Leviathan/Ouroboros (2008)

Leviathan/Ouroboros is a video installation consisting of two complementary performances shown on adjacent screens. On the left-hand screen (Leviathan) I am kneeling before a bowl of water, I pick it up and attempt to drink all of the water. On the right-hand screen (Ouroboros) I am also kneeling before a bowl of water, but this time I place my hands on either side of the bowl and bow so that my face is submerged in the water. I hold my face under water for as long as I can hold my breath before I resurface.

The work refers to the hermetic concept of a life divided into polar opposites as an explanation for our feelings of brokenness and inadequacy. Through the practice of Hermeticism and the reconciliation of our disparate parts we can recover our wholeness and reach our full potential as spiritual beings. In this work the polar opposites of male and female, conscious and unconscious, active and passive are embodied in the two performances. These ideas are further complicated with the inclusion of Judaeo-Christian theology and psychoanalytical theory. The Leviathan is a biblical creature representing the chaos of the sea and is so great that it is said only God can slay it. According to Job 41:9, “Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering”. My attempts to drink the water belie my desire to subdue my sub-conscious/spirituality, to have total control. The Ouroboros is an alchemical symbol for rebirth and is complemented by the baptismal action that signifies passing into death and then rising to new life. Bowing into the water is an act of submission in contrast to Leviathan’s attempts at control. Leviathan/Ouroboros does not propose a superior tactic for achieving catharsis, both approaches fail. I cannot drink all the water and I cannot hold my breath forever. Instead, like Hermeticism, it suggests a synthesis of ideas.