Persephone is often depicted veiled representing her time in the Underworld.
In October 2013 Sarah Gibson together with photographer Digby Duncan undertake a collaborative artist residency with Obracadobra in Oaxaca, Mexico.
We are interested in Octavio Paz’s statement: ‘’Death” is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London [and Sydney] because it burns the lips. The Mexican is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love. It is true that there is the same fear that others have, but at least he doesn’t hide this fear, nor does he hide death; he contemplates her face with impatience, with contempt, irony.’[i]
On this journey we enter the Mexican realm of death and the Underworld. Creatively and conceptually our starting point will be the Day of The Dead rituals and celebrations and to encounter Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec “Lady of the Underworld’.
We plan to weave into our work in Oaxaca, Digby’s photographic work with the themes of fate and death and decay and Sarah’s film work and painting practice including a character ‘Red Girl’ who expresses her inner emotional psychological journeys. Sarah brings Red Girl to Mexico with a view to experimenting with the interface between video and painting.
From the residency in Oaxaca we hope to return with the seeds of an innovative work that brings together place, story, mythology, dream, and cultural and psychological reflections.
[i] Octavio Paz’ Death in the Mirror’ in The Mexican Day of the Dead (ed) Chloe Sayer. Boston: Shambhala, 1990
We are more familiar with The Underworld depicted by Dante and Homer in the Illiad and Odyssey than Mictlan, the underworld of Aztec mythology.
Journeys toThe Underworld extends Sarah’s exploration of Baba Yaga, the dark mother, the witch and the dark Goddesses of underworld begun in her project Re-enchantment. She is interested in stories of the female descent to the underworld such as that of the Sumerian Ancient Goddess Innana and the Greek Goddess Persephone. How do their journeys differ from that of the male heros such as Gilgamesh or Odysseus?
The Underworld is a myth, a place, an idea, a metaphor, a story, a dream, a space, a point of view, a journey, a descent…
Margaret Atwood proposes that all writing of the narrative kind, and perhaps all writing, is motivated, deep down, by a fear of and fascination with mortality- by a desire to make the risky trip to the Underworld, and bring back something or someone back from the dead.
Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, 2002
“Entering the underworld” refers to a transition from the material to the psychical point of view.
James Hillman The Dream and the Underworld, 1979