Walking at night, looking at the sky, daughters leaving home, their stuff left behind, these things are brought together in a series of large format silver gelatine photographs that map the northern sky. The mythological tale of Cassiopeia and her daughter Andromeda underpins still-life arrangements of natural and domestic debris suggesting the constellations. Within the factual text on the mount of each image is the suggestion of an emotional subtext. 2000-2002
Up here where I live, on a clear night, the northern circumpolar constellations are always visible. I see a mother and daughter, a whole family: Cassiopeia, the Queen, Cepheus, the King, Andromeda, their daughter, the Chained Princess, Perseus, the Hero, with the star Algol, Arabic for ghoul or demon, representing the head of Medusa, and then, Cetus, the Sea Monster...
Cassiopeia boasts that she and her daughter Andromeda are more beautiful than the sea nymphs. The sea nymphs take offence and send a plague onto their land.
To end the plague, Cassiopeia and her husband Cepheus, the King, are told to sacrifice Andromeda to the sea by chaining her to a cliff. The sea monster Cetus approaches to devour her.
Perseus, the Hero, sees her, falls in love and rescues her from the sea monster by using the head of the Medusa, which turns anything that glimpses it to stone. With him is Pegasus, the winged horse which sprang from the blood of the headless Medusa.
Andromeda’s parents try to prevent her from leaving them. Perseus turns them to stone. And he and Andromeda fly away together on winged Pegasus.
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All images copyright Karen Melvin 2020