Leigh McCarthy: Doppelganger


The project "doppelganger" developed as a response to the curator, Tricia Lawless Murray, who invited me to contribute photography to a group show titled "eros/thanatos" about the life/death drives.  "Doppelganger" functions both as an ethereal-double and a harbinger -- the self and its shadow – and incorporates a process whereby I double expose film to create ghost-like images.

For the Pharmakon Library, I present unedited contact sheets rather than individual cropped images in order to reveal the photographic process which initiates a game of chance that generates latent discoveries in which a filmic narrative emerges.  Paired with the seascape, this technique allows for the fecund nature of the dialectic to emerge: the self/shadow, love/sickness (madness), death/rebirth, beauty/sublime, and love as remedy/poison and the poison as panacea.  By simultaneously dissolving these oppositions, the meaning constantly shifts creating a permanent state of ambiguity.

The narrative that propels “doppelganger” derived from a dream that my brother had where we climbed to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. In his dream, I was picked up by the wind and floated into marshy seagrass below.  Trapped by image-repertoire, my brother described the dream by referencing a Nestea commercial and an Aerosmith music video to depict my descent – his mind re-edited pop culture images he previously consumed. In my brother’s reformation of this imagery and in turn my remaking and doubling of his dream, meaning and essence become unhinged.  At the very end of the dream, just when he thought I was dead, I said, "that was fun, let's do it again", creating another doubling into an infinite narrative loop.

Leigh McCarthy is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works in San Francisco. She received her MFA from Goldsmiths College in London and has exhibited her work internationally including group projects at the Getty Center, Los Angeles; Torrance Art Museum, Torrance; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London. Special thanks to Jaime Beechum who assisted with photography.