Journeys to the Underworld – ABOUT

Journeys To The Underworld is a multimedia project by Australian artist and filmmaker Sarah Gibson begun in October, 2013.

The Underworld is commonly thought of as the realm of death. However, it is also a metaphor for the unconscious, madness and the imagination. It can be a place of death or life and creativity.

The underworld can also be thought of as the “otherworld” where society and culture consigns all that it rejects, despises and wishes to repress and alienate from itself. The project will combine reflections on death and the unconscious with mythology and stories of journeys to the underworld.

The death aspect of  Journeys to The Underworld develops from Sarah’s earlier experimental film The Hundredth Room (2004) and her interpretation of the Bluebeard story in Re-enchantment (2011). She has argued that in the West our curiosity about death is intense, yet at the same time we are fearful of death. We can go through much of our lives without seeing a dead body though we watch hundreds of imitations each week on TV. The animals we kill, we keep out of sight. We let professionals deal with death on our behalf. This project challenges the idea of death as something to be feared, denied, hidden and to be avoided at all costs.

When we imagine the underworld less literally, more metaphorically, it becomes the world of the unconscious, the world of dreams. In looking at dreams we are making a shift of consciousness away from our ego to listen from an underworld perspective. [i] It is this mytho-poetic perspective Sarah brings to Journeys to the Underworld.

CG Jung wrote The dread and resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is, at bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades. [ii]

Journeys to The Underworld draws on ideas from depth psychology. It links us to the realm of the unconscious and dreams through our personal encounters with the thresholds to the underworld and to stories and myths of journeys to the realm of the dead.

The journey to the underworld can bring riches, knowledge, the opportunity to fight the monster and the return of the loved and the lost, to name just some. [iii]

[i] James Hillman The Dream and the Underworld. San Francisco and New York: Harper and Row, 1979.

[ii] C.G. Jung Psychology and Alchemy, Collected Works Volume 12 Para 439,

[iii] Margaret Atwood Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, 2002 p 108