no.1 and no. 2, 2005
still from continuous loop dvd
Eyes rest on the still image of a forest landscape. It is spring or summer. Birds chirp and sing continuously. Their theatrical sing song suggests something wonderful is about to be discovered. Within the still forest there is slight movement. A brush of hair, an elbow, a hip, naked flesh...carefully camouflaged in amongst the trees and foliage, two female figures try to hide from view. A blonde and a brunette women station themselves each behind a tree. The viewer catches glimpses of them as they adjust their skirts and stockings to squat and then stand. Their movements are synchronized and awkward as they discreetly try to hide their actions. Although the women's movements are ambiguous it appears that they are relieving themselves. Through the continuous looping of the footage the women endlessly repeat this action, never to part from behind the trees. The forward and reverse play of the video transforms the natural physical actions of the women into something quite strange. No. 1 and No. 2 use traditional notions of the figure as narrative within a landscape. Conventions of beauty and mystique drawn by the forest and its soundtrack pull the viewer into the work to play upon its disguised activities. Saccharine audio combined with a still ephemeral forest creates a fantastical, perhaps kitschy mood. References are made to story book forest scenes from Walt Disney’s Snow White. It is an attempt to heighten the nostalgic senses within the viewer. In No. 1 and No. 2 these feelings are juxtaposed with a not so sweet discovery of two women "going" in the woods. Like animals in the wild, the women religiously remark their own territory. A sense of camaraderie exists between them as they carry out their hidden deeds. Soldier like; the women are dressed in identical gray uniform. This conjures up forest scenes from fantasy films of war and sci-fi such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Their moment is intimate, vulnerable and subtlety exhibitionist. The viewer or tracker positioned as the voyeur is forced into the private space of the women, unable to fully see everything, No. 1 and No.2 acts a humorous ode to the collaborative team of Gilbert and George. A quick reminder of the naked shit pictures and video, Ode to Spring. In the video the two men wander aimlessly about the edges of a forest, perhaps looking for a place to piss or merely bird watching. Dressed in suits they are ready for something but nothing happens. Sweet bird song accompanies their stroll.
Installation: A small aquarium tank is set within a wall. The viewer peers through the glass of the aquarium which contains a rear screen video projection. The projection becomes a three dimensional experience. Within the forest contents of the aquarium, the women, act as specimens. There is an emphasized aspect of discovery as the viewer looks through the tank to find the two figures. The viewer’s attention is focused on the woman as a spectacle.
all images © Diana Shpungin & Nicole Engelmann 2000-2007