Caroline Mackintosh’s pop-up multidisciplinary exhibition, In the Murmur, curated by Candice Ježek opened this past Friday at the Woodstock Exchange. Last year she was featured in our Young South Africa series as an emerging artist whose enigmatic photography constantly flits between nostalgic yearning and sensual cheekiness. More recently, we spoke to her when she’d just returned to Cape Town for season after travelling and shooting around Europe and the States.
In the Murmur is a sensory experience that emulates the feeling of being submerged; a sense of floating, of hearing globule underwater sounds and the moments before returning to the surface to take a breath. The nude figures conjure imagery of sacred water nymphs with dispositions towards blissful purity and unselfconscious freedom while the accompanying soundscape takes one on an emotive aural journey.
How long has your body of work In The Murmur been in the making?
I started shooting the In The Murmur about four summers ago, so approximately three years. Each time we went out to the river the series evolved and progressed into something more. This has been a beautiful journey, and the last components only came together this year – those being the film and sound elements of my show.
Did the project begin because of a conscious decision on your part, or did it grow more organically than that?
It began with a conscious decision to make trips up the mountains to shoot underwater but over the years of shooting and through my own growth, the series took on a whole other meaning – developing organically, as I did. After time I also started to notice how the trips to this magical place affected the girls who took part in the series. Many would contact me afterwards saying they felt such a release and a new sense of freedom within themselves, the key word being “renewal”.
Have you always been interested in the human form? And what influenced your decision to capture these photographs underwater?
I have become so interested in how, once we are submerged in water, there is this juxtaposition between silence and sound. How everything becomes muffled and silence envelopes you, yet as the same time our senses become heightened, your thoughts are so much clearer and what you normally wouldn’t hear is now isolated and travels further.
You’ve said that the work transports you into a suspended reality. How so?
I feel in life we are continuously searching, seeking within ourselves and sometimes a moment shines through, when we let go and turn ourselves over to mystery. These “other worldly” moments are not always recognizable, but our hearts understand because after we experience them we are changed and renewed. I refer to these critical transitional instances as MURMURS. I wanted to create a place that hosts these feelings, an alternative reality that transports you, liberates you and alters the reality you once knew. In the Murmur is this magical world, suspended in time, water and motion and allows the viewer to “let go”, to feel as though they’re submerged in wonder.
What has been the most rewarding part of this journey?
This has been such a rewarding journey right from the start. But if I have to choose moments that stood out from the rest I would say working on the film for In The Murmur and the accompanying sound with Mark Davis. These were the most recent parts of the project and both were new ventures for me. I really feel the film embodies what the show is all about. Working alongside my best friend and curator Candice Jezek has also been a high point. This is something we have always chatted about doing and it’s finally taken shape, I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished together.
“I invite you into an enchanting place of stillness in motion,
an ephemeral world of a faint beat, an experience that moves you, guides you, renewing your sense of wonder…
Sometimes in our lives, a moment shines through which enables us to let go and turn ourselves over to mystery.
Not always recognizable, these bursts of enlightenment open our hearts to the possibility of change and renewal.
I refer to these transitional instances as Murmurs.
A Murmur is an unusual sound, a faint vibration, a suspended reality, a fleeting moment of wonder.
And then it’s gone.
It’s the flowing stream.
The unusual swooshing sound our hearts make.
It’s the rhythm and the spaces between this distinctive beat.
in the Murmur mysteriously transports you, liberates you and alters the reality you once knew.
It’s a magical submerged world that invites you to transcend the boundaries of your existence.
in the Murmur envelopes you, this wondrous place of silence and sound
Immersed in water we are weightless, transformed and freely in motion.
We feel the universe living within us as a flowing stream.
The rhythmic beat
moves you, guides you.”
In The Murmur is showing at the Woodstock Exchange until 31 October.