Kaari Upson’s ‘Night Splitter’ belongs to a group of works that focus on the artist’s childhood home in San Bernardino – a dilapidated suburb east of Los Angeles – and on the old tree that provided shade to the family grounds. In an almost exorcistic performance, Upson appears as both herself and her own doppelgänger in a grotesque disguise created with face paint and wigs. At the same time, the ominous doubling finds its expression in a raving, trance-inducing monologue, where the repetitions form mantra-like patterns. Day and night seem to be taking place simultaneously, as we watch the tree from her childhood being felled and cut apart, and while Upson (and her double) wander restlessly around the urban landscapes of California. A haunting work with an almost occult power, where the self is reduced to a medium for obsessions and anxious fantasies.
Original title Night Splitter