Which Witch?: A Memorial, Series of 1001 Photogrphs, 2014
The photo series Which Witch? A Memorial, consists of 1001 found images of witches. These images are homage to 1001 executed individuals – a fraction of the estimated 100,000 witches tortured and put to death during the European witch craze from 1550-1750. 90% of the images are female witches and 10% are male, reflecting a historically accurate estimate of the ratio of female-male witch executions. The images depict fictional witch-characters of contemporary culture yet simultaneously reflect real individuals tortured and murdered on the premise of a constructed attribution – that of being a witch.
The continued relevance of this historical topic is manifold. Persecution in the form of repression, exclusion, torture, and execution, premised solely in intolerance of difference, be that physical, behavioral, or spiritual, is still prevalent. As Joseph Klaits poignantly states in Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunts, “Plainly, we are not dealing with obsolete issues when we consider such problems as the roots of intolerance, manifestations of prejudice against women and minorities, the use of torture by authoritarian rulers, and attempts by religious and political ideologues to impose their values on society”. The witch is a scapegoat blamed for random misfortunes, but more so persecuted for social position, difference, and otherness – emphasizing the continued importance as an issue of contemplation today.
Which Witch? is an exhibition of photo and video work (including How to Identify a Witch & How to Deal with a Witch) which traces the figure of the witch through historical constructions, actual persecutions, and the transformations of this character into contemporary representation.
2014 Which Witch? SOVA Gallery, Dawson City, Yukon
Nicole Rayburn 2015