Multidisciplinary artist Female Pentimento enlists the talents of digital visionary Axonbody for the enigmatic visual for ‘Zugunruhe’, named after the German word for anxious or restless behaviour in migratory animals.
Though often drawing from personal pain, the work of Female Pentimento shines divine light on a world full of wonder. In her music, organ drones are layered with visceral sound design, ASMR whispers and lacerated noise to amplify a constant tension between transcendent beauty and cathartic horror. In the same way her imagery, intricate composites of photography and digital composition, conjures moments of beauty so surreal they constantly threaten to tip over into the sublime. Through the eyes of Female Pentimento, our world is teeming with apparitions, Ignes Fatui, Brocken spectres, luminous glories and Heiligenschein, natural phenomena that come the closest to manifestations of the miraculous. “I grew up in the Methodist church and I think subconsciously a lot of traditional, Christian symbolism has been embedded in my psyche and made its way into my work; light being one element,” the artist told Coeval Magazine. “Its ability to transmute the physical and speak to a more beautiful, inner world withstands the cliches and religious connotations for me.” Eschewing depictions of human beings for alternate realities inhabited by alternate forms of energy, Female Pentimento seeks to transform the world as means of exploring our place within it, a biospiritualist practice that finds divine inspiration within nature. Digital visionary Axonbody shares a similarly metaphysical approach to image making, blurring the natural with the synthetic until they are indistinguishable from each other, collapsing all matter into vibrant material, bursting with potential energy. The two share such common ground that their collaboration feels destined, the meeting of two minds dedicated to both inner and outer discovery. It’s fitting, then, that the two come together for Zugunruhe, a searing hymn to turmoil and transformation, exposing a spirit in crisis.
“In the video we use the motif of birds to speak directly to this idea of ‘zugunruhe’, which is a term that refers to the instinctive restlessness that many migratory birds experience,” explains Female Pentimento. “I think as a concept it’s an interesting metaphor for the liminal phase of a healing process, that is, wanting to change your physical or mental state but not knowing how and feeling lost amidst the desire.” Stroboscopic flares, storm clouds swollen with electricity and warped murmurations of birds depict states of continual flux, perched on a knife edge between change and destruction. Artificial light penetrates grey rock formations while ancient stones burn with pale fire, the natural world ruptured by unnatural forces. “The notions of cycles and rebirths is something that has always been very central in my work,” continues Axonbody. “What is left after a form of energy ascends from one layer of reality to another? Can some of it stay left behind, and what would it look like? I think I connected very closely to ‘Zugunruhe’ because of that. The friction between the whispered voices and the screams in the vocals feels like a very raw depiction of this state of confusion someone can feel when being on the verge of big changes, or transformation, this feeling of fear and attraction towards that next layer of reality, the next stage in your life.” Female Pentimento describes the track as “a response to my own desire to heal from abuse but not having the tools or know-how to do so,” and alternates between tender spoken word, ethereal harmonies, strangled song and eviscerated howls, lending clarity to catharsis. “I wanted to capture the longing and chaos of that process,” the artist continues. “I was interested in exploring different sonic temperatures, so there are parts of the song that are quite cold and barren, while other moments feel a bit warmer and soothing. I think this reflects the emotional ups and downs that can come with the journey to mend one’s heart.”
“I’ve been a fan of Axonbody’s work for a few years now and I’ve always been drawn to his ability to organically speak to the metaphysical,” says Female Pentimento of their shared vision of ‘Zugunruhe’. “I think what makes Female Pentimento’s work so special is that while depicting very unique and surreal scenes, there is some sort of omniscient quality to it,” continues Axonbody. “It feels like these images are already a part of you before you even see them, like finding an old film photograph that you took in a past life. I think that’s a very precious feeling that not a lot of art can convey and I love the work for that. It just feels very natural and universal. I have a very iterative approach when it comes to creatives process; I’ll start by going very spontaneously into it, drafting as much as possible based off emotion and intuition, and then get back at it, deconstruct it and refine over and over. For this collaboration this approach was especially perfect since Female Pentimento and I have a very connected and symbiotic visual language, so it felt like the video just built itself very naturally based off the song. The process was so fluent that this space in between our worlds somehow manifested itself naturally, and reaching a balance was actually very organic.” Shot through with chaos, the pair’s shared biospiritualist vision begins and ends with the organic, from invisible vapours in space to petrified tree roots deep underground, dark skies over shallow seas giving way to tireless flocks. From out of these phenomena there arises a presence, manifested in glitching angel apparitions and green laser light, a spirit very much in crisis yet held in place by the terrible power of the numinous, an expression of immanence that sheds light on our place in the world by transforming it.