As part of Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 4, artist Heather Agyepong has compiled a reading list that shares some of the texts, films, and music that have informed her research throughout the production of ego death.
Through these references, Heather expands on her interest in film, psychoanalysis, and faith. Of note is the role that travel, exile or seclusion plays in many of these works; the various protagonists of The Matrix, Pinocchio, or Dark Night of the Soul each embark upon a journey to reach their ‘deliverance’.
ego death is a project inspired by psychiatrist Carl Jung’s concept of ‘The Shadow’, aspects of one’s personality deemed inappropriate. Heather has recently been working to discover and explore her own shadow, confronting and making peace with it through this body of work.
Below, Heather writes about the influence and personal significance of Barry Jenkins’ 2016 film Moonlight:
“It started with that three-face split. The split image of the three versions of the main character in moonlight.
I remember just staring at it. It was captivating but I couldn’t tell you why, I just knew this was part of something for me. I first watched it with a live orchestra at the barbican centre. Why were there tears flowing 40 seconds in?
The main character began to unravel in front of our eyes, the unravelling that I never could do. The truth was pouring out of him and it was overwhelming. All confronting, all present, we were all silent; he took the breath from us, Barry Jenkins took our breath. Who would I be if I told the truth?
I remember going to this church gathering and someone asked ‘oh who are you’ I said, ‘I don’t think I know’…to a stranger. I cried, she said she’d pray for me, but I never heard from her again. I am trying now, as in right now, to understand who I am. Without the smiles, the nods, the silence, the trappings of that voice and the acceptance of it all. The discovery is a practice. I do feel lighter, glistening in the moonlight I like to think.”
The Holy Bible.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brené Brown, 2010.
The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage, Brené Brown, 2013.
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to a Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron, 1992.
All About Love, Bell Hooks, 1999.
The Undiscovered Self, Carl Jung, 1958.
Dark Night of the Soul: St. John of the Cross, 1578.
Meeting The Shadow, The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature. Connie Zweig, (ed), Jeramiah Abrams, (ed), 1990.
Romancing the Shadow: A Guide to Soul Work for a Vital, Authentic Life, Connie Zweig, 1996.
I May Destroy You, created by Michaela Coel, BBC One, 2020.
Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly, 2001.
Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele, 2017.
The Mask, directed by Chuck Russell, 1996.
Pinocchio, directed by Ben Sharpsteen. & Hamilton Luske, 1940.
WandaVision, created by Jac Schaeffer, Disney+. 15 January 2021.
The Matrix, directed by Lana Wachowski & Lilly Wachowski, 1999.
Favourite Worst Nightmare, Arctic Monkeys, 2007.
Don’t Miss It from Assume Form, James Blake, 2019
It’s Gonna Rain, Milton Brunson and The Thompson Community Singers, 1982.
Mr.Morale & The Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar, 2022.
Kiwanuka, Michael Kiwanuka, 2019.
A Light For Attracting Attention, The Smile, 2022.
Svefn-g-englar from Ágætis byrjun, Sigur Ros, 1999.
A Coruña, Galicia: Spain
Brighton Beach, Brighton: UK
Vancouver, British Columbia: Canada
Yr Wyddgrug/Mold, Flinshire: Wales