During the residency Once upon water at the Artscape Gibraltar Point last September, I had the opportunity to researching specifically female figure that in consequence of this reaction have drowned. I was working on this visual of a female slowly dipping into a pond and letting herself drift away into oblivion, exploring the seductive nature of water become an escape or a deathbed.
Research about female characters that have died by voluntary drowning following feelings of alienation have led me to Ophelia’s symbolic death, a character from the play Hamlet by Shakespeare that drowned. Among these are women’s mental health, the symbolism of water, alienation and the loss of self. Moreover, alienation as the cause of depression for women has prompted further questioning about the borders between madness and depression, euphoria and ecstasy. The suicide of Virginia Woolf has been another starting point; how her descent into madness and sudden lucidity was the confirmation of her departure. I was looking at the material used to illustrate the scene during this play, such as fabric for any fluid material.The final piece, Beneath the willow tree, is the point of view from the water of Ophelia’s death. Filmed in the lake Ontario, the viewer is enveloped by the footage of a figure attempting to drown, not yet succeeding or failing. The physical dress presented in the footage is hanging inside the blue undulated fabric, as a token of the figure’s physical presence.The choice of materials convey the depth and delicate nature of the topics, and the layout refers to the nonlinear, displaced feelings of navigating mental health conditions. And yet a sheer twin of the garment floats away, casting a shadow on the screen as it’s metaphysical form. The viewer can hear through the water echoes of Ophelia’s mad songs. They linger as her words of truth in her world.