Artist and sometimes blogger Beatrice O’Connell has a new show opening on Thursday the 17th of November in IMOCA from 7-9 pm. The image you see below and many of those in the show are based on a folk story from northern Madagascar. I like art with a story attached, and think it can add an extra layer of complexity to the image. You can read the story after the jump below and her show runs until the 28th of November. Hopefully I’ll be able to get more images and maybe even a short interview before the show opens (no pressure Beatrice, honest!).
In a remote part of northern Madagascar there is a legend. One day a lost traveller, thirsty and exhausted, arrived in a village asking for water. The village chief explained that he wished they had enough water to demonstrate the tribe’s natural good will towards strangers but unfortunately as water was such a scarce and valuable resource, they would have to refuse his request. The traveller who happened to be a witch doctor left empty handed. However, on the way out of the village he met a young pregnant woman. Seeing that he was thirsty she offered him the last of her water. Furious with the lack of kindness shown by the village yet heartened by the kindness of the woman, he cursed the village with the chief’s two wishes; that they would have enough water to satisfy the thirst of strangers, and that the villagers would show their true selves. In the morning the village was completely flooded and all the inhabitants except the young woman had been turned into crocodiles. It is said that the local people are all decedents of the woman who gave the stranger water. The locals feel an affinity and sympathy towards the crocodiles and offerings of zebu meat are made on religious festivals.
This tale is taken as a starting point for an engagement with social and gender history. Drawn from the artist’s personal experience, themes of isolation and vulnerability are explored. Individual acts of kindness and affection are contrasted with societal greed. Questions are posed around the individual’s relationship with her surroundings. These questions are interwoven throughout the narrative, allowing metaphors to emerge. The artist draws on her own photographic archive taken while documenting her travels. Theatre and literature are also referenced to explore human vulnerability.