You're Gorgeous, You're Mad

Video installation. 2019

Filmed in Cape Charles, Virginia, USA

The presentation of self usually embodies an attempt to create a certain impression, and inevitably involves the concealment of essential parts of ourselves, our traits, thoughts and feelings. This work is an expression of my desire to reveal a more complex and whole image of one’s self-perception.


To examine this theme, I invited a group of international artists to attend a private, "confessional" session, during which they would share what they really think about themselves when no one else is watching, as well as how they assume they are perceived by others.


The sessions were recorded on audio and divided into two parts, one focusing on strengths or virtues, and the other on weaknesses. This division aimed to assist participants to present their authentic self-perceptions, despite the inherent contradictions. Admitting to both these aspects is widely considered to be socially unacceptable, perceived respectively as arrogant or unattractive. During these sessions, the voices of the participants were recorded, and subsequently, they were edited into two short audio compositions.


Several days after the audio recordings were made, participants were invited to observe their images in a two-way mirror in a dark, isolated room. They heard their earlier confessions through a loudspeaker, which transformed their internal, secret thoughts into prominent “public” judgments. As they listened, their reactions, as expressed through their body language, were filmed from the other side of the mirror.


In the final work, I placed the two segments of the video side by side, creating a dialogue between the participants' perceptions of their virtues (on the right side of the video) and their faults (on the left). One of the images is flipped, illustrating the difference between how the participants see themselves and how they appear to another’s eye.


While the two types of revelations are often contradictory and seem to reveal an inner schism, they also depict a certain similarity and proximity, as of two aspects or channels of the same basic current.


The work was created in Cape Charles, Virginia, USA, as part of the artist residency Experimental Film Virginia.

Participants: Alex Forge, Cat Kneip, Chingi Chang Bigelow, Christina Ricucci, Eldar Baruch,

Emmanuel Malette, Erin Romero, JP Stanley, Lucia Moretti, Marsell Chavarria, Nicole Lorah, Sonia Li, Wesley Swing

© 2020 Dafna Tal