The Beauty of the Shadow

The Beauty of the Shadow + the Palimpsest Exhibition

Shadows are evidence of light. Shadows are normal, casual, they arise with the light, and with our environment, as an interaction, a dialogue, with us and what surrounds us. Shadows are also things unknown, stories untold, histories hidden. Shadows are also spaces unlit, repressed, neglected, behind, beyond, denied and spaces of knowledge untapped: ontologies of darker places, inscribed or embodied: shadows sometimes like what’s below the tip of the iceberg, or shadows like palimpsests!

It’s surprising to me why the shadow gets such a negative press: its outlines look so beautiful! Psychologist C.G. Jung famously thought of one’s shadow – the shadow aspect of one’s personality – as negative. And I am kind of upset about this idea, because the shadow is part of our unconscious, but why must that be negative? I am intrigued about my unconscious, so I treasure it. It’s an inner land I love exploring.

Innerland: it’s an inner land, an intriguing inner land, and I am inquisitive about it! Innerland: it’s me immediate environment, the depth of my soul, and my further reaches too! It’s the places I journey to, especially in my creative times and in the night, in my dreams. Innerland a Dreamland!

Self-extensions: the shadow is a self-extension, shadows self-extensions, and I think we are richer for it. If we were just made up of what we know we wouldn’t have much depth and far fewer mysteries to discover.

Movements: I’ve just moved house once again and I see an analogy here: as I was packing my stuff into boxes there was a lot to pack which I never use or which I had forgotten about, yet it’s not stuff I want to throw away. It’s nourishing for me when I rediscover what I have and so I fill box upon box like my stuff are my self-extensions! There is some stuff I throw away (not because I dislike it but because it’s too much for practicalities) but most of my stuff is what I want to keep:  like shadows I want to be surrounded by! Without these shadows I would lose too much, like I wouldn’t appreciate things I had once kept and done. I like moving with myself, not without ‘it’/me.

Palimpsest: shadows like a palimpsest, a hidden text, a hidden story, which is discovered by scraping the surface: later this month I will be part of an exhibition called ‘Palimpsest –

Bringing Hidden Stories to Light’ – taking place in Bad Oeynhausen in Germany (in the north eastern end of Northrhine Westphalia if you look on the map), organised by Katja Rosenberg and the Artcatcher team – here is the link: So this is part of my contribution to this theme and this exhibition: how a shadow has a palimpsest-like quality, and how these shadows inhabit stories and in turn how their discovery is exciting! Discovering these overshadowed stories can be risky too, but it’s always a risk worth taking. The risk comes in because an uncovering of something hidden can change the shape of things, the forms

and the structures we are used to. But the risk is liberation: it urges us to appreciate the knowledge of neglected spaces: Africa, Women, The Other! Enquiring into the shadows is like a Pedagogy of the Oppressed (a la Paulo Freire): it’s a transformative experience! Have

a look at my pieces there and see my exploration of this thrilling theme; and everyone else’s piece of art too. And everything around too! Everything matters! – most of all the shadows of which we don’t know as much as the as the light.



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