February 1, 2010

While the Devil

A while ago I was sent these amazing images by Caitlin Duennebier along with her interesting story "The Devil and Mother Duennebier" and completely forgot to show them.

“Just like I believe in God and have felt God’s warm presence, I believe in the Devil.”

My mother was diagnosed as a manic-depressive when I was four years old. While I was growing up she displayed erratic behaviour. One moment she would be a child, the next a stranger, and on increasingly rare occasions, she would be a friend or a mother again. For my mother, the Devil embodies everything cruel, reckless and mischievous. Because of her affliction she has accepted the Devil into her own life. She always feels that he is with her and plagues her thoughts. “When the Devil’s presence emerges it does not enter my body, but sinks with evil corruption beside me. We don’t make eye contact. The sensation is somewhat like a creature made of black ashes that floats down next to me.”
In order to better understand my mother’s anguish I embarked on a series of photographs that dramatize the relationship my mother has with the Devil. I constructed a costume that is loosely based on the look of the Krampus Devil seen in eastern European tales. The photographs are staged and un-staged but mostly document the psychological turmoil of my mother's everyday life between sorrow and joy, madness and sanity.
By playing the masked character, I become a dual personality. As her daughter, she sees me as a source of relief from her grief while the Devil becomes a source of her pain. Laughter is a way of bringing her back from her sorrows. Oscillating between satire and heartfelt portraiture, the images effect a constant pull between cerebral and subconscious states.

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