I have a memory of a story I was never told…
I am the stories of your past. I am our collective story. I am HER. I am SHE. I have waited so long. Patiently, on the edge of my threads. Until HER time has returned. I am the weaver. I am the story teller. I hold the threads of her past. Red threads. Threads of blood. Threads of blood and connectivity. I hold her truth and ours.
In uncovering and rediscovering all that she has been, SHE can inspire the ascending of all that SHE can be.
This is not a love story…
Severed extremes, no longer two sides of the whole.
Laces of choice, unbind. Unbind. Unbind.
her light will dance in the dark.
A new story. An old story, rewoven.
She will rise again…
One-In-Herself overarching concept
This work began with wanting to explore the tension between light and dark and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ female archetypes. In researching the origins of these black and white archetypes and following the threads of HER, this work has become something not planned.
One-In-Herself is a body of work that examines the story of HER past. The exhibition responds to the potential, alternate meaning of the word Virgin and the impact the currently understood meaning of this word has had on her path and our collective consciousness.
This collection of work encourages a critical discussion around how the recording of history has impacted our story and continues to shape our path.
It is hoped this work will be a seed of reclamation for the original meaning of this word. It is hoped this work will be the beginning of a body of research that follows the threads of HER back through time; to find her stories before monotheistic religious scribes rewrote her archetype and role.
In uncovering and rediscovering all that she has been, SHE can inspire the ascending of all that SHE can be.
This body of work is a three part story: Part one tells the old, but not ancient, story and examines the tension between light and dark and the good and bad in current, prescribed female archetypes. These, five, archetypes are represented through photographic imagery printed on fabric.
Part two represents a death and rebirth; the death of the old narrative and the birth of a new one. Part two is represented through a Video installation work and a book that holds words and photographic images.
Part three carves a space for a new story to be woven. Part three is presented as three photographic images, printed on fabric, along with a fabric sculpture that provides a space for each woman One-In-Herself to weave her own story.
The installation of the work is presented as a story, with a story teller: ancient arachnid weaver of time and narrative- blood red velvet vagina spider, and invites viewers to engage via Love Candy directives, for example ‘Play Me’.
Play Me. See Me. Love Me. Forget Me. Read Me. Touch Me.
The Arachnid weaver of time and narrative
Blood Red Velvet Vagina Spider
As with so many things that had been identified as feminine, they have been demonised through the telling of history. Things that once represented feminine divinity and creation, with the rising power of monotheistic religions, became symbols of evil and destruction.
But spiders are no more evil and destructive than she. In dreams, spiders have been interpreted as female energy and protection, creativity and patience. Early pagans and druids believed spiders to be spirit guides. They believed spiders represented creativity and the divine feminine. They also believed spiders to be the guardians of ancient language and weavers of story.
My blood red sider is the keeper of feminine energy and creation, she is the constant, the common thread from ancient times to now, she is the keeper of ancient language and ancient truth. She is the guardian of her story and the weaver of her story rewoven.
Unbalanced Female Archetypes: His roles for her, her dark and her light now severed.
All of life is equal parts of light and dark. Including she. She is light and dark, creator and destroyer. Balanced between her innate darkness and light she is powerful; she was the moon goddess, the healer, the priestess, Ishtar and Aphrodite, she was a woman One-In-Herself.
When the romans came to conquer the world, it did not suit their cause to have she seen as she was. Her power and the worship of her strength was to be deconstructed. Their scribes and monotheistic religious leaders etched away at her stories, separating her from herself. Slowly, insidiously, painfully.
Healers became the evil witches, moon goddesses the black pagans; the story of Mary was severed in two to become the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene the Whore. She was given a role of only one or the other, light and dark.
Separated form herself and her sisters her power dissolved. And the rest, is history.
Through our contemporary lens, these unbalanced female archetypes remain.
My archetypes represent her severed extremes. Facets of who she can be, separated out and unbalanced, her power taken from her. Here she only light or dark.
Each image is threaded with symbolism and seen as five separate phases of the moon, linking back to her original archetype. The Whore holding a challis, a vessel to fill as with the whore of Babylon. The virgin bride, is shown with a lock and key and rope as illustrations of her binding and ownership not her own.
The wild woman is seen as the ultimate demon who would take the life of he. The perpetual mother and virtuous woman is show holding an infant and expecting again, she is holding a birdcage, representative of the cycle she is kept within.
And lastly, the crone, the witch, the waxing moon; once seen as the wise woman, she is the taker of youth and representative of all that is no longer relevant. She holds a skull and dying rose; symbols of death and stolen youth.
Her power undone when she was no longer one.
