She Emerged Out of Complete Silence
a video installation by Sophie Leddick
With a performance featuring Kyra Lehman and sound artist Ken Urbina
July 13-29, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, July 13, 6-9PM


If we remain at the heart of the image under consideration, we have the impression that, by staying in the motionlessness of its shell, the creature is preparing temporal explosions, not to say whirlwinds, of being.
––Gaston Bachelard, “Shells,” from The Poetics of Space


I started collecting shell memorabilia this last year, without knowing why. Maybe I am fascinated by their geometrical patterns. Golden mean, spirals, repetition, symmetry...the process of their formation is a phenomenon of nature, one that is beyond my imagination. Shells are found in burial grounds. There is an allegory of ground up shells on the beaches of Sicily giving birth to new shellfish – the ocean counterpart of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. They are blueprints for living beings. The vulnerable soul residing in the body is like the squishy animal living inside the shell.

The shell is a symbol of sound. I have feared the sound of my voice since childhood. Retreating into my body and being quiet is how I reacted to the intensity of the world. I still feel safe in silence. In silence I contemplate death, endings, the structure of love and how it is related to your heart. Your actual, physical heart. Like hearts, shells have chambers. Bachelard speaks about the Lithocardites dreamed up by J. B. Robinet. Lithocardites are heart shells, “rough drafts of a heart that will one day beat.”

9 years ago, my doctor discovered that I have a benign heart murmur through echocardiogram. Echo-cardio-gram. Echo of the heartbeat. In Greek mythology Echo gets punished by a jealous wife and loses her ability to speak; she can only repeat the last phrase of what she hears. Echo falls in love with Narcissus but is rejected by him, and she lives out the rest of her life in the solitude of the hilly earth contemplating her mortality. I imagine Echo laying in the dimple of a glen. She might have brought her hand to her heart and felt its beat under her skin and her rib bones, which sometimes feels paper thin. Perhaps the body should start to evolve so that the heart is protected a bit more. Perhaps I needed a dress of armor, one that allowed the heart to be placed into the body, covered, locked in place, and protected.

There is violence in emergence. The act of leaving a shell is painful and courageous. The act of utterance is imperative. So, why must we speak?

We must speak on behalf of our heart.
––Sophie Leddick


Sophie Leddick is a multi-media artist working in performance, film/video, and writing. The origins of her practice are rooted in classical ballet. Framed by the human condition, through language (writing) and movement (choreography) her work formally explores relationships between people, the inner self (the profundity of being and becoming), sound and the inadequacy of language for conditions like, loss, love, and grief, inner and exterior space (confinement, liminality), and physicalized metaphor. She earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.