IMN #32 — Summer Wagner

II. SWORDS by Summer Wagner

It's Monday Night #32

Tonight, let’s share thoughts about @bugindreamland's work: in her photographs, the artist stages rituals that ground the fragile, uncertain, threatened presence of humanity as an individuated self.

I'll mainly talk about the series The Parody of a Tangled Thread.

The photos presented in this collection are of great diversity & their common point is undoubtedly less thematic than stylistic: it's a tone, an atmosphere, which results from a certain way of working with light.

Nevertheless, there are recurring motifs, elements that, by their repetition, catch the attention: the telephone screens, the ghosts, the opposition between the interior scenes and the scenes that take place in a more "cosmic" environment.

But first, the light. It is a diffuse light, reminiscent of that which emanates from a screen or a neon light: homogeneous lighting, distributed smoothly and widely; clear shadows with soft edges; blurred or attenuated contrasts.

Overall, the light is cold, pale and artificial, but enveloping. At the same time, each shot is remarkable for the coherence and singularity of its chromatic palette.

Everything is bathed in the same light, immersed in the same range of colors, more or less cold, more or less artificial, which seems to come to us from a reality that is both close and entirely different.

Nevertheless, all the photos of @bugindreamland are somewhere between two chromatic values: orange and blue - sun and night, hot and cold, etc. But what interests the artist is precisely the in-between, the undecided moment when the light is flickering, moving.

Schematically: dawn or dusk. As everyone knows, it is often an abrupt change of light that allows the fantastic to burst into the everyday: that moment when darkness thickens or dissipates all at once, etc.

In short, what interests @bugindreamland are rituals that take place under an intermediary, changing light, which has to do with both the fantasies of the dream and the possibility of its reversal in a dystopian nightmare.

What is a ritual? From an anthropological point of view, it is a sequence of actions organized to maintain or restore order in the cosmos whenever a crisis occurs or threatens to occur: birth, death, illness, marriage, harvest, war, etc.

In ritual, the community ensures that things are in their proper place and that its position in the world is in accordance with sacred rules. Through ritual, a group gives a form or a figure to its humanity and re-enacts the drama through which a group emerges from animality.

@bugindreamland questions the symbolic effectiveness of rituals in our time: she looks for traces of ancient rituals (more or less covered by more contemporary gestures or attitudes) as well as original rituals (imaginary or realistic).

In all cases, they're twilight rites, aged, imbued with a nostalgia that nothing can relieve. @bugindreamland's treatment of image gives it a character that is at once old-fashioned, outdated & contemporary - not only contemporary, but on the edge of anticipation&science fiction.

The artist takes note of a historical configuration in which beings are linked to each other in a virtualized mode.

The borders between the here and the elsewhere, the animate and the inanimate, the technical and the living are put in crisis by devices that we use daily - and which determine us in return to be what we are.

The networking of the world has transformed our intimate sphere, our affectivity - from love relationships to family relationships, friendships, work or hostility.

Humans are shaped by the instruments they use to shape the world - in this case, communication and information storage devices.

What is the result? The domain of "presence" expands: the past is preserved, intact, and can be quoted at will; the absent can be summoned (in image and word) as if they were in the same place as us.

But @bugindreamland's approach is more subtle. On the one hand, it shows that a part of the negative - what a disappearance has of irrevocable, of final, of definitive - is indestructible.

It is the raw and non-negotiable core of death, of the rupture, of the radical separation with others.

She uses the oldest power of photography: to conjure up ghosts (the lover, the friend, the parent, etc.), which also reminds us that, in a photo, all presence is spectral.

The exposure time, the lighting, the filters result, from an aesthetic point of view, in the constitution of a haunted scene - in which the living are visited by the dead or assist helplessly to their own erasure.

On the other hand, there is no prestidigitation, no cheap illusionism in this photographic invocation of ghosts.

@bugindreamland poses a simple and frontal look on the blinking of human beings, on their way of appearing and disappearing - of coming closer and moving away, of touching and losing contact - through a whole set of crepuscular rituals.

Her work is largely based on the search for a poetic balance between enchantment and horror; between solitude and shared intimacy; between deep empathy and indifference; between gentleness and cruelty.

Between these two extremes are all the rites of exorcism, of awakening the dead, the nuptial parades and the nocturnal complicities that give an outline and a meaning to our humanity.

8:46 PM (CET), Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022 — Collector: summergwagner