Father, don’t you see I’m burning? (2022)

Moving-image, 05:46.

Father, don’t you see I’m burning? (2022)
Father, don’t you see I’m burning? (2022)
Father, don’t you see I’m burning? Installation view, Barbican Conservatory. Photography by George Torode.

A father had been watching beside his child’s sick-bed for days and nights on end. After the child had died, he went into the next room to lie down, but left the door open so that he could see from his bedroom into the room in which his child’s body was laid out, with tall candles standing round it. An old man had been engaged to keep watch over it, and sat beside the body murmuring prayers. After a few hours’ sleep, the father had a dream that his child was standing beside his bed, caught him by the arm and whispered to him reproachfully: ‘Father, don’t you see I’m burning?’ He woke up, noticed a bright glare of light from the next room, hurried into it and found that the old watchman had dropped off to sleep and that the wrappings and one of the arms of his beloved child’s dead body had been burned by a lighted candle that had fallen on them.” – Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

Father, don’t you see I’m burning? is a moving-image work combining sound, recorded and archival footage exploring the possibility of creating new meaning following destruction. Drawing on the work of artists working in the postwar period, different processes are used to create corporeal textures that erode and distort the formal archival elements. This work is informed by psychoanalysis, a process whereby, through finding new ways to articulate the traumatic past, one creates new possibilities of being in the future.

This work was commissioned by the Barbican, for Age of Many Posts, an exhibition and public programme curated by Abbas Zahedi in tandem with the Barbican Art Gallery’s Postwar Modern exhibition.