This body of work takes its name from the title of a video work, the latest in Russell’s ongoing Covers series. In this video she embodies the voice of Ingmar Bergman as he discusses the events that inspired him to write his 1966 film Persona. Ruminating on themes of personal identity, existence, life after death and the foibles of aspiring to some state of perfection, Russell both sincerely expresses the happiness Bergman feels as he describes an anesthetic-induced feeling of nonexistence, and humorously shares his stuttering frustration at being unable to think of the word he’s looking for in English. Russell’s work often plays with the permeability of identity as well as questions of reality vs. illusion, and this is no exception. She stands before a photographic backdrop of a perfect flowering tree, while the fluttering patterns of dappled sunlight pass through real trees to play across the frame.
Also in the exhibition are paintings and drawings, some on vintage postcards, that expand on themes from both the Bergman interview and Persona. Abstraction and landscape commingle in these delicate, layered pieces. Mandala-like circles hover above the ocean, or mountainous lumps, bulges of bright color ooze from the edges of pure and meditative forms, shapes are doubled, repeated, reflected, moving from foreground to background to foreground again. A small drawing in walnut ink depicts a vaguely ominous boulder decrying “Oui Oui” to a protesting pile of petals that dissipate around the words “Non Non.” A comic take on the revolving door of unity and dissolution.