The hazy, dreamlike images of Clare Langan’s Metamorphosis show us a wintertime city undergoing transformation. The camera moves from storm-swept landscapes to snow-filled interiors, from sparkling glaciers to expanses of sea. The city seems to be abandoned apart from brief appearances of spectral characters, who may have lived in those houses once but been driven out by the forces of nature in a state of gradual metamorphosis. Now there is only snow falling in the darkness on abandoned stairways. A laid table awaits the diners. A solitary figure sits stiff and silent in front of a television recalling what is now a bygone age. A feeling of panic and chaos grows despite the beauty of the images. Nature has won back its space and human civilization is being buried beneath it.
With Metamorphosis, Clare Langan continues the analysis of the phenomenon of landscape initiated with the trilogy Forty Below (1999), Too Dark for Night (2001) and Glass Hour (2002). The artist obtains the almost pictorial effect of her images by means of hand-painted filters, a device that creates a surreal atmosphere. The views of nature and landscapes are extraordinarily beautiful and somewhat disconcerting at the same time. The relationship between man and the forces of nature is the central theme of Langan’s work. Diametrically opposed to the romantic conception that sees nature as mirroring the human spirit and thus focuses primarily on its harmony with the individual, her films show nature casting off the yoke of mankind and winning back the land taken from it piece to piece. Man appears as no more than a memory, a faint and increasingly faded shadow.
Clare Langan (Dublin, 1967) was awarded the international prize at the 2007 Oberhausen Short Film Festival for Metamorphosis. Her works have been presented in solo shows all over the world at venues such as the Singapore Biennial, the MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo as well as numerous group exhibitions at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, the Miami Art Museum, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne and the Shanghai Gallery of Modern Art among others. Clare Langan lives and works in Dublin.