PORTFOLIO > Soucouyant

Soucouyant
Audio Installation, carpet made out of curry powder, chilli powder, and flour, orange armchair, side table full of eggshells, headphones
Audio recording by Thembi Soddell and preview photograph by Kelvin Lau
2019
Soucouyant
Audio Installation, carpet made out of curry powder, chilli powder, and flour, orange armchair, side table full of eggshells, headphones
2019
Soucouyant
Audio Installation, carpet made out of curry powder, chilli powder, and flour, orange armchair, side table full of eggshells, headphones
2019
Soucouyant
Audio Installation, carpet made out of curry powder, chilli powder, and flour, orange armchair, side table full of eggshells, headphones
2019
Soucouyant
Audio Installation, carpet made out of curry powder, chilli powder, and flour, orange armchair, side table full of eggshells, headphones
2019
Soucouyant
Audio Installation, carpet made out of curry powder, chilli powder, and flour, orange armchair, side table full of eggshells, headphones
Photograph by Clare Rae
2019

In my audio installation an orange arm chair sits on top of a carpet of flour, chilli powder, and curry powder. Next to the chair is a side table with a pair of headphones resting on top and eggshells hidden within the drawer. Should viewers choose to sit in the chair and put the headphones on, they encounter my voice reciting a compilation personal journal entries. The audio can be heard in the video included in this gallery (Soucouyant).

Poetic allusions to the visceral impacts of trauma on my body, leads me to build generative connections between my artistic practice and the Trinidadian folktale character, the Soucouyant. The Soucouyant is an influential character because of her ability to impact a whole community by draining its life force to sustain her own. Through abject transformations, she is able to assert the agency of her body, once considered inconsequential, now monstrous. The Soucouyant is said to have made a pact with the devil in order to transform her into an eternal being of fire. During the day, she is an unsuspecting crone-like recluse, and by night, she sheds her skin to transform into a glowing orb of light. She then roams around finding cracks in the foundations of people’s homes to enter and drain their blood for sustenance and maintain her immortality. ‘Soucouyant’ draws specifically from the Soucouyant’s ability to garner agency through abject transformations. I build from ideas of abject transformations to consider how trauma negatively impacts not only myself but those in my community when it is suppressed due to personal, cultural, and societal pressures. Through sensorial transformations of a domestic space materialised in this audio installation, even though I am physically absent from the work, my body may still affectively impact those around it. Here, I hope that my work materialises the agency of my voice by conveying my experiences of traumatic impact.

Please note, the audio for this installation contains content relating to my personal experiences of sexual assault and attempted suicide.