Rebecca E Marshall – Fever of the Light
S J Lloyd
Rebecca Marshall’s new installation at blackShed gallery is a thoughtfully layered piece that situates us between three simultaneous screens. One frames a hermit living alone deep in the Siberian forest; the next, Marshall’s child, beginning his encounters with the world and the third, a volcanic landscape in Hawaii, where astronauts are simulating survival on Mars. Three letters are exhibited alongside, addressed to her son when he turns 18 in 2033, the year NASA plans to send the first crew to Mars.
Marshall’s triple vision conjures us to share in her vivid meditative, durational responses to the looking and perceptive process. Beauty in her framing seems to require acts of imaginative extension, a kind of feeling-in to life with the heart of a whole being, not just from abstract disembodied practices or as aesthetics. She witnesses sentience with exquisite sensitivity, but without sentimentality. I come away slowed by her framings, and with an expanded sense of respect for the value and dignity of her subjects. With a feeling something like awe actually or reverence for life, with no Gods inferred or required.
This is the heart of the piece for me. We see Agafya the hermit, embedded in the forest, reading a Bible that everyday connects her to the past. We see a space crew embedded in the imagined future, everyday training their bodies and minds for the as yet unknown. And we see a child suspended somehow between the river of time and the river of life, everyday looking into his mother’s eyes with trust, hope, love and playfulness.
She is an accomplished artist, emotionally and intellectually, and a long respected filmmaker. There is a deep sense of restraint and creative intensity in her work.A highly recommended long visit to her website (rebeccaemarshall.com) reveals how well she does experimental, poetic and fantastically radical and imaginative things, but also how often she chooses to simplify, to hone in, to be very thorough slow and honest in her looking. She has a diamond eye for both still and moving composition and for folding in incredible startling painterly details.
Perhaps she intends to call us all to wider fields of seeing, inclusivity, openness, poetry, significance or perhaps it’s just who she is. Either way her deep looking is a gift to be savoured and enjoyed.
• Hot foot to Robertsbridge and see it until the 31st March. Click here for more
• Q and A with Rebecca E Marshall at Electric Palace Cinema on 10th March 2pm to 3.30pm, £5 book here
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