My Mum (V2-Sensitive)

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video & sound
duration: 6 min

My Mum (V2-Sensitive), Beaconsfield, London, 2011
Jury Selection, 13 Video Art Festival, Stockholm, 2013
Stations of the Cross, St Stephen Walbrook, London, 2017
Stations 2020, Arts Chaplaincy Projects, 2020

Laura Moffatt, ‘Stations of the Cross and Resurrection’, Art & Christianity, No 90, Summer 2017
Muriel Zagha, ‘From Psycho to Transcendence’, Elephant, 2017
Stations of the Cross | Stations of the Resurrection, Stations 2017, catalogue, ISBN 978-1-5272-0874-2s 

included in the series Stations of the Cross

© acknowledgements:
The Birds (1963) 
Berlin (Lou Reed) 
Memory Of A Free Festival (David Bowie) 
Sensitive (The Field Mice) 

Commentary by Lucy Newman Cleeve for Stations 2020

The Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother

The image is an extract from The Birds (1963), depicting Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) visiting Bodega Bay to warn the school they may be in danger. The treatment of the figure, including the amplification of small gestures, is similar to the earlier Stations — a device perhaps mimicking and subverting Hitchock’s own voyeuristic framing and filming of women. Dean has replaced all of the footage of the birds with cut-away shots of a black screen, indicating that the menace here is not the birds. 

The soundtrack combines ‘Berlin’ by Lou Reed (1976) with the introduction to ‘Memory of a Free Festival’ by David Bowie (1969) mixed with ‘Sensitive’ by the Field Mice (1989). The Field Mice lyrics, “We all need to feel safe, then that’s taken away, sometimes I want to return”, suggest a child’s yearning to return to the safety of its mother’s arms. Later in the track they sing, “You do risk being crucified, crucified by those you are unlike,” in this context clearly intended as a reference to Jesus’ death. The layering of the different musical tracks produces a discordant affect of heightened tension and foreboding. This is reinforced by Hitchcock’s (or is it Dean’s?) editing: after each cut away shot, the camera moves in closer to Hedren’s face, augmenting her rising panic. 

My Mum (V2-Sensitive) had a life before Stations of the Cross, and precedes many of the other works, making us question its inclusion here. Is Dean commenting on his own relationship to his late mother? Is there something in what we know of Hedren’s off-screen treatment and alleged abuse by Hitchcock that is significant? Writing in Artforum, Rachel Withers comments on Dean’s appropriation of an image of Tippi Hedren in an earlier work, observing that she “becomes a surrogate for the artist in a nuanced and moving moment of crossgender identification.” This particular work may invite us to imagine ourselves in the role of Jesus and of Mary, in the child separated from its mother, and in the mother fearful for the loss of her child. In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, such fears and separations are commonplace, as is the yearning to return to a time before it all began.