"Christabel" is a photographic storytelling by Sojournposse photographers Salina Christmas and Zarina Holmes. It is the duo's ongoing photobook project.
It is based on an 18th century poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge about a young woman, Christabel, whose life is taken over by a vampire named Geraldine. Christabel is also a story about inner conflict, guilt and suppressed desire. This work was influential in the birth of Gothic storytelling genre taking place at the end of that century.
Interpretations on this body of work, strong in its sexual undertones, have led some to assume that "Christabel" relates to Coleridge's opium hallucination, and lesbian fantasy. A popular theory is that "Christabel" is about Coleridge's relationship with fellow poet William Wordsworth.
This project is the second series of Christmas and Holmes's study on the portrayal of female characters in Literature. It is also a continuation of her research on ‘frames’ and ‘remediation’ last year, reflected in the artwork "One Thousand and One Nights". The focus has now moved on from the media, or ‘placeholder’, that contains and shapes the storytelling conventions, to the role that storyscape and ‘play’ (Huizinga, 1955) contribute towards the simulation of a digital narrative.
For their first project, "One Thousand and One Nights", the photography duo examined the complex dual nature of the female, reflected via the portrayal of the female characters in the ancient Persian tale it is based on.
“We rely on works of fiction, in any medium, to help us understand understand the world and what it means to be human” (Murray, 1997). “The profound affinity in play and order is perhaps the reason why play seems to lie to such a large extent in the field of aesthetics. … It is ‘enchanting’” (Huizinga, 1955). “Play has the tendency to be beautiful.”
For "Christabel", the storytellers-actors were dressed by London-based vintage label, Love In The Afternoon. Special thanks to our muse, Myriam Lengline, and Yvonne Oliver for supporting this project.