There is Only One Life
Monika Oechsler’s video work, produced for Werkleitz Biennial, There Is Only One Life (2006), explores our modern lifeworld in the reflection of spiritual and philosophical ideas. The filmic work takes the currently observable reenchantment by religious and mythical concepts as a starting point to illuminate the spiritual search for meaning of the consumer society beyond traditional denominations and doctrines. Comparable to popular psychology, alternative systems of belief also function as methods of self valorization, and are in demand as such.
The artist takes recourse to myths of cabbala teachings, a tradition of belief that has its origins in the writings of Judaism, and which since the beginning of the twentieth century has spread through occult circles, esoteric currents, and New Age movements, becoming popular. At the centre of the artistic work is a pictorial novel, Promethea by Alan Moore. The novel in the form of a science-fiction comic combines a scientifically dominated perspective with the myths of the cabbala.
Promethea, the central female novel figure, is represented in her four various incarnations by four actresses. The textual fragments consist of arrangements of fictional references from the narrative Promethea, texts by the English poet William Blake, and song lyrics from the bands Verve and Radiohead. The figures are set in the mythology of a popular world religion searching for meaning in locations in current London: the business landscape of the Canary Wharf, a tube station in the middle of the city, and the historical Abney Cemetery.
There Is Only One Life opposes various dialogues, monologues, and showplaces in a temporal historical sampling to the female characters (Promethea), who themselves stand for references from antiquity, classicism, and modernity. In the combination of philosophical ideas, spiritual consciousness, poetic world explanation, and fictional figures, the symbiotic connections of the most various influences from mythology, religious culture, and superstitions are visualised, where the wish for enchantment, identity, and transcendence is equally expressed.
Translated from the German original.
(Anke Hoffmann: Glaubenssysteme zwischen Medien, Markt und Menschen)
Monika Oechsler, DE 2006, video installation, 13 min
Courtesy the artist