The April 2022 exhibition hosted in the main hall of the Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, operated by Dido Haas, features the work of Elfi Siemens within a collection she has called Status Menti. It is a richly metaphorical examination of self, as the artist notes:
We all have those dark, sinister places inside our minds: Areas where the sun does NOT shine all the time. And oh, how hard we try to hide them from the world around us!
Status Menti / State Of Mind is an emotional trip through my personal darkness – and who knows, maybe you will find parts of your own inner twilight zone in those images painted with shadows.
– Elfi Siemens
Thus, through the fourteen images presented at Nitroglobus, we are invited to tour elements of Elfi’s Country of the Mind, to use a term coined in fiction by Greg Bear to describe a means of visually exploring a person’s psychology. True, Greg – notably through his novel Queen of Angels (1990) – used a form of virtual reality to allow a character to directly interact with another’s psychology / subconscious, but the fact that we are viewing Elfi’s work through a virtual medium – Second Life – does allow for a foundational link between Bear’s fiction technique and our explorations of the art present here.
More particularly, the subject matter projected through the fourteen images allows us the ability – as Elfi notes – to witness and explore the more shadowed aspects of her psyche, to join her on a journey through her thoughts and fears, reflection and projections.
What is particularly engaging about the fourteen pieces Elfi has presented is the sheer diversity of presentation and symbolism. From monochrome to colour through varying degrees of hue and tone, from the direct portrait through to framed story, in the use of surrealist through to the abstracted, each piece is unique to itself, yet retains strands of identity, self-doubt / self awareness that binds it to the rest, and the idea of exploring one’s subconscious.
Some of the imagery is both powerfully clear and also marvellously layered – just take Madness, Cornered, Who Am I Today? and Decisions as examples; elsewhere it is more nuanced – as with Time (complete with a subtle borrowing from Dali), for example. Then there is the use of motif, notably that of the heart (which also appears within the one 3D piece Elfi has included in the exhibition), and the layering of its use.
Of course, one might question as to had genuine a story of self we are on, by virtue of these fact that, like it or not, these are images that have been consciously constructed and thus subject to the influence of the artist’s mind rather then being pure observations of what lies beneath. However, whether this matters or not is down to the individual witnessing the pieces offered; at the end of the day, the artist set out to offer an insight into her thoughts and moods – so even if the results are influenced by conscious thought, they nevertheless still sit as windows to what lies within.
Thus, Status Menti sits as a valid exploration of self / self-doubt and the darker thoughts that are a necessary part of out psyche. While, for those who wish to appreciate art for its own sake, they also sit as a set of rich images to enjoy, each on its own merit.
- Nitroglobus Roof Gallery (Sunshine Homestead, rated: Moderate)
Published by Inara Pey
Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life, VR, virtual environments and technology. View all posts by Inara Pey