A Dissected Soul in Second Life

Split Screen: Dissected Soul

I don’t know how many souls I have.
I’ve changed at every moment.
I always feel like a stranger.
I’ve never seen or found myself.
From being so much, I have only soul.

This is the opening stanza of Fernando Pessoa’s lament about our relationship with self, I don’t know how many souls I have, the first two lines of which serve as an introduction to Theda Tammas’ Dissected Soul, now on display at Split Screen, curated by Dividni Shostakovich.

The poem examines the idea that throughout our lives, we never really know precisely who we are. Are we ever really just one person? Or are we an amalgam of experience and reaction – reaction to what we’re feeling, the environment around us, the situation we are in – and the way in which those around us perceive us at that point in time? And how are we affected by the masks we willingly wear according the circumstance – the parent, the lover, the work colleague, the confidante, et al? How do they affect our perception of who we might be – or who we think we are? Is it possible that throughout our lives, the only one who knows the mystery of who we are is God?

Split Screen: Dissected Soul

Against this backdrop, Theda presents an intriguing series of sculptures reflecting this idea of multiple selves. They are fractured, dissected, even presenting one face whilst holding aloft another. Through them wind red lines – heart lines perhaps, a reflection of the time we are given in life. Curling around these lines are strings of barbed wire; a metaphor, possibly, for the blades and sharpness of life which can so easily cause us to change our perception of self and step further away from really knowing ourselves. Central to all of this is a shattered heart, seat of the soul, further echoing the idea of dissected self, broken by our confusion over who we really are.

Given that Second Life is a place which allows us to wear whatever mask we choose and express ourselves in so many different ways, the lament perhaps has special significance; just how many of those masks we use within Second Life, the identities we adopt, further distance us from our core self – or soul?

Split Screen: Dissected Soul

Dissected Soul, is a fascinating, thought-provoking piece, both questioning who we are and presenting a new facet on the discussion of Second Life and identity.

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