WIDOW (2013-present), created and performed by Jil Guyon, is a collection of solo, movement-based works made for stage, screen, and print. In each creation the Widow character explores the contours of grief and