THE MAKING OF DARK LADY
Dark Lady emerged environmentally and narratively from subterranean stone structures. The 'tomb' or 'crypt' is her residence where she waits patiently, holding the seeds of our truths and untruths, our egos, our desires, whirling us into a cave of past, present & future, bringing us into an uncomfortable and precise intimacy with our subconscious fears & acquainting us with a confusing multiplicity of self. She cannot be denied. There is a natural death of the old. A struggle between the conscious & unconscious layers. She is the destroyer of illusions, empowering those to move forward, though if led down the wrong path, its shadow self could use its power to feed its own agendas. Once this challenge is taken, there is no going back. The midnight sun's shadow is unveiled, & darkness makes its presence known.
Dark Lady came into being as an energetic force of Yin (cold, stillness, dark, fixed), an opposition to Sky Dance's Yang (heat, movement, light, waves & energy harvesting). An intrinsic part of our mythological mapping during the Augmented Organism Project incorporated various roots of European fairy folklore. For Dark Lady, the characters & energies we worked with spoke to the environmental setting of this chapter. Further archetypal faery influences include:
Abe the Collector
Lys of the Shadows
A Collective of Pixies
Iris of the Rainbows
The Soul Shrinker.
These energies involved calling on discernment from practitioners when aligning the real & the imaginary. Realization and manifestation of actions through awareness of old patterns and fears led to a breaking down of structures of self; of transition & surrendering to the unknown.
The Dark Lady involves a necessary maturation phase of the Maiden, having seen all levels of reality from the underworld & beyond. Dark Lady represents, the shadow self, the pit of darkness where new seeds start to grow. It is not a negative place, but rather a vault within the spacetime that invites those who seek deeper understanding of their paths in the world to get intimate with themselves through experiencing different versions and mirrors of self. The energy and ritual of sacrifice is strong with the Dark Lady. Further mythological influence of this archetype includes a fundamental aspect of the whole of the Augmented Organism Project:
Kāli, the primordial goddess of the force of time & the changing transitions of nature that bring things to life or death (Kāla masculine form). We were also inspired by the definition of kāla, as one that can refer to black, dark color, & destiny as a fixed point in time, a fate, a death. The goddess is seen as a protector & mother of the whole universe, as at the beginning there was only darkness & everything was created in darkness. The goddess has a destructive image, but is dedicated to preservation & balance of nature. She carries the signs on her third eye of the sun, moon & fire --the driving forces of nature (Hindu reverence)
In addition to our main research areas, our main elemental focus for Dark Lady was the moving beyond dualistic generalizations of light and dark, initially calling this section "Midnight Sun" due to the fact that the sun was shining bright in the sky at midnight, a time that most of the world associates with darkness.
PRODUCTION & PERFORMANCE PROCESS
Dark Lady & the element of the Midnight Sun, was a potent polar contrast to the ever present light & sun we experienced during our summer residency. We were also aware that we were lacking in the embodied cultural wisdom of the northern winter months of complete darkness, a time of powerful Yin. The only real experience of total darkness we had was in the underground basement of the Arteles residence in a mysterious and cold concrete cave. This was basement formed the set for the shooting of the middle section of dark Lady. Either side of this section was filmed on location inside the installation Up and Under by Nancy Holt. Both these environments contrasted the rest of the work as spaces forged by the will of man. This then brought up themes of man vs. nature & the dawning of the Industrial and subsequent Information Age. The week leading up to the Dark Lady shoots were emotionally intense. We were more than half way through our residency & our stamina was really tested. We also encountered a lot of young birds, some of them dead (fallen from grace, fallen from safety). Things became more emotionally heavy which was channeled into the work.
The most challenging part of this shoot was in the basement. It was unnaturally still, stale, cold, very very dark & the energy felt very suppressive but the space was calling to unearth the shadow side. This site took the most production preparation & careful planning to clean the space. Setting up the tech side of things included Cy programming strobes to synch with audio that were also on an interruptive phase pattern with camera shutter speed. As a director, Cy needed to work to prepare the character by helping Jazmyne overcoming some personal fears in this chapter by grounding his presence, and supporting the process with positive energy and guidance.
The general characterization, costume concepts, overall energy & effort of movement for Jazmyne's character was established from previous workshop developments and shared research but also included a now refined improv chemistry between director and performer. Most of the costume came from our shopping jaunt in Helsinki's amazing second hand & urban shops, paired with some things that Jazmyne brought over with her from her place of residence at the time of shooting, Germany. The feather came in at the end to honor the death of the birds we encountered & ended up helping to solidify the stirred up witchcraft of the destroyer, with the power to focus that magic beyond judgements of good or evil.
As for the energy of the piece, it was already determined as well as the quality of movement (being heavily focused on very slow body movement with detailed body isolations & hits). There was also consideration in the movement to refer to Sky Dancer, as we knew these two sections were going to piece together.
EXCERPT FROM JAZMYNE'S CREATIVE JOURNAL
"I feel connected with the birds as they know the pathway to the skies, their wings draw figurative magic as we watch them defy gravity, sailing up, up, up and away from the weight that binds us to the earth...but Mama's magnetic energy brings them down, down to rest on her arms, and root into earth again. Birds are the watchers, overseers, our protectors. They are my protectors and I'd dearly hold their feather and flock with them together. TRUTH: A bird is sent into the mines to check the toxicity of air and its body is sacrificed. A bird is sent out as a messenger and is killed for the action of transferring bad news. Birds relay not only messages but signs in the skies, in our future, showing deforestation, weather change, storms on the front, global changes, unrest, and harm. They are sensitivie beings -- their lungs and hearts as fragile as threads of feathers that hold them up. They overwatch the land, they die for us to protect from harms way, from curses, from hate, from toxic energies -- they warn us of what is to come. They are signs of peace and purity as white doves holding olive branches of wisdom. They are vowed as nobal, sacred, of the gods, as their prized feathers decorate royal adornments. Plants migrate and grow in new lands because of them. They are carriers of seed, of growth, of abundance. They are the signal of land at sea. Their senses are destinctive, honed in on sensing far distances. Feeling into instinct they are navigators, the best explorers over distances of sea. R.I.P. to the three birds that are symbols of this transition, the cycle of death and life, to the darkness we must travel through to end out on the other side. "