Île Aux Serpents

Digital video, duration: 27 min., 52 sec.

Zen Marie:

Île Aux Serpents
is the central work of the Paradise Fallen cycle. It was begun in April 2017 while I was present at the Chimurenga-led RAW Academy at the RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal.

The work is triggered by the landscape around the Dakar peninsula and catalysed by thinking through the Islands of Ngor, Goree and especially Île de la Madeleine (or L’île au Sarpan as it is sometimes also called).

The ocean and the land meet on this coastline in ways that enact a dramatic and tantalising allusion to mythology, narratives, histories and forms that momentarily appear, emerge and recede. The tension in the work is between elemental forms and transitions, of desire, yearning, pain, loss and regret. The voice-over, of an undefined character, narrates the desire and conflict of a series of events that occurred on an island some time in the past The compulsion for return is disturbed by the recognition that a return will lead to the total obliteration of the narrator’s self.

During a residency in January/February 2018, I revisited many of the places I had begun filming in 2017, and also revised and rewrote the script that was the basis for much of this photographic exploration. The result of this is a kind of video meditation or essay, located within an installation form, that attempts to tease out and court an encounter with the terror that lurks beneath the landscape.


For optimal viewing, watch in full-screen mode. 

Download the abstract of Marie’s Paradise Fallen: Islands, Archipelagos and Xenoepistemics, an article published in MIT Press’s journal Leonardo in 2019.