Phoebe Boswell: The Lizards Within Us
Preview: 6 November, 12-6pm
Talk: Saturday 21 November 4-6pm – Phoebe Boswell will be telling stories and discussing the work
Finissage: 27 November, 6-9pm
Everything we tell you today is true…if you wish to believe it is. It’s all just words anyway, right?
The Lizards Within Us is a multi-sensory installation in which Phoebe Boswell uses film, drawing, sound, and interactive sculpture to examine how storytelling, nuance, and language aid our personal predilections towards belief.
In the summer of 2014, Boswell spent three months in Zanzibar, researching the island’s prevalent belief in an ulterior ‘spirit world’. She was on a yearlong residency at the Florence Trust in London at the time, based in a studio situated in a church. Boswell was intrigued by the notion of what makes a redundant but never deconsecrated church remain ‘holy’; what that actually means, and how it is upheld. Wanting to explore belief systems as a whole, the fundamental notions of why and how we believe, but not wanting to delve into the politics of organised religion, Boswell began to realise as her research progressed that nothing honest was going to come from her vantage point, as a cynical Londoner examining the intricacies of this deeply entrenched East African belief system. She would have to place herself within the work, and explore the frailties within her own body, if she was ever going to make any true and valid work about belief.
The exhibition’s central film The Lizard of Unmarriedness (It’s All About How You Tell It) is the starting point in which Boswell begins to narrate her tale. Subsequent artworks such as The Mechanics of Illusion I, II, III, and In Case of Corporeality deal with notions of ritualistic practice, identity and illusion. Through various gaps in Boswell’s narrative, all sorts of illusions and beliefs can begin to emerge from her initial encounter with the witchdoctor when he first mentions ‘the lizard’ spirit. The installation invites a consideration of belief and human frailty and what it is that gives us the impulse to believe. Epilogue acts as the final paragraph to Boswell’s tale and the viewer is left to discern what they make of the story.
Curated by Lanny Walker