Clip from ‘Vesmir Peklo’ (2014)
Clips from ‘Flood'(2016)
Clip from ‘Widows’ (2016)
Clip from ’17:17′ (2015)
I am highly intrigued by the work of British artist Susu Larcohe, as she challenges the preconceptions of female hysteria through her films which depict ‘hysterical acts’. Laroche’s work was the starting point for me wanting to explore these ideas of the historical and cultural significance of female hysteria, as it is a subject which is at once passed and ever present in society, as the patriarchal means of control shift and change into less overt, yet arguably equally as powerful forms.
In a recenet exhibition in London, Susu Laroche created an installation comprising of ‘4 hysterical episodes in one room’ (clips of which are above), and then debris such as clay, sand and metal converge in the space of the room, disrupting the connections between the video works through the physicality and presence of the materials. These films explore somewhat irrational or socially inconceivable reactions to traumatic events, such as women who have suffered the mass loss of their possessions in ‘Flood’ after a flood, celebrating with the chairs they have salvaged from the wreckage. Or in ’17:17′ women run back to the scene of a major car accident to fight over a timepiece – something so menial whilst expressing a wrought sense of grief that cannot be conceived in supposedly reasonable or expected reactions.
The way the films performed by radical performance artists New Noveta seems somewhat surreal and dream-like, as they react with large gestures and movements, yet this adds to the unsettling sense of an improper reaction to trauma. Because after all, how should a woman move? How should a woman react to loss? Supposedly through the language and standards of men, which are not fitting for expressions of the female experience. The films grainy quality, as Laroche works with analogue production, presents a sense of history which is every relevant to the barbaric practices that lead to the incarceration and forced treatment of women because they exhibited the believed symptoms of hysteria. Laroche’s films evoke a sense of violent past, taking the viewer through the journey of hysteria and the perceptions of this through the visual language of her films. This also presents an curious duality between the past experiences of women, and the crisis in the representation of women today, as women strive to receive equality under the patriarchal forms that still dictate a woman’s actions.
I am very inspired by the idea of the hysterical act in Laroche’s films, and would very much like to take the idea of this forward, using unexpected reactions to traumatic events to create a narrative which questions the way women are ‘supposed’ to act in situations. I am also interested in the idea of narrative through film, and would like to explore this medium further throughout this project.