Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Marlene Renaud-B’s Dis/sociation

(Photo by Henry Chan)

The floor space is crisscrossed with wires. There is a table, camera on a tripod, two flourescent tubes, a baby monitor, microphone, and a large mirror propped against the wall. Marlene lifts off the plywood table-top, and leans it against the wall. She spins and climbs her long limbs over and through the empty table, round and round like a rectangular hoola-hoop, until she’s breathing hard, and fighting with it.

She places it back on the floor, turns the lights out, gets under the table. The camera is set up to catch her image, film it and project it on the wall. It is an infrared camera. Her image is black and blue and shadowy. It looks like she’s hiding in a closet. She takes the baby monitor and drags it across her skin. It sounds like magnified sandpaper.

She moves to lift a tube of florescence. Waving the tube over the baby monitor, it causes interference, distortion. The baby monitor creaks and groans into the microphone. A discovery made late at night? Who knew florescence could make a baby monitor sing?

Marlene moves to the mirror. There is another microphone taped to the back, she flicks it, and it starts to boom and groan. She wobbles the mirror, pulls it until it’s leaning on top of her, crouches down on the floor, the mirror on top. The sound is of a giant, treading over a rocky landscape. She lies down, rolls over, props it up and rests there, her body and its reflection like hands held together at the fingertips.

(Photo by Henry Chan)

Marlene spreads out a canvas sheet, takes four jars of water down from the shelf. She draws a line down the centre of the cloth with lipstick, places two jars on either side. She lays the plywood table-top on the jars. Over this precarious set-up, she  lays the long mirror, it bends ever so slightly in the middle, drooping at the edges. Marlene stands on top of it all and starts jumping like a child. I want to stop her, scold her like a child. Don’t do that! It’s going to…

And then it does. Smashes gloriously in elaborate shards all over the canvas. She picks up a projector. It is running the footage she recorded earlier, under the table, hiding in the dark. The footage is reflected back at an angle onto the walls and ceiling. Like one of those spinning children’s nightlights that project stars and moon, trees and birds and butterflies onto the dark walls at night.

It all happens so suddenly. The effect is startling, raw, jagged, my heart is racing. It’s gutsy, inarticulate, emotive, and yet somehow very cerebral, in its controlled, dispassionate delivery.

Marlene pulls on a rubber face mask. She tucks her fingers inside the eye holes and pulls them out and pours the water from the jars into her eyes, like reversed tears.  She empties three jars this way, then yanks off her mask and spits water out of her mouth, aimed at the ceiling, like a fountain.

(Photos by Henry Chan)

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1 Comment

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One response to “Mirror, mirror, on the wall

  1. miguel invierno

    wild. can’t quite believe what youre describing actually happened. but there are the photos… mw

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