Naomi Cook


CAAF Residency st[art]@art central, July РAugust 2012




“Once upon a time, there was a witch who believed that a mysterious, frightening shadow lurked in the forest. One day she saw a girl who was fair and innocent. The witch decided to trick the girl into going into the forest to find out what was there. She cast a spell on the skin of a donkey and draped it across the girl’s head, instantly putting her to sleep. The girl wandered for one hundred days and one hundred nights. Mysteries were revealed to her, but being asleep she was unaware. The forest was full of all kinds of spirits who followed the girl out of the forest to the world beyond. As the girl stepped out of the forest, the donkey skin caught on a branch and fell off, setting her free. Confronted with the awakened girl, all the spirits of the forest were frightened as they soon realized they were lost, for they had never been outside of the forest before. To calm the spirits of the forest, she promised to lead them home back where they came from. Which she did. The End.”

If you are in any way familiar with the original french fairy tale Donkey Skin, you will quickly realize this is not the how the story goes. This version is an idiocentric interruption developed through a project that questions the role of narrative and folklore in our psyche. This project explored a version of “madness” or the psychological paradox of doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Initially this project involved constructing a version of the Donkey Skin from a personal memory of it that rejected the original.

In fact, the version remembered varies greatly from the original French version which is disturbing, containing dark elements to teach children about taboos. It is especially unsettling viewed in terms of the Freudian Oedipus triangle (mother-father-child). This new version of the fairy tale entitled Sleep Walker, proposes an interpretation closer to that of self discovery and the danger of losing one’s agency, a modern taboo the past was not equipped to address.

The two large-scale drawings at Art Central form a visual essay on these conflicting versions by illustrating the very different environments they come from. Done with a wash of colour and dark black silhouettes, each addresses ways to confront the psychological paradox of expecting different results from the same behaviour. Child psychologist Dan P. McAdams has explored how young children create a narrative that follows them throughout their life. By addressing the relevance of allegory with an artistic approach, my projection is that through a personal interpretation of the subconscious fixation, one can uncover multiple personal endings.