Thursday, 25 November 2010

As Time Goes By

Alice Anderson's Doll has been in the Bay Window for almost three weeks.
I remember a conversation I had with the artist when we were planning the installation:

sy: You know, I am scared to death by that doll.
AA: I know. She is very strong.

Dolls are tricky, mysterious, sometimes quite frightening objects.

My aunt had a doll once. The doll was dressed in pink, had dark skin, glass eyes, and a frozen smile showing little white teeth. She was seated in a rocking chair, next to a tall dresser with an unnerving ticking grandfather clock on it. When visiting her as a child, I would cross the bedroom at the fastest pace just to avoid looking at her. That grin and those eyes weren’t just fakes: there was something eerie about that lifeless double of a human being, something that didn’t quite fit. It wasn’t just the same old story about it coming to life at night: she always had a sparkle of life of her own.

I saw the same sparkle in Alice's doll, exactly as I have previously written: I remember walking past that doll at one of Alice’s solo shows and, strengthened by my adult condition, almost ignoring her until, out of the corner of my eye, I clearly saw her grinning. It wasn't a kind smile, rather a mischievous one.
And, for The Bay Window Project, the Doll and I were going to stay very close.
I was already imagining horror movies-like scenes, with me wondering at night to go to...that place and finding the Doll in a different position from the one she was supposed to be.
I know: I watch too much TV.

On installation day, Alice came with a different doll and told me her story: she was made from the same mould used for the first one but, nonetheless, came out as an "older" version of it and the artist herself. 
Like a mother. Less mischievous, and perhaps more worried. She, too, is dressed in pink, but is not smiling at all.

In spite of the role of the mother in Alice Anderson's work, where she is the one trying to put an end to her daughter's existence, I am finding the doll's presence strangely reassuring. 
She sits and sits and sits and sits... and sometime I feel for her solitude. She looks at the world, often overlooked, and unable to interact. On the opening day, when Alice was checking the Doll's position looking at the window from the street, some kids saw her and commented: "Oh my God, WTF is that?! A doll! FKN scary, man!" And I can quote another reaction from my friend Wonderland, a mommy blogger, who was in London last week, took a picture of the doll in the window and commented: "Now I can say that I visited this person's house and survived!"

The only thing that the Doll wins over is, in fact, time. She will stay the same, whereas everything around her changes. Like a vampire or Dorian Gray's portrait in reverse.
Now, you may be wondering why I chose this conclusion and perhaps that's easy to guess: the post was initiated on the 20th of November, my birthday. As the day passes, I change slightly, a little bit more, with no one noticing.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Doll's Birthday

It seems she is really comfortable in the window and, since it's her birthday, I just thought to warm things up a bit.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Vampires Suck. Not all of them, though.

I have always been into vampires.

One of my "biggest regrets" is not having written a story that I had in mind when I was in primary school: it was about a vampire girl, aged 12, who didn't want to kill humans and then falls in love with one of them. Impossible love, of course. This made me jealous of every successful novel or movie that came out afterwards, from Interview with the Vampire (1994) to bloody Twilight (2008) and, finally, arriving to Let The Right One In.
Oh can't patent ideas, can you?

The release of the American remake Let Me In by much respected director Matt Reeves, prompted me to watch the original Swedish movie, Låt den rätte komma in. 

I said I am into vampires, not horror movies. Therefore the immortal Christopher Lee and Murnau's Nosferatu are not included in the list. Hail to them, but no, thanks. Perhaps Gary Oldman's Dracula can still make it despite his various metamorphosis in furry wolf, giant bat, rats, old man, hot prince...
My ideal of vampire is, unfortunately, the Hollywood type: painfully beautiful, cold eyes, trickle of blood nobly falling from the corner of his mouth. Who, woman or man, wouldn't offer the neck to Brad Pitt? I bet Kirsten Dunst has a framed giant poster of this picture in her house.

Right, end of digressions.
Let The Right One In is very, very, very Ingmar Bergman: the silence; the suspended atmosphere telling us about a country where life goes on slowly, beaten by rigid seasons; the almost inquiring videocamera, closing up on the characters' soul. Real life is brilliantly painted in the movie and...oh, all of a sudden there is a vampire in the picture. It's a bit clashy, but nonetheless works.
Said vampire has no problem whatsoever in killing people and sucking their blood, to live. And the protagonist, Oskar, seems to have no problem with it either. A bit creepy there, I must say.

I was expecting someone to die. To turn into ashes. At least to get charged with murder, in the usually cathartic plot: the heroes win, the villains pay. Even if the villain is the hero.
Instead, the end - spoilers alert! - sees the two protagonists leaving the town together, with the boy ideally becoming the vampire's new guardian and partner (in crime). No issues about growing up apart, immortality vs mortality, etcetera. Quite a hasty, naive ending, and a shame, as it leaves too much space for imagination and a very worrying idea about rough justice: are you bullied at school like Oskar? Hit them harder, or befriend a vampire to have the thugs tore to pieces, why not.
This last bit, of course, adds a bit of implausibility to the whole situation, but the message is still clear: don't trust the system, do it yourself.

What happened to redemption? Lessons learned? Education?
I might sound like an old auntie or the preacher here, but movies are the reflection of real life, a mirror of what might happen. All of a sudden, movies are full of vigilantes administering their own justice.
And we sympathise with them, but maintaining at the same time our own judgment criteria.
I hope.

I would like to remember the vampire like this. A being torn between good and evil, that eventually pays or disappears. Every vampire movie teaches: you don't want to mess with the immortals.

Little note: I haven't read the book. Perhaps I should.