Substance abuse – be it “hard” or “soft” drugs, misuse of prescription drugs or over-indulgence in alcohol, to name but some of its forms – can be a difficult subject to represent. It can come about due to a variety of means and reasons, often with the person or persons caught in the cycle either trying to hide their dependency or deny it. Circumstance often plays a role in misuse, and that circumstance can vary widely.
With her latest installation, Carla, Walk in the Darkness, Terrygold attempts to weave a story of how substance abuse can grow out of the simplest of situations: peer pressure coupled with parental pressure.
Though a series of written chapters presented in text, interlinked by a series of 3D vignettes and photographs, the installation traces the story of Carla, a young teenage girl who is apparently content with her lot: school and studying to be a dancer – until she runs into some of her peers into smoking some cannabis.
From this seemingly innocent start, Carla’s life spirals – kicking back and just enjoying the heightened mood associated with cannabis, then skipping dance lessons and rebelling against her family’s concern / pressure that gives her a need to seek “freedom”, which itself is a further opening of the Pandora’s box of needing to recapture the comfort and escape of that first high through every more damaging ways – damaging to both herself and members of her family.
The story is set out in a series of descending rooms, starting from the uppermost, where a general introduction to the installation can be found, together with information on how best to view the installation. Spiralling downwards, each room offers a piece of the story, the physical descent from room to room clearly a metaphor for the descent into the darkness of substance abuse / dependency. Following the path down can be a little difficult in places, – so just cam around if you feel your are stuck; there are clues in places – green triangles on the floor or roses spread across them.
It is ultimately a dark tale that does not end happily – as one might expect – and the ending is made that much starker because after it, we get to see what might have happened if, instead of succumbing to a need to be accepted by peers, Carla had uttered a simple word.
Overall, the story is well told; the words of the story have in places obviously been carefully chosen to have maximum impact, and the individual vignettes (some of which may have interactive elements, so be sure to mouse around them rather than simply passing through) emphasise the key points of the tale. That said, there is a risk some might find the story a little too artificial in structure (long has been the debate around whether medicinal use of some drugs can lead to a need / dependency on them or carry a person into the realm “hard” drug abuse). However, as I’ve noted, this isn’t a subject that is easy to represent or broach; as such some license in the structure and outcome should be allowed.
Carla: Walk in the Darkness officially opens at 13:00 SLT on Saturday, January 4th, 2020.
- Carla: Walk in the Darkness (Enoki, rated Moderate)