CybeleMoon (Hana Hoobinoo) is renowned for her fabulous mixed-media art. It carries within it a richness of tone, a mixing and balance of light and shade, a depth of symbolism and – most poignantly – a wonderful framing of narrative that makes any exhibition of her work in Second Life utterly unmissable.
All of this richness, depth and framing is on display in full force at The Itakos Project, curated by Akin Alonzo, where Cybele presents The Stolen Child, a series of 15 images presented within a glade-like setting caught in the enfolding arms of ancient ruins, which has been specially built for the exhibit by Akim. Reached via the teleport door in the main foyer of the gallery, this setting is not merely a backdrop for Cybele’s art, it is part of the overall theme of the exhibition, designed through its form and lighting to increase the feeling of immersion in in the story the exhibition presents.
This story is not offered as a linear tale; rather, there is a central strand of theme running through both setting and images. This strand leads us through Cybele’s images, linking them indirectly and without necessary order (although one is suggested, somewhat by the circular placement of the pieces) as they form windows, if you will, into the underlying proposition of the exhibition; a proposition a proposition Cybele explains thus:
Fairies are not benevolent creatures at all, attracted by the strength and vitality of mankind, they kidnap children and especially newborns, or seduce (for the purpose of kidnapping) beautiful girls and boys.
She continues by noting the myth of the fairy lies routed in a times past need to rationalise the death of a child, be it at birth or with a short span of months or years thereafter: that the fairies had stolen the child away from a otherwise sad destiny. Within this weaving of fable, there was also menace: children with autism, depression, or other mental health issues were at times considered to have lost their souls as a result of eating fairy food.
Thus through Cybele’s art were are presented with a series of poignant scene sit within the framework of the dome of a night’s sky – the time when fairies might be abroad more than during the hours of daylight – and within a symbolic ring of ancient walls and arches. The latter carries with it a echo of the fairy ring of mushrooms that act as doorways to the fairy realms, or the idea of the faery castle hidden from mortal eyes by the form of a hill, and into which abducted children might be taken should they not take care.
That central strand running through the images – and the exhibition as a whole – takes the form of The Stolen Child, written in 1886 by by William Butler Yeats, who was also captivated by the entire mythology of faeries in Irish mythology. Through the words of his poem, we witness the bewitching song of the faerie folk, calling to children, tempting them away…
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
Cybele takes lines and words contained within the poem as titles for each of her pieces. Thus, each image forms that window I mentioned above, a glimpse into a scene, one that is often double-edged. On the one hand, it may seem innocent and rich in joy or tranquillity: young folk running through a meadow; a view across rolling hills at twilight while sheep graze; the innocence of blowing into a dandelion. On the other, the titles of the pieces hint at the darker element of fae intent: the stealing away of children, of leaving mothers bereft, to deny the young that chance to see sheep grazing at twilight or know the comforts of home and hearth, their young lives having been swept away with the promise of dances by moonlight in places forbidden by their ever-anxious parents.
To further accompany the exhibition, Cybele also provides a short story, together with additional images, that can be found on her (always enchanting) website. Also presented with the story and images is an audio recording of the marvellous Loreena McKennitt, who put the words of The Stolen Child to music. I’ll leave you with a video of the song from one of Ms. McKennitt’s live performances, and the note that this is a truly engaging and evocative exhibition; rich in narrative and atmosphere, and absolutely not to be missed.
- The Itakos Project (ATL, rated Moderate) – remember to take the teleport door in the gallery’s foyer to reach the exhibition!