A solo show at CANAL, Haggerston

Mothra vs Godzilla

Mothra vs Godzilla from Alex Pearl on Vimeo.


My father is a collector, my mother is constantly clearing things away. Recently my mother is gaining the upper hand. They have begun to discard more and more things so as not to be a burden to my brother and I when they die. My grandfather's film reels and father's baby reins are just two of the objects I have saved from the bin. Seeing my dad when he was younger than I am now, was a strange experience for me, akin to the paradoxes of time travel. The images of him in a different era also made me aware of my vulnerability.  

Somewhere in the French Alps, a man was lost skiing twenty or twenty-five years ago, swallowed up by an avalanche, and his body was never recovered. His son, who was a little boy at the time, grew up and also became a skier. One day in the past year he went skiing, not far from the spot where his father was lost - although he did not know this. Through the minute and persistent displacements of the ice over the decades since his father's death, the terrain was now completely different from what it had been. All alone there in the mountains, miles away from any other human being, the son chanced upon a body in the ice - a dead body, perfectly intact, as though preserved in suspended animation. Needless to say, the young man stopped to examine it, and as he bent down and looked at the face of the corpse, he had the distinct and terrifying impression that he was looking at himself. Trembling with fear, he inspected the body more closely, all sealed away as it was in the ice, like someone on the other side of a thick window, and saw that it was his father. The dead man was still young, even younger than the son was now, and there was something awesome about it, something so odd and terrible about being older than your father.

Paul Auster, Ghosts (p.179)

I remember reading, or being told, that as we stare into space we are looking into the past, that the light reaching us is centuries old. I had something of this feeling when reviewing my grandfather's footage. I also recalled images from Star Trek in which the Enterprise would encounter Earth's past through a viewscreen. I am almost certain that this happened on more than one occasion.

I decided to project the images from my father's past onto polystyrene spheres creating new planets or perhaps images reminiscent of the opening scenes of Flash Gordon in which Ming the Merciless targets earth for eventual destruction. Or perhaps I was remembering the camera obscura from A Matter of Life and Death, 1946. Both these images and the many more circular viewscreens of  science fiction create a feeling of separation from their imagery.

The past is another planet. They do things differently there. 

The title of the show Mothra vs. Godzilla speaks of a futile conflict between ridiculous forces and references a Japanese monster movie released in 1964. It is a title that is open about the film's content. There is a fight between a big female moth and an equally large male lizard, the lizard will win. A feature of these films is that while the monsters fight, humanity has to just hang on until it is all over. I have always been interested in this idea as a way to survive the human condition. Perhaps this explains my recent fascination for tightrope walkers. 

In addition from the jetsam of my parents's life the show is also gleaned from abandoned objects rescued from a neighbouring derelict house. Its owner, recently deceased, left a lifetime of objects the significance of which is unknown.