"Love Letters is a moving image work with a sculptural element, or, a filmic documentation of a sculpture in movement. The film captures a hand-made kite dancing across a cloudy, overcast sky to the strains of the song ‘Love Letters’ by Ketty Lester, performed on the harp by Clara Chon. The kite dances in and out of the frame, and the camera tries to follow, but can never quite get a hold on it, leaving the kite alluringly always just out of reach.
The kite is made from offcuts of sailcloth from the sailmakers that used to be down the road; the kite design taken from my father’s copy of Lloyd, Mitchell & Thomas’ Making and Flying Kites (1975). The sheet music to the song was borrowed from the Auckland Public Library, the kite was flown (it’s maiden voyage) in Auckland Domain.
The kite acts as a persona, a sculptural portrait; the design was lifted from two surrealist masks made by Man Ray as props for dinner parties or charades in the homes of Los Angeles’ elite. Man Ray has transformed the lips and eyes into leaves, tendrils of some lithe, climbing plant. There is a photograph of two elegant women wearing them that I discovered in a wild, conspiracy theory—like book exploring the relationship between surrealism and crime, a book claiming that a doctor friend of Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp had committed the so-called ‘Black Dahlia’ murder, and was “inspired” by the surrealist artists’ works. It was a far-fetched, fantastical supposition; a fiction constructed through artworks.
This mask captured a sense of loneliness, invisibility and detachment, an immovable, taut and expressionless shell.This sensibility is counterbalanced with the kite’s seemingly physical desire to escape, a promise of an untethering.
The video was played on a monitor in the foyer of what was then the entrance to Elam’s Fine Arts Library, the kite and its tail lay strewn across the floor, inanimate, as if dropped or plucked from the sky, or splayed on the floor like a corpse. Love Letters became a starting point in a series of portraiture works that reimagine historical works of art from a speculative feminine perspective.
Original photo documentation, of the kite and monitor in situ outside the Elam Fine Arts Library, has been lost." - Florence Wild