Arachnid is the title of Cica Ghost’s latest installation, which opened on May 22nd. As the title suggests, it’s one that might have arachnophobes (like me!) a little cautious about entering. However, this is Cica’s work, and so it contains much of her delightfully fanciful outlook, rather than being intended to outright scare – although I did find possible hints of double meanings here and there which may or may not have been intended.
On arrival, visitors find themselves inside a large cage within a foggy environment. Are the bars perhaps a warning about venturing forth? Or are they there to present a feeling of security and safety?
Other cages loom nearby, some on the ground, others on pedestals. Several present a bedroom scene; beds are a frequent motif in Cica’s work, and thus we have something of a connection between this and her earlier installations, such as Moonlight. Here however, the bedrooms seem to offer one of those double meanings.
“Rooms are a kind of hiding places, so they look like cages.” Cica said to me as we talked about her work. I suggested there’s another aspect however: bedrooms offer us the comfort of sleep, but also the risk of dark dreams, which oft can feature spiders; thus our bedrooms could be cages trapping us in our nightmares. “Could be,” Cica replied, enigmatically.
There’s certainly a hint of this darker aspect to be found as you explore: in one corner of this landscape, filled as it is with strange, twisted tree-like forms, a web holds a couple of human victims. Suspended above the ground and cocooned to their necks in spider silk, looking for all the world like they are snuggled in sleep.
Elsewhere, webs strung across the strange trees have captured large butterflies, wings flapping helplessly, alerting the spiders to their presence. The butterflies in turn, seem to have emerged from a huge garden cloche, where some are still feeding on the vegetables growing beneath it. Given cloches are intended to protect the items grown beneath them, is there perhaps another message here in keeping with the (false?) security suggested by the cages?
Whether one chooses to seen meaning or message in the installation or not, time should be taken to explore, as there is much that is presented here which might easily be missed. One of her little stick figures from the likes of Ghostsville resides within a wardrobe, for example, while touching the televisions in some the cage bedrooms will, if you have media enabled in your viewer, play music videos. Be sure to click around elsewhere as well, as there are spots you can sit and float and become part of the setting.
Meanwhile, towards the south-east corner of the region, a pianist plays on a stage, his only audience a crow and little rat. Hie seems oblivious to the surrounding webs, although one has captured some of the butterflies close by, and he pays scant attention to a spider lurking nearby. If the music videos on offer through he televisions are not to your liking, then the sound stream offers a perfect accompaniment to his playing.
And the spiders? Yes, they’re here as well, both on the ground and overhead. But again, arachnophobes need not fear. These aren’t prone to pouncing, stinging, wrapping or devouring. Rather they are content to observe the comings and goings of visitors; and if they do spin webs, it’s likely to happen we all aren’t looking!
- Arachnid (Rated: Moderate)