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The Woman and the Wheel of Fortune

Performance by Lila Moore Photography by Bert Loewenherz

Performance by Lila Moore Photography by Bert Loewenherz

A photograph of a woman and a wheel brings to mind thoughts about her situation in life. She appears to be in a state of surrender, the weight of her body is transferred to the wheel on which she leans. Her body corresponds with the curving direction of the wheel and her eyes are shut. Is she asleep, unconscious or is she dreaming? She looks absorbed by her inner world whilst her arms loosely hang on the round wooden structure. Does she look weak like someone who gave up on something and is now allowing the wheel of fortune to carry her anywhere? Or is it the opposite? Could it be that her body reflects the trust she has in the invisible motion and destination of the wheel? Maybe, she is too young to know. Perhaps she is just testing her position on the wheel of fortune. Her journey has just begun.

Turn, turn, turn, She whispers, Oceanic wheel of Titanic love

Turn, turn, turn, she can already feel the oppression of the weight of the wheel on her body. The weight of life's journey is beginning to show. Has her ordeal begun? She hopes the troubled waters are behind her but little does she know. Nevertheless, she refuses to be crashed by the weight of her pressing fortune. She begins to navigate her route magically, dreaming it, stirring the wheel of fortune with her ideas, and moving onwards with the winds and waves of allied spirits and elements. Whispering, Turn, turn, turn, Oceanic wheel of Titanic love, As I set in motion Your fortunate heart

Her eyes are still shut. Does it mean that she is out of control, thus, weak? Or, maybe she is looking within, avoiding the illusionary scenes that external reality performs so well. Where does her performance take place? Is it in her photographed pose alone, behind her closed eyes, or in the combination of both as expressed by the overall composition?

Performance by Lila Moore Photography by Bert Loewenherz

Performance by Lila Moore Photography by Bert Loewenherz

I analyzed these photographic images of the woman and the wheel in my PhD thesis on Dance on Screen as part of a process that explores how visual metaphors of the body are created in relation to ways with which the body is choreographed and aesthetically treated in the frame. On one hand, the photographs show the neutral, black and white photographic studio environment that tightly frames the woman. 'The space renders no emotion than the sense of repression suggested by the expression of the woman's body' (Dance on Screen: 2001). On the other hand, she is part of a wider nexus of meanings that integrates the chant: Turn, turn, turn, and which inspired the original performance of the photographs with the wheel.

The woman is indeed engulfed by a sense of oppression but neither is it the entire story nor the only meaning that the photographs generate. The woman's journey is fueled by inspiration from other legendary women who turned the wheel of culture and humanity in new directions. Those are women who struggled against cultural norms, risked being alienated and endured poverty to the point of starvation.

Enchantresses and trailblazers of art, film, dance and ritual-magic, Moina Mathers (1865-1928) and Maya Deren (1917-1961) comprehended the woman's body as the core of new aesthetics as well as spiritual and magical practices. So as you turn, turn, turn, the wheel of [your] fortune, remember them and feel the love.

Dr Lila Moore will give a Masterclass on the feminine aesthetics of Moina Mathers and Maya Deren, and how their combined wisdom and innovations enlighten our feminine identity, creativity and magic(k)al practices in the 21st century at the Magic(k) Women Conference on 1st June, 2018 in London. For more info and additional articles on related topics please join Dr Lila Moore's mailing list, here.

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