Michaela Gleave

Fear Eats the Soul


LED signage, custom computer program, irrigation misters, scaffolding

20m x 11m x 3m

5 minute 'electrical glitch' loop

Commissioned by the 2016 Dark Mofo festival, Tasmania

Photographs: 1 Rémi Chauvin, 2-5 Lucy Parakhina


Looming over the audience and bleeding into the night large letters spell out the phrase FEAR EATS THE SOUL. The text is illuminated blood-red, light spilling out through a cloud of mist that leeches from the structure and dissolves like a ghostly apparition..  Reminiscent of an abandoned theme park ride, or decaying signage from a forgotten horror film, the arc of the text mirrors the form of the rising sun, whilst the deep red text infects the site with something darker. 

Presented as part the Dark Mofo festival Fear Eats the Soul reflects on pagan rituals and the banishing of darkness, referencing pre-Christian beliefs in heightened supernatural activity during the midwinter solstice.  Playing on cultural remnants of religious superstition the work asks the audience to consider the degree to which we allow fear to drive our personal and collective behaviours.

Taking its title from Werner Fassbender's 1974 film documenting racial and social prejudice in post-war Germany, Angst Essen Selle Auf, the work uses light to reflect upon Tasmania's dark side: the systematic obliteration of the island's native people and history; the colonising structures that have selectively proliferated information and power; and the culture of fear surrounding knowledge and change that undermine's the state's progress into the future.

Whilst overt in it's presence, the meaning of the work remains open to the individual, questioning the personal and political, historic and current, local and global.  Almost slapstick in its horror-film visual cues, Fear Eats the Soul treads the line between superficial and profound, religiously iconographic and pop; facing the city of Hobart front-on with it’s collective past, present and future.