Graduated from Wimbledon College of Art
Selected by Ambrosine Allen
The Delirium of Joy, 2008
'The Delirium of Joy' is an installation work, constructed out of domestic and urban materials. On the wall, as a picturesque backdrop to the projected video component, hangs an idyllic print of an ocean view. Seabirds appear flying at different durations hypnotically in and out of the frame.
This work and others are situated in both the materiality of sculpture and the illusionary qualities of time based media. To suggest a movement and interplay between our constructed physical world and less tangible realities.
The composition, lighting and tone of the work are references to the iconic painting 'The Raft of The Medusa' (1819) by Théodore Géricault, as is the contradiction of the paintings romantic style with the reality of its subject matter. The title, taken from the words of one of The Medusa's few surviving crew members recounts the moment they saw their presumed rescue ship Argus pass by on the horizon, 'From the delirium of joy we fell into profound despondency and grief'.
Jera May's MA show piece, 'The Delirium of Joy' was located in a smaller room just off to the side of a larger auditoria and as I stepped out of the bright whiteness of this previous space, I felt I'd side-stepped into a different moment altogether. A subtle shift in light and the careful arrangement of objects lead to an immediate and total change in atmosphere. A large sculpture fills most of the space, a raft constructed from and loaded with city remnants - timber, doors, and furniture. Just behind, hanging on the wall is a seascape and projected onto this is a film of sea birds in flight. There is the effective impression of certain weather conditions and a definite slowing down of time as temporalities become confused. Lighting is darkened and the tones and colours in their combinations reflect something historic despite their modern origins. The room is filled with subtle whites and greens, a range of woods and yellow hues and of course, eventually you begin to realise that you're in a painting...
The reference here is to Théodore Géricault's 'The Raft of Medusa' (1819), a depiction of a ruined French frigate and it's despairing crew. This painting is an icon of French romanticism and yet, as May presents so clearly in 'The Delirium of Joy', the romantic becomes a place where one finds beauty in the dark side of the psyche - angst and melancholy, as well as in the sublime. The sea and its associations are the perfect optimum for this - an ungovernable force, at once awe-inspiring in its beauty and yet turbulent and destructive.
I felt what May had created was a kind of ghostly archive, where real landscapes are layered with inner more metaphorical landscapes and connections are formed between past and present, fact and fiction. I left thoughtful about the idea of 'sculptural film', impressed by both the physical power of the installation and the romantic illusions of the projected media, seduced by how you can get lost somewhere in-between.
(Ambrosine Allen, 2008)
Qualifications and training
- 2008 MA Fine Art: Sculpture, Distinction, Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London
- 2008 Post Graduate Certificate in Education, University of Westminster
- 1992 BA (Hons) Visual Art, First class, Wolverhampton University
Web links - gallery/work/projects