Iris [A Fragment] focuses on Swedish therapist and writer Iris Johansson. Johansson was non-verbal until she learned to speak at the age of 12, but as she says, ‘I will always be autistic’ and part of her will always be non-verbal. In her pre-verbal years for much of the time Johansson was in a mind-out-of-body space she calls the ‘Real reality’ or ‘Out’. Her father and later she too worked hard to connect her with the ‘ordinary reality’. At the age of around twelve she started to train herself to behave in conventional ways, by studying people around her and actors on the cinema screen, practicing their expressions and gestures for hours in front of her mirror at home. This training was not so much a limit on her way of being, as a route to making possible the social contact she longed for, by taking away the ‘fear mechanisms’ she provoked with her strange behaviour and appearance. Iris [a fragment] comes out of Imogen Stidworthy’s long-term research into voicing ‘on the borders of language’; into how relationship and sense-making are affected, perhaps even changed, in the ‘rub-up’ with different forms of voicing and modes of being. In her research Iris Johansson figures as a go between between verbal and non-verbal being. This work was filmed in Dahab, South Sinai (Egypt) where Johansson lives and works for several months each year, and her home in Fagersta (Sweden). The two-screen installation focuses on a formative moment when, at the age of 10, Johansson’s father confronted her with her own reflection in the mirror.
Shaden Mohamed Nagy
Ramy Nagy Elafify
Camera: Emma Dalesman / Imogen Stidworthy