A stream of consciousness work that I completed just after shooting the archetypes. Read was not a planned part of the work. This book, is to me, the most important part of this body of work; the story that underpins it all.
A story from my spider spirit guide.
Death and rebirth: Stop motion video installation
This clip is a story of fracturing and coming together; of death and rebirth. His story for her, violently falling into death and the rebirth of the story she shall weave for herself.
The first part, the woman in the cubical, undressing, peeling off layers of her prescribed roles and expectations. Her lips, referencing an Alexander McQueen anti-fashion-fashion show, her dress referencing fashion, the next layer, a full body spanx, and the third layer shibari rope tying. Here I am commenting on fashion and fetish… both used as tools of control and tools of liberation.
The second part of the video is a visual representation of rebirth, rising from her watery grave, her truth ascending.
Her light will dance in the dark
In the book, Women Who Run With Wolves, the author tells of an ancient American Indian tradition, where she is to go back over her story and mark a cross for each point in her story where a part of her was lost. These three images have been inspired by this story.
She, any she, shown as a vacant gown, is dancing back through her past to find the parts of her lost, to call the pieces of her home. She is illustrated with the three phases of the moon.
The wanning moon, her childhood, church, where her (my) early indoctrination was laid down.
The full moon, her wild era to try to fight, the forest.
And the waxing moon, her adult path thus far, to the city, to his corporate constraints and broken systems.
She will dance her light in the dark and call the pieces of her home.
Gown and Corset
The gown, pure white, is referencing the tradition of a white gown for the pure virgin. She is encased in a corset; a symbol of feminine restriction, sexual fetish and inversely sexual liberation. The corset is coming undone as she dances the pieces of herself home.
Laces of choice; unbind, unbind, unbind.
Textiles, fabric prints and threads through time
Weaving and textile arts have forever been linked to femininity and the divine creative. She has been relegated to her trivial craft, cut the threads of these crafts herself in the hope of liberation from the mere trivial and re-embraced this art in an effort to rebalance; full circle.
Textiles feature heavily in this body of work, representing threads of time, the weaving of the spider story and the creativity of the feminine.
The spider is made of red velvet, costume and stitches tell the story of each character and the key images have been printed on silk hanging fabric.
She followed her thread back through time…
Love Story Soundscape: Music Box
My partner has an old music box, a gift given to the women in his family and given to him by his mother, a plain wooden casing. He opened it for me, its sparkly sound filled our bedroom, Love Story, tincing music box notes from the song ‘Where do I begin’.
This must be my soundscape! A song and a movie that filled my teenage head with love and romantic pain. All of their lies, we are told is because they love is. This is not a love story.
Play Me: Love Candy
Such silly little objects we are to gift to our crush. Oh how adorable. Love me they beg, please love me.
In my story, they give directive to engage with her story, how she chooses.
This is my most favourite part of this story. A new symbol. A new story. An old story rewoven.
In the absence of a universal language, symbols guide us. Symbols provide clues and codes that point to deeper meaning and stories. They are a visual key… a link through time and place. They speak to our subconscious, we engage with hundreds every moment of our path.
As she, there are so many for us. I wanted one. One we, as she, had birthed. One that links back to our ancient story and pulls it through to this time and this place.
Before a time when history was recorded by scribes telling truths and un-truths for their masters, before written language really existed in the way we understand, her stories were orally transmitted, the ancient stories were shared through images and symbols.
The pointed oval was a symbol of the great mother goddess, representing her sex and divine ability to be a vessel for creation. Ancient Greeks told their mythologies through symbols, for example Hekate is an ancient Hellenic symbol dated before 2300 b.c and connected with the Greek Goddess of the same name, the symbol shows three sections and a central point, there have been early recordings of this central point holding a spider.
Early Europeans and ancient Celtic tribes used many symbols, often symbols that related to She held three points, the number three being associated with femininity and balance; the three phases of Woman, maiden-mother-crone. The Celts had some of my favourite symbols, symbols that remain. The Celtic triple crescent moon, representing birth-life-death. They used a symbol known as Arwen, I adore this one, it is represented by three dots and flows into three lines, this one represents the balance between male and female energy. There is the Celtic triple spiral Triskele, the Celtic power of three and the three pointed Triquetra, as with the triple moon is another symbol for the three phases of a Womans life; a symbols for creativity and balance.
Early symbols of moons are connected to She across several ancient myths, religions and societies… the moon goddess… a linking thread…?
There are separate elements to the design of this symbol. The first being the three phase moon, connecting to the ancient moon goddess, the triple goddess, but in this new symbol they are represented crossing over and coming together- the separation of her facets will be no longer.
