14 March 2014


Now open at MetaLES, curated by Ux Hax, Lanjran Choche and Romy Nayar, is a compelling and disturbing installation by Cherry Manga, Insanity. The dark and dirty yellowish landscape of rolling hills and watery patches is populated with pained figures—sometimes complete, sometimes only heads—whose expressions suggest that not only are their bodies visibly troubled but also so are their minds. The largest figure, a nude female form, stretches across the top of a hill, her back to the earth and her hand reaching upwards with the word "insanity" emerging from her palm (top image). Another female form stands in the water, visible only from the waist up, with distorted heads pushing out from her breast, shoulder, head and hand, as if she's being ripped apart at the seams, and a long surrealistic breath issues from her mouth, another head at its apex (second image). Around her, figures holding failing parachutes plummet into the sea.

The heads are everyone: yearning up from the ground, melted in a Dalíesque way over wires, or wrapped in chains, some suggesting that they're calling for help, others too far gone (third image). Ladders, which we might think of as a symbol of upward progress or motion, are twisted into unusable shapes (fourth image). Despondent gray forms sit amid a hideous black scribble that rotates around them. The ground texture itself suggests the walls of a padded room. Having had people in my own life who have grappled with mental illness, including a suicidal partner who required extended hospitalization, I was struck by how well Cherry captured and conveyed a pervasive feeling of helplessness—and I'm not really even referring to people who might be so ill as to be labeled insane.

Be sure to have your local sounds turns up and to zoom in on the figures—many have haunting songs or sounds waiting for you. Arts writer Thirza Ember posted a lengthy piece about Insanity on her blog, Second Life ArtsParks, and I recommend reading it for additional perspective and insight. While you're visiting MetaLES, you can also visit the machinima area—a teleport is located near the landing point, and takes you back to see installations by previous artists at the space, including Rebeca Bashley, Cica Ghost, Selavy Oh, Anley Piers, Maya Paris, Bryn Oh, Romy Nayar, Shellina Winkler and Fushcia Nightfire.

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