The Other (2019 -) ongoing moving image project

The Other (24mins) is the first iteration of a moving image project based on the poem Le Gars (The Kid) by Russian Silver Age poet Marian Tsvetaeva.

Low resolution version of the video can be viewed here, please email for password.

Opera singer and my friend Latana Amari Phoung and I attempt to read the poem Le Gars (The Kid) by ‘doing’ it, along with reading its text. In the poem, a young girl, Marusya, falls in love with a ghoul (he is Le Gars, or The Kid) and sacrifices her life and that of her family in order to protect him. Latana points out at one point during the rehearsal that the poem is very cinematic in its landscape, it’s full of textures; we take this on board; we use our bodies to understand the trauma the characters went through, their dilemmas and decisions; we practice trust (I walk backwards with my eyes shut) and our ability to read each other in the space. 

There is a clear bifurcation between the natural ‘thing’, the beast that is The Kid, and the ordered society to which he and Marusya are expected to adhere to. In Matters of Care (pp. 32-33) Maria Puig de la Bellacasa recounts Latour’s work, which might help us understand these binaries: ‘…We remain trapped in binary oppositions, in the perception that in order to account for phenomena we need to bridge the gap between two worlds. And even though bridging, we still tend to give one side the power to know, and even do, the other: nature explains society (or vice versa).’

It is not until the end of the second part of the poem that the reader learns of Maroussia resurrection, marriage and that, defying once again the social system she has been brought up to obey, she takes the first opportunity to re-join her love The Kid. Maroussia gains agency via becoming 'an other' (she dies and by his will / curse, resurrects); he, in turn, gains agency of his own ceasing to be an unwelcome guest but becoming instead a person worthy of love, care, and devotion.

While here we only work through the first part of Tsvetaeva's poem, the second part will be visualised entirely from micro and macroscopic imagery of pants, microbes, soils - all things relating to transformation of biological elements and energies into one another. This larger and longer piece will take the form of a multi-screen installation.