PASTlives is a project I
initiated back in 2004. With aims at
uncovering answers to some of life’s great mysteries, the multimedia
undertaking reveals past histories that may - or may not - have existed through
the use of photography, film and recorded "past life regression"
Many have heard of “love at first sight,” the overused
phrase that is often the basis of so many fairy-tale “rom-com” movies. What many do not realize is that the concept
has found supporters in a most unlikely place, the religious and metaphysical
quagmire that is “reincarnation.” For
followers of this doctrine, “love at first sight” is simply the byproduct of karmic
ramifications that follow a soul from one life to the next.
About a decade or so back, and in response to
childhood questions that I’d never been successful in answering up until that
point, I began researching reincarnation and "past lives.” Even in those early studies, it became
apparent that I was less interested in the emotional aspects of a life that may
be imprinted onto a soul, and more on the aesthetic elements of a specific time
and place experienced. In other words, why
was I so intrinsically attached to certain cultures of places I had never been
to – at least not in this lifetime - when others with equal historical
significance or impressive beauty held absolutely no interest?
It was with these questions, that I set out to pay
homage to the handful of places and cultures that have consistently provided me
with artistic inspiration throughout the years.
And while I have since had the opportunity to visit many of these
locations, the question still remains...
Had my soul actually endured 13th century
Cambodia, or experienced life on the wild side of “Weimar Berlin?” Who knows?
I haven’t actually subjected myself to Past Life Regression hypnotherapy
yet, and even if I did, I'm not entirely sure I would believe in its
results. For me, it has been a more interesting challenge to create my own “PASTlives,” one after another in chronological order, impregnating them
with the quirks and attributes from my current life that seem to have no basis
for their existence.
To that end, I have collaborated with a number of
colleagues over the years to bring my “PASTlives” series to life. The stage is initially
set in the New Age community of the 1970s American Southwest, a tribute to Dick
Sutphen, the Arizona author of the 1976 book that initially inspired the project. In hopes of finding answers to why he is
failing in his vocation, and at home with his wife, our main character “Bruce”
enlists the help of Past Life Regression master "Dr. Zazio." Through their documented work, it is revealed
that Bruce has lived previously as: a
spiritual caretaker of abandoned Khmer temples in 13th century
Cambodia, a spoiled, hedonistic bon-vivant of Fin de siècle Paris, and as a
cross-dressing cabaret performer who escapes the Nazi overhaul of Weimar Berlin
only to land in the Surrealist Art scene of 1940’s Mexico City where he reinvents himself as a photographer!
In a twist, Dr. Zazio also
uncovers a “FUTURElife” for Bruce in Reykjavik, Iceland. As a lonely seaside loner who resides in
a post-apocalyptic society that undervalues creativity, "the hermit" is virtually trapped in his small abode by
his unbridled passions for art, music and the written word.
I envision PASTlives as a multimedia gallery installation that blends together a
handful of photographs from each of the six completed photoshoots with a slide
presentation of 80 (or so) “out-takes.”
The slides will be projected from a “vintage” carousel. To accompany the
images, cassette tape recordings, and a short Super8 film, from the “original 1970s PLR sessions between Dr. Zazio and Bruce" will be run on a loop. (A sampling of
mood music from each of the cultures/ time periods will also be
incorporated.) And if that was not
enough, relics from Bruce’s own life will also be on display. The “artifacts” include a number of Polaroids, and index cards from a Rolodex
that organize the facts, musings, and obsessions from a life not fully lived
“in the present.”
none of the media will necessarily be presented in any particular order, it is
hoped the traces from each of the PAST – and FUTURE – lives will reveal
themselves to the observer in uniquely relatable ways.
The project is already nearing its final stages, with all six photoshoots realized. Funding for PASTlives is still required however to complete final aspects of documentation and exhibiting. This includes enlargement of prints, creation of slides, purchase of carousel/ projector, editing of short film, recording/ editing of audio components ("PLR sessions"), promotional materials and most importantly, the design and publishing of the official PASTlives art book (full color; 60+ pages).
Shot on location:
Box Canyon/ Burbank/ Los Angeles (USA)
New York City (USA)
Uli - Sara Achilli
Karl - Richmond Burton
Shara - Michele Chinichian
Graca - Audrey Feidler
Mme. Caroline - Louise Fulton
Tina - Arjeta Gashi
Marlene - Brigid Kelly
Anne - Samantha Levin
Leonora - Julie Masi
Dr. Zazio - Douglas Stoddard
Hermine - Toni Suppa
Francis - Alexander Symcox
Abbe - Diana Taylor
Remedios - Melanie Vaget
Bruce (et. al.) - Brady Walters
Heinz - Frank Weldon
Hair & Make-Up:
Doris & Porter Vaughan