Currently open at the Third Eye Gallery curated by Jaz (Jessamine2108) is Moonlight Dancer, an interactive exhibition by Jaz and Harry Cover (Impossibleisnotfrench). Now, to be honest,this is another exhibit I’m getting to somewhat on the late side (again due to RL commitments), and so it may not be open too much longer – but I do recommend a visit before it closes, as it is something very unique.
The focus of the installation is the story of a young girl who is suffering from Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). This is a genetic disorder that causes a decreased ability for the body repair DNA damage such as that caused by ultraviolet light. Visible symptoms include a severe sunburn after only a few minutes in the sun, freckling in sun exposed areas, dry skin and changes in skin pigmentation. These can also occur alongside physical and nerve-related issues such as hearing loss, poor coordination, and loss of intellectual function, while complications can include high risk of skin cancer (with around 50% of young children suffering from the condition developing skin cancer by age ten without preventative measures), cataracts / corneal blindness, seizures, and the potential for sufferers to develop additional cancer, including brain cancer.
There is no cure for the condition, and treatment (outside of cancer treatments, should these occur) comprises protective clothing and sunglasses when outdoors,remaining out of the Sun for as much as possible and vitamin D supplements. The average life expectancy of those diagnosed is around 35 years if no neurological complications occur, or around 28-30 years should neurological complications occur.
Moonlight Dancer presents the story of the girl as nine interactive chapters, each contained within its own display area. Chapters initially appear as an open magazine lying on a bare wood floor that can be read “as is”, but if touched will invite the reader to rez a scene that matches the chapter, creating a 3D scene. Included in this scene is a larger version of the magazine (for easier reading) and a headphones icon. Chick the latter, and you’ll be able to hear the chapter as read by Fionn Bookmite – just click the offered media play button.
Set in India – where XP has one of its highest incidences – 1 in 370 – and life expectancy is at the shorter end of the range for those suffering from it, the story follows a young man, Raj who encounters the young girl (Priya), as she dances by Moonlight. Intrigued, he strikes up a conversation with her, and thus starts to learn about her condition. Thus a relationship is struck between them, and we are able to witness its growth whilst simultaneously learning about XP ourselves, and the life those who are afflicted must live, their world a place where not only sunlight can be lethal, but in which just about any source of UV radiation can take its toll: television, computer and mobile ‘phone screens – even electric lights.
I’m not going to give the entire story away – people should visit Moonlight Dancer and follow it for themselves. What I will say is that the story and the installation is exceptionally well done – and quite moving as it builds towards its ending. I’ll also say that it is not merely an info dump about XP: it is also a story of strength, love, hope and light shining within a (quite literal) darkness.
I come from India. I was shocked to learn the high degree of prevalence. We always think that because we have darker skin, it will handle the sun better, but that is not the case. Harry and I were looking at XP casually when I read about the cases in India and it is sad. The heroine in this story is fairly well off, but when it is in the poorer sections of the society it is even worse … And most people are not aware that something like this exists, so Harry and I wanted to make people aware of it.
Jaz, on developing Moonlight Dancer
I understand that Moonlight Dancer will remain open until the weekend of the 5th / 6th December 2020 – and I do recommend you stop by; you can also find more information on XP, including world-wideorganisations helping to treat those affected with it, via Google.
With thanks to Jaz for the invite, and Cale for the reminder to visit.
- Third Eye Gallery (Midnight Sanctum, rated Moderate)