Photographs: Lucy Levene
If They be Two (2018)
Two-channel looped video installation (10'23").
A collaboration with Susie Green, If They be Two addresses a time in two artists’ lives as they pause to reflect on their bodies, their experiences with and without lovers, and their relationship as friends. The two videos depict the artists’ individual unclothed bodies as they film each other, touching each other with the gaze of their cameras.
The work's title is taken from John Donne’s poem A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning (1612) which reimagines the relationship between two bodies in romantic love. Designed to soothe the rupture of being separated, Donne persuades his lover that they are not two but - rather - one body that when apart, merely becomes greater, occupying the expanding space between them. Examination of feelings between bodies, physical contact, and distanced communication was a starting point for the work.
If They be Two was inspired by the moving image work of Paul Sharits and Carolee Schneemann, the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe and Phyllis Christopher and the biomorphic paintings and sculptures of Paule Vézelay. However, If They be Two is not a nostalgic work but, instead, an attempt to make personal the subjects these precedents address, shifting focus to the artists’ own searches to fulfill sexual and romantic desire, and how these experiences are lived out in their current technological and cultural landscapes. How is it possible to communicate these feelings, represent these energies or portray these experiences and desires?
If They be Two is designed to be shown in an expanded form, presented as two overlapping projected images, allowing encounters between bodies, colours and forms.
Read a commissioned text by Laura Guy HERE
Supported by The Elephant Trust and Arts Council England