Absalom’s work explores the themes of religion, dogma and the supernatural through her contemporary interpretation of mythologies, iconography and an investigation into the theory of collective thought. The artist conjures this collective synchronicity through the performativity of body gestures, shapes, colours, abstract words and sounds, which, in their essence are meaningless, yet have been adopted into the shared ritual of human society since ancient times.
In addition to exploring the effect of religion upon traditional art forms, this investigation expands into a reflection of Judeo-Christianity on the aesthetics of the grotesque and horror, specifically in 20th century cinema. Absalom aims to present a classical yet surreal interpretation of dystopias and apocalypses within the framework of contemporary concerns; political, social and environmental. Absalom’s work aims to invoke a sensation of the uncanny by using the dense, overly saturated flatness of Byzantine iconography, in stark contrast to the Flemish Primitive style of her figurative rendering.
Alongside Byzantine and Flemish artwork, the artist also draws a great deal of inspiration from Renaissance painting, Surrealist film/painting, and the installation-like qualities of religious spaces, particularly Cathedrals. Absalom works with oil paintings, woodcuts and short films with recent experimentation into collage, sculpture and installation.
I see my films as a portal into worlds unknown. Each features figures which are humanoid in appearance but entirely otherworldly, without identity and emulating the uncanny. The viewer is given access to a dimension of the mystic and the ritualistic, a cult knowledge destined for their eyes only but with the looming sense that they should not be seeing this, the performance is not for them, they have stumbled across it but now can’t take their eyes away from it. As quickly as the vision appeared, it is suddenly taken away, without explanation or context, leaving the viewer both unsettled and intrigued.
/ MY DEARIE / is one of the earliest of these films, and a very clear example of my stated intentions; transmogrifying the heimlich, a rooftop storage room, into the unheimlich, the site of a sacred dance performed by a silhouetted entity. The grotesque, the uncanny and the sacred are major motifs within my films and are heavily influenced by the works of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky, with particular reference to their artificial symmetry, intense colourisation and unnatural speech/movement. My filmmaking began in 2018, during a study abroad semester in Jerusalem and originally took the form of stop motion as a method of masking my inadequacy behind the camera and at the editing desk. The medium is certainly forgiving, but also lends itself to a startling pace of movement paired with a rigor mortis like form to which I’ve become fond, and so my latest film, / TWO SPARROWS FOR A FARTHING / and my film in progress (halted mid shoot by the entirely unforgiving pandemic), continue to use stop motion in part, though not in entirety. Though painting is my dominant medium, I’ve always felt restricted by its static nature and frustrated in my inability to combine image and text, and though my camera and editing skills remain dauntingly inadequate, filmmaking is what I’m currently most excited by, my projects are getting more ambitious - they are being filmed in public and hired places, requiring more advanced props and featuring actors other than myself. The figures they feature are lifted from my paintings, and in turn the films feed their narratives back into my paintings, I hope at some point these two sections of my practice become indistinguishable from the other.
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