December 2022
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Jane and Louise Wilson are represented at the Liverpool Biennial by a video installation entitled Normapaths. The work consists of a double projection displayed with one of the sets used in the original film. It is installed in a building that is not dissimilar to the brewery in which their spatial and psychological scenarios were originally conceived. The Wilsons’ visions of this fictional setting are sometimes congruent, at other times slightly divergent. The effect of the latter is of simulated double vision: not two separate views, but rather a sense of two eyes temporarily out of alignment as a result of intoxication. This doubling is structurally reinforced by the inclusion of the set within the space as an index of its production. The different levels and eerie volumes of the brewery become a dreamscape. A duet performed on a trampoline is slowed down to evoke dreamy images of flight, then re-enters real time at the peak of the twins’ ascent. The figures finally drift slowly back down as if exhausted from their explosive climax. The atmosphere of the sequence is reminiscent of 1960s TV series like The Avengers or The Prisoner, both of which had strong elements of parody. Indeed the choreographed bouncing has a further resonance with The Prisoner’s famous bouncing ball, which routinely retrieved Patrick McGoohan on the verge of escape from his Kafkaesque prison. The set included in the installation reproduces a rather tacky domestic room that was partly destroyed when the women crashed through the walls during the making of the film. ‘Normal’ women do not, as we all know, leap through walls or engage in aerial fights. Nor do they walk through fire, or draw glowing orbs from their mouths. We have labels for this kind of aberrant behaviour, such as ‘hysterical’ or ‘pathological’. The Normapaths subvert this language of femininity and the assumptions that lie behind it.


24 September – 07 November 1999