Interestingly, as I started this post, I saw on the Guardian website that Dorothy’s dress from the Wizard of Oz is up for auction, going for a cool £300K+.
An ongoing video piece I’m working on uses the Wizard of Oz’s heroine, Dorothy. I’ve created looping video clips of Dorothy as she goes through the gamut of emotions within the heightened dream/fantasy setting of Oz. The clips have been edited to refer to each other, that is, sometimes Dorothy asks questions aloud and another clip of Dorothy answers.
Looking at Oz in this way, is there really a lion, a scarecrow, a tin man? Is there actually anyone in Oz except Dorothy? All the clips are from the Oz side of the rainbow .. But what if Oz is the reality and Kansas is the dream?
The video clips are zoomed in on Dorothy’s face, sometimes showing only Dorothy’s expressions or her crying with bodiless hands patting her shoulder in sympathy. The work takes her out of a linear narrative and although the plot continues to revolve around Dorothy, it seeks to have a non-sensical kind of delirium to it. There is a continuum in the looped format of this work, Dorothy seems quite trapped in a fish bowl, quite trapped in her ‘Oz’.
There are several options for presentation. My ideal is 6 monitors in a circle, facing into the circle and each other, making them part of a group conversation, almost like a therapy group. There needs to be acknowledgement between the clips for the piece to work .. its an internal Dorothy dialogue, her mental narrative spaces meeting collectively. But there is the bedside tv screens at Forth Valley – very exciting platform for showing work. How to edit as a looped single screen piece?
Why work with Wizard of Oz? I want to use material, characters, texts that have been absorbed into culture (whether North American and/or British and in this case much wider). Wizard of Oz has become apart of a collective memory. Its a story rich in cultural reference for story telling with Dorothy a beacon of youthful innocence, self-resourcefulness and illumination. Something so embedded and assumed known (I suspect there are many people who think they’ve seen the movie but haven’t as they know the story so well) is perfect material for putting into a different context and upsetting a balance. It is within this discomfort that gives opportunity to question what we think we see and know.