I Can See You was created Summer 2020 during a virtual artist residency at North Lincolnshire Museum. The film reflects on the behaviours towards women accused of being witches, drawing from research on the witch hunt era in England and inspiration from a local Lincolnshire book of folklore tales and beliefs. These were normal women who lived amongst other people in villages and towns. I questioned why did people fear them so much that they would want them injured or even killed? I was particularly drawn to an extract by Malcolm Gaskill on witchcraft.
Witches are human. They are the other and yet they are also us. They are ‘the living projections of feelings they defy rationalisation or reconciliation: amity and enmity, compassion and cruelty, self-confidence and fear’.
I was interested in comparing our own behaviours, where individuals are blamed for the misfortunes of others, looking at the relationship dynamics between the victim and the offender. It addresses the behaviours of ‘othering’: the ‘them and us’ approach, which is very relevant in today’s society where we demonise and dehumanise the ‘inferior’ other group. This could include male vs female, black vs white or smaller groups like Jews vs Gentiles.
So, I decided to create a new fictional narrative based in a contemporary world. I wanted to trigger a frenzy of fear and anxiety, creating a series of events that relate to some of the ideologies surrounding the start of the witch hunt era such as unusual weather, population increasing etc. These disasters would make people start to think irrationally. I also looked at contemporary behaviour and language, focusing on the immigration news during Brexit, the pandemic and online influencers.
'Working with Tracy has been a real pleasure, her commitment to each project has been absolute, with a huge amount of background research contributing to each piece. Tracy admirably rose to the challenges of delivering an Artist in Residence programme during the first national lockdown for Covid-19, creating three fantastic artworks which we are proud to have on show in North Lincolnshire Museum and online. Each piece has interpreted the collection in a new and innovative way, whilst remaining accessible to audiences'.
Rose Nicholson, Heritage Manager, North Lincolnshire Museum
'Brilliant film. I particularly like the use of the newsreaders reporting the news in a contemporary and relatable way, the feeling is not too dissimilar to the feeling from Covid, Brexit and global politics reportings; when something is reported in this manner with conviction it becomes believable. Scary yet excellent work!'
Oliver Squirrell, The Artist Wingman
'What a powerful and eerily enchanting film. I was hooked from the start and couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. I love the effects you’ve used, the layering, the highly saturated colours and noise. I really like what you’ve done with the Sophie Diamonds character - I think it highlights the dangers influencers can have - and how they act as an authoritative figure in the minds of the viewer’.
Sally Garwood, Creative Programmes Coordinator
'It feels very relevant to our troubled disturbing times - even though its focused around witches it made me think about who we might be blaming and othering right now’.
Helen Wells, artist