The oyster was a preferred symbol of feminine sexuality in 17th century still life and genre painting, serving as a moral comment or as a token of erotic intent, acting at times as a symbol of purity and at others of the impure. Cries and Whispers is a video triptych consisting of three projections of living oysters. The protective shell, which acts as an interface between the creature and its environment, is removed to expose the unprotected and fragile flesh. In the large projections the glimmering oysters reveal the tiniest movements as they expand and contract under the prying eye of the camera. The images are both sensual and beautiful, but they also possess profounder qualities. The work is characterized by a contemplation of aliveness and the associated finiteness, the intertwining processes of life and death, and shows how all living beings fundamentally are the same.
The title of the work is adopted from Ingmar Bergman’s film Cries and Whispers from year 1972. The film focuses on the lives of three sisters and illustrates the consequences of emotional and physical pain they are afflicted with and how they struggle to deal with their suffering.