Video Animation on Embroidered Tapestry, 2013

The video installation entitled Can you feel the love tonight?  explores matter, energy, mind and spirit and their interplay immersed in the experience of the ephemeral. It takes a poignant look at the body as a vessel, and how disease can slowly decay the tangible and in turn release the intangible. The video brings together a series of long- term emotional and physical fragments experienced by the artist and her ailing mother.

The moment in the video that represents her mother’s last breath, the figure breaks down into molecular bits becoming one with the atmosphere, nature’s way of giving back life to earth. The figure however slowly regenerates representing the infinite nature of energy. It also explores the concept that when something dies, it gives new life to another. This is something that has been at the forefront of the artist’s mind especially since she gave birth to a daughter one year ago. 

The video animation projects onto a tapestry with an embroidered vessel on it. Oremus often uses embroidery in her work as her mother was fond of the craft, and embroidered things for the artist throughout her lifetime. The representation of the vessel highlights not only her mother’s immigration by ship to Canada from Germany, but also acts as a metaphor for her current journey into another plane of existence. The fabric creates a symbolic border between our world and the afterlife. The imposing shadow that is cast on the back wall represents her mother as the spiritual traveller, leaving her physical body into an astral one, traveling toward more significant realms.

It was the artist’s intention to abstract the statement: and there once was– through the use of fragmented Arabic text. She uses the Arabic alphabet, but in a deconstructed manner, and in a manner thus reflecting the English language so that its interpretation would be virtually intelligible for a native Arabic speaker. This action conveys the idea of finding value in something that is difficult or impossible to completely understand. Living in the UAE for 11 years, the artist recognizes the beauty of Arabic texts, while not comprehending what they mean. The artist draws parallels with her mothers’ loss of writing and language skills and the Arabic text, as she herself finds value in the beauty of the text as an object (signifier), but cannot fully understand what it means (signified), similar to the letters she received from her mother and the conversations she had with her during her illness.