The full moon contains a representation of the five moon phase- each of her life stages, coming together.
The Ichthus Fish symbol used by Christians is reported to be a reappropriated symbol of the divine feminine. Rotated to its side it becomes a Yoni symbol; the symbol for vagina and the divine creator. The wanning and waxing moon crescents cross over to form this symbol within the overall design.
And perfectly, it all comes together in an arachnid representation. She is the guardian of her original story and the weaver of her story rewoven.
The artist Louise Bourgeois and the difficulty of uncovering herstory within history
As writing and the discipline of formalised record keeping developed from the early Greeks and Romans, it was always a fluid story telling, a telling of tales shaped to influence the masses. As with our contemporary history makers and story tellers, the media, and documentary makers, their stories are refracted through their own lenses and edited by the ones in power. The telling of history has never been absolute truth. Truth is a relative word. And like the recording of history, is fluid.
How then, can we find stories that were never recorded? How do we know they existed? If her truth has been almost entirely redacted from our recorded past how can it be found or validated?
And this, is what I have found to be the most frustrating about this story. There are little imprints and shadows of her threaded throughout his telling of her story, there once was a narrative for her… a truth that she owned.
While googling ‘Fabric Spiders’, I stumbled into a book made by the artist Louise Bourgeois, and her body of work that almost exclusively represents spiders, spiders as she.
Truth ascending. When I read her words, it just felt like it was all connected; we were all connected, our stories, her words.
My eyes prickled with tears when I came across her book: An Ode to Forgetting. A beautiful art book, printed on monogrammed towels from her wedding. Amongst the pages of her art, there are three pages of text. Her words felt like they could have been mine. A thread of resonance, of connection. He few words, elegantly capturing what I was trying to express. Her few words felt like spears and truth.
The first page: They will not be separated again. Her dark and her light will no longer be two separated parts of she, but come together again as two sides of the whole. She will embrace her light and her dark.
The second page: The return of the repressed. Her original truth, her voice, her power and her divinity once repressed and bound, shall return.
And the last page of text in her book: I had a flashback of something that never existed. Deep within the part of me that knows, there rests a story I was never told. I feel it to be true. They have removed it from history, as if she never existed. I have a memory of a story I was never told.
Books are such beautiful objects full of knowledge and power. Another book of significance along this research has been Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, mythologies and stories of the wild woman archetype. She draws on myth and fables, and talks of ritual and embracing all sides of she.
Two books that have been very influential during this research; Light is the New Black and Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell. Whether you are spiritually/esoterically inclined or not, they are an interesting look at the contemporary movement that is a kind of spiritualist feminist ideology.
This author makes reference to the word Virgin meaning a woman One-In-Herself, and not being attached the chaste meaning we think it to me. I had never come across this notion. I googled and googled, but alas the google bubble had me caught in a wheel of same-same. I was finding it very difficult to validate this idea, or find accessible information on any aspect of herstory.
B and I were opp shopping, in Savers of all places, I was searching through the china looking for something pretty I could smash for some of the Read Me images, and he handed me a book. Loved and dog eared and full of hand written notes. Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern by M. Esther Harding. Boom. Moments in time. A brilliant book noted as a psychological interpretation of the feminine principal as portrayed in myth, story and dreams. The book is so well referenced and written. Full of images of early symbols and rich with references to other text and authors on the topic. AND full of referenced descriptions of the original meaning of the word Virgin.
The hand written notes in the book, also offered other texts to read… this is just the beginning…
artwork concept- Aj
archetype costume styling and make up- Aj
black 1 archetype-whore-femme fatal- Cherie
white 1 archetype-virgin-bride- Georgia
black 2 archetype-wild woman- Aj
white 2 archetype-virtuous woman-eternal mother- Felyka
black 3 archetype-wicked witch-crone- Pamela
male body fill in- Ibn
photography and all post production/editing- Aj
lighting tech and photography assistant- b.leideritz
where Aj is pictured- camera snapping- b.leideritz
she danced her light in the dark body fill in- Georgia
she danced her light in the dark gown and corset design and construction- Aj
video artwork concept and editing/production- Aj
soundscape concept and production- origin recording from an old music box playing ‘where do i begin?’ love story- Aj
read me concept, words and images: selections, cropping, editing – Aj
read me layout-graphic design- b.leideritz
rewoven archetype sculpture and embroidery- Aj
mdf love candy concept (cut on laser cutter)- Aj
ancient arachnid weaver of time and narrative- blood red velvet vagina spider- design and construction- Aj
one-in-herself symbol concept- Aj
one-in-herself symbol- vector design- b.leideritz
online exhibition construction- b.leideritz