Nancy Andrews has been making intuitive, idiosyncratic, hybrid films for many years, rendered with her characteristic humor and inhabited by imaginative characters who are at times visionary but always social misfits. Her two new films, “On a Phantom Limb” and “Behind the Eyes are the Ears”, continue in this tradition, but here the artist focuses on the self and her own states of consciousness. A critical illness in 2005 plunged her deeper into an exploration of the unknown, the invisible, the what-lies-beyond. On a Phantom Limb depicts the experience of emergency, intense hallucinations and delirium, near-death, and life temporarily holding sway over death. The shock of such extensive physical and emotional trauma is long-lasting, but the latent humor is just as tenacious. “Behind the Eyes are the Ears” takes the exploration of consciousness even further. Hovering between reality and fantasy, control and chaos, the film investigates the possibility of expanded sensory awareness by exhibiting humans transmogrified by animal attributes and parts. Reality, Andrews thinks, is less stable than we like to believe. Not only is it incredibly subjective—we might agree on certain things but we probably see most things differently, through our own lens of experience and sensory focuses, but also after hallucinating and believing those hallucinations to be true, Nancy Andrews realizes there is almost no way to prove the reality of any moment … how do we know that we are not dreaming? Or in a hallucination right now? The evening will include a discussion with the artist and Dr. Michael Belkin of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dr. Sharon Inouye of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
On a Phantom Limb, 2009, video, 35m
Behind the Eyes are the Ears, 2010, video, 26m