This new film is shown as part of Magnetic Atlas installation, and the three synchronised screens use still sequences, cine film and digital footage.
Huldra takes its name from a story, versions of which can be found in the folklore of some Northern European and Scandinavian countries. As with other components of this exhibition, it is a speculative telling about humans in relation to more than human forces and images. The tale concerns a female spirit called Huldra who inhabits the inner reaches of the forest, and is only seen by the unlucky few. She has various guises; young or old, guardian or godmother, she sometimes has a long cow’s or fox’s tail, sometimes she has claws, she can appear when there is a violent whirlwind or when there is deep fog or snow. Variations of the name and themes abound, but one constant is that she is two distinct and different things expressed through her visible face and invisible back. It is a cautionary tale of following the sirens song and wandering deeper into the dark forest in search of the elusive and insubstantial until you are lost for ever. In the film, the woodcutter hears the song of the Huldra and follows the sound. As he approaches her, she disappears and the woodcutter walks deeper into the forest in pursuit. As he approaches her she turns away, he sees that she has no back – the void is full of stars. He is unable to find his way back and dies lost and frozen.
The story talks of metamorphosis and magic, the visible and the invisible, heaven and earth. Just like the miracles in Ordinalia in which the wood of the cross takes on the role of a bridge or a medium, the Huldra is a bridge between the visible and invisible. The world is about what we can and what we can’t see; in the work we looking through the mirror to a concurrent reality. The tale emphasises how all too easy it is to cut apart the visible and the invisible, or the world of logic and tuition and that of reverie and direct and unmediated intuitive knowledge, but both are necessary, as are the ways society has of interweaving these two worlds with forms of worship and ritual. Tales such as this have messages about the necessity of the duality, the truth of an idea lit up in one flash of insight and a bridging mechanism from the physical to the spiritual. The watching crows and rooks circle around and as in many folk tales, the presence of these sombre and portentous birds represents time as well as the cycle of life and death which would draw to a close at the end of the world. The audio for the film work is predominantly created using the sampled and overlaid sound of the wind through large turbines when they are braking or changing speed, mechanical music box and bird song.
View stills from Huldra film and installation shots at St Johns