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Drawings produced while channeling Picasso at La Pagode, Paris, 2011
The Spirit World has interested me for many years and this has become part of my work, extending the research carried out by Victor Hugo in 1850's with his turning table method of contacting the spirits. In "Spook-a-rama" I confronted my own fears, Dr. Safwat the famous Medium channeled the spirit of Holbein the Younger through me using the "Holbein Table" specially designed and made for the purpose....
I have been fascinated by the spirit world since I was a child. To be more precise fascinated and terrified at the same time. In 2008 I read the notes of Victor Hugo (“Conversations with Eternity”) that he wrote while conducting a series of séances over a two-year period from 1853-1855 on the island of Guernsey. Using a turning table technique he spoke with spirits of humans, famous and not famous and even with spirits from other planets. They produced drawings and poems for the fascinated novelist. This convinced me I wanted to try it myself and confront my childhood fears and try and contact the dead.
My first séance-performance took place in New York on October 30th 2008 at my exhibition, “Spook-a-rama”. I worked with a famous Egyptian Medium, Dr Safwat who lives in New York. Mediums can connect to the spirit world through a “Spirit Guide”. Spirit Guides are dead spirits who only “talk” to one Medium and help to introduce the Medium to any spirit he or she chooses. Dr. Safwat has three Spirit Guides. The only one I was introduced to was “Dr. Abdullah”. I had decided I would like to contact and channel the spirit of “Holbein the Younger”.
Therefore I designed and had made a special table specifically for the purpose. This table is made out of marquetry and has the image of the strange but beautiful anamorphic skull from the painting “The Ambassadors” by Holbein himself. This table was to be my portal to the spirit world.
Holbein Table, Wooden Marquetry, 2008
Dr. Safwat spent two days working with me and letting me use his own guide, Dr. Abdullah. He taught me how to allow spirits to enter my body and to make drawings. During this process the Medium never actually loses himself, but has to be open and relaxed in order to let the spirit in. The drawings I produced I found fascinating. I could see a connection to the experiments made by the Dadaists with their automatic drawing and writing.
In my exhibition “Black Ghosts” 2010 I decided to extend this practise and try and channel Picasso. The Drawings produced by “Picasso” were equally as fascinating and bring together ideas of authorship and authenticity. A big question that arises is whether the drawings are “real “ Picassos or not.
In December 2010 I was invited to my make a Picasso channelling at the museum exhibition of Pablo Picasso Zwischen Arena und Arkadien, Städtisches Museum, Albstadt Germany. This performance took place in front of 500 people at the opening event. Following a report in the local newspaper, the Catholic Church contacted the museum to question whether I was an authentic medium. They clearly felt some competition. The museum declined to comment. I have consequently made performances in Paris at La Pagode. For future performances I am planning to channel William Blake.