Skin & Scales by Darcy Wallace | A Poetic Response

By Angel Dust and Katie Hagan.

The female body as an othered body, the body of a witch. To reclaim the touch with nature from the talons of man, whose all pervasive hegemonic gaze throws its nets, unbothered entitled gruesome. 

There’s none of that here. Just pure magic.

Skin & Scales opens on a scene in summer, a time when the season is at its most intense. A sugared pinkish hue, as if the atmosphere has been dipped in sweet rose water, imbues the hazy setting with indulgence, hemlock.

I can hear the sun. In this land your animal side does not have to hide. It is the type of day to go blackberry picking; a day to gorge and lick soured remnants of the fruit’s nectar from the corner of someone else’s mouth.

Two bodies are kissed by light — one black wearing a candy-shade shirt, the other white wearing forest green — raise their arms and oscillate to electric music punctuated with the clatter of drums and ritualistic lament. Their bums jiggle as they teeter around like creatures preparing to launch from a precipice. 

Your animal side is what gives you strength, what gives you knowledge to comprehend that you can hold inside of you the agility of an antelope, the stillness of an alligator, the hearing of a moth. 

The scene changes to the two bodies straddling and languishing on thick branches of a big tree, in and at one with nature. Images click from one to the next as if on a viewmaster reel; arriving at the two bodies in harmony, rippling body-to-body in tandem with the pool of water that laps against their thighs. 

Muses leap, tap, shake, embrace and bite. Their fingers are blue and webbed, hips are joined. This is more than a reverie, it is as vital as our blood, royals amongst royals. 

Inky blood oozes from their mouths; the images keep clicking again and again and again; regressing (or progressing?) to the scene in summer, the chasses, the haunting ballet choreography that is not ballet but has remnants of it which won’t wash off no matter how hard you scrub. We all leak the same water when we die.

The blood has spread everywhere now; mini rivers stained onto their bodies. Knowledge arrives to you through sensation. Elemental data processed through touch with the ground, the solemn archive of the earth. And movement activates that information, our connection to our bodies translates to our connection with everything else that has ever inhabited this planet. A language of furore or unleash.

Bums and chests are offered up to the sky. The two bodies bend back to somewhere I cannot see, craving the earth that is beneath them. 

It’s coming to a close. I can feel the end is here. The bodies unravel from their arching, their surrendering to the air. They eat. 

We all leak the same water when we die.

To watch Skin & Scales on the Girls in Film website, follow this link. Skin & Scales is the debut film from director and choreographer Darcy Wallace and features N.I.P.S Temitope Ajose-Cutting & Leah Marojevic; Director of Photography Joel Honeywell and Michael Kinsella-Perks; First camera assistant Eve Carreño; 2nd Camera assistant Thomas Carpenter; Sound Designer A portal to jump through; Editor Clémentine Bartaud; Colourist Benjamin Rozario; Stills by Erika Karina. Thanks to Jessie Griffiths, Erika Symonds, Nichola Farnan, Joe Newman and Declan Wallace. Header image: Erika Karina.