Susanna Coffey
A portrait of a dimly lit face on a dark background

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Day for Night
Collection of the artist

Day for Night is a painting with two motifs, one a self-portrait, the other a landscape. The relation between the two, a person and a place, is the real subject of this work. A half-lit face with eyes closed is in front of a darkened, burning city. The portrait is of me, but is not so much about my individual persona. There is a drama, but it is of an ambiguous nature. The figure is perhaps a witness, a victim, or could be a perpetrator. He or she may be part of the devastation or may be imagining it, dreaming it. Day for Night, the title of this picture, refers to a technique used by filmmakers to shoot scenes during the day that appear as if filmed at night. This work is part of a series made in response to our recent political context. Media images of such events as the US invasion of Haiti (the landscape in this painting), wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 9/11 (where I was actually as well as virtually present) make me question the way that I am present in the world. Witness to devastation, destruction, and war and yet maintaining a relatively normal daily life, I find myself living within two conflicting realities. My painting is an attempt to express this disjuncture. There is no illustrative intent.