Possession and the séance experience, therefore, bore witness not to the emergence of particular sexual drives or needs as in the binary model of sexual difference, but rather to the discourse of the polymorphous, paradoxical, deviant, erratic, eccentric, even scandalous nature of desire—and its enactment. The materialisation séance, like a theatrical or fantasized scene, established the conventions which made possible the staging of desire. -Alex Owen, The Darkened Room
Psychical Research, features a series of collage drawings and a video inspired by narratives of Victorian mediumship and the book Phenomena of Materialisation. The text documents scientific observations of séances between 1909 and 1914 featuring the medium Eva C., and includes reports of sittings, maps of the séance room, and detailed accounts of the medium’s gestures, vocalizations, and materializations. Like women stricken with hysteria, the mediums of the early 20th century fell into trances and displayed a wide variety of erratic behavoir from bodily contortions, spontaneous vocalization, automatic writing, the channeling of sprits, and materialisation of ectoplasmic forms. The mediums’ altered states often revealed moments of desire that broke from the conventions of proper feminie conduct.
Rehm looks to the liminal space of the trance state as a rich site for the creation and vocalization of potent female narratives. She blends fragmented found images of the body and nature to reflect on the expansiveness of female experience, spirtulaity, and desire. In her new video Double Thread two young women engage in an imaginedpreparation for a séance. The women enact quiet rituals and gestures as they interact with mysterious materials that mimic the white gauzy substance know as ectoplasm. The looping video speaks to the intimate bonds between women and to the ceasless generative potential of their performing bodies.
Psychical Research drawings, collage & video Elephant 2015