28 November 2012

Cherry Manga's "Danse Macabre" at Split Screen (and 2nd anniversary)

From now through the end of December, Split Screen presents Danse Macabre by Cherry Manga. Well known for her surrealistic imagery, such as women with bird heads, recently Cherry's imagery has had a more symbolic character. Danse Macabre is a further step in that direction. It has three parts or levels. The first is a revision of Chess-Cherry (now on view at the torno Kohime Foundation). As Ziki Questi hints in her blog, Chess-Cherry brings a startling and vulnerable eroticism to the chessboard, because on each of the chess pieces poses a nude woman. (I am reminded of Shakespeare's play The Tempest, in a young couple are revealed in the act of playing chess: the game becomes a metaphor for sexuality.) But death also lurks here, as the women's skeletons show on or through their skins. In Danse Macabre, Cherry alters the scene in several ways: the entire installation is now in the air, a grey sky surrounding it (the windlight Shadow1), the squares of the chessboard, which are textured with old newspaper classified advertisements, have the words Danse Macabre overlaid on them; a chessboard floating above like a roof is gone; and most prominently, the board is now dominated by a strange spider-woman, fly wings springing from her back, a cigarette dangling from her lips, and dressed like Pierrot. Notice when you walk on the board that the squares light up and issue a sound (also new to this version).

One reaches the smaller second level by walked up a ramp of bones (femurs, to be precise). Again we have a chessboard, but rather than chess pieces, it has floating spheres with skulls on them, while the words Danse Macabre swing about the space. The spheres contain poses -- dance-like, appropriately enough -- so be sure to sit on them. Music plays in the background.

Another bone ramp takes one up to the third level, where the actual danse macabre is located. A danse macabre is a medieval portrayal of the fact that all of us will ultimately die. In Cherry's Danse Macabre, first one sees a thicket of the words "Danse Macabre." Past that there is a ring of dancers, all hooded women, their skeletons on their skins, circling around a tower. The latter consists of a spiral staircase made first of legs with skeletons on them, and then more femurs. Posed women float on spheres. And all of it is placed on a dark hemisphere, above which another hemisphere has opened like a hatch, but also exploded out to the sky. Intense music plays ominously.

When you arrive, be sure to pick up the avatar skin and attachments in the spider woman!

Cherry made a machinima of Danse Macabre:

Danse Macabre is showing at Split Screen through 31 Dec. Misprint Thursday's terraform installation, which opened in October, continues at ground level.

SLURL to the Split Screen entrance: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Beleza/36/219/1501.

Also, this work marks two years of installations at Split Screen!