flying away through the oculus of her pink, domed room. Has she been caught by an alien ship? The Enterprise from Tarantino’s future Star Trek 4? Or is she undergoing hallucinations? These fantasies could be the consequence of inhalations coming from the objects, or the consequences of an overly deep inspiration. Their ghostly forms, as coloured simulacra generated by software, float, while Cynthia has an initiatory dream. In a forest, she discovers a factory, a colonnaded aedicula and a kind of Masonic Mausoleum. It is in flames. The seventh column has been broken, as a symbol of lost perfection. On the round table has been placed a red glass cup. Could this be Cynthia’s Grail? After this first astral journey, the ethereal body of the young woman rejoins her fleshly body on her pink bed. Expert hands remove the objects one by one, in a surgical operation that resembles an Operation game. Cynthia returns to madness (another name for these aediculae), guided by levitating objects. When she drinks from the cup, a starry sky appears above her. She sees a ballet of whales. When Cynthia settles at the centre of the broken column, she recreates a passage to sidereal space. She is then replaced by her enlarged air-purifying fan. This massive ellipse is a door towards other dimensions. Through this gaping hole, giant cetaceans appear. The supernatural and natural, terrestrial and marine, interior and exterior worlds communicate and end up forming the decor of a cetacean aquarium in real scale. This initiatory journey takes the viewer to the other side of the hypothetical mirror of the screen and makes for a life-size experience.
Shana Moulton’s universe probes the worries of our times: isolation, anxiety, self-performance, but without falling into parody. Beyond observation, her characters seek for solutions, to go beyond themselves and cross the levels of perception that transform them. They end up finding the marvellous in everyday life, tinkering with epiphanies in the living room or the kitchen. After use, you will realize that her determination to “be better” makes Cynthia her own possible double: a precious stone, a modern Artemis.