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There Swam Two Gogols

digital video 2014
3 mins 10 secs
edition of 7

There Swam Two Gogols is a 3 minute video work examining our spiritual connection with water. The powerful forces of creation are evoked through the meeting of darkness and light. This elemental connection offers glimpses of line drawings, which we recognise as samples from our own written language and the writings of other cultures and subcultures. Long before humans developed written language, the light from the sun was reflecting off the surface of the Earth’s water. It suggests our stories preceded us.

This video work was filmed at a waterhole in the River Lett, close to the artist’s home in the Vale of Clwydd NSW on the western side of the Blue Mountains. The local Wiradjuri people see this waterhole as a sacred women’s place. It is the head of the east/west flow and a site for women to tell stories. The sound is assembled from recordings of water, animal and bird calls – dingoes, kookaburras, magpies and a blackbird – from the local area.

The title, There Swam Two Gogols, was gleaned from a passage in Richard Pevear’s introduction of the novel Dead Souls by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. In Russia, a gogol is a “drake”. With regard to this “totemic” bird, a legend is cited from northern Russia about the creation of the world:

“Upon the primeval ocean-sea there swam two gogols: one a white gogol, and the other a black gogol. And it was so that in these two gogols there swam the Lord God Almighty and Satan. By God’s command, by the blessing of the Mother of God, Satan breathed up from the bottom of the blue sea a handful of earth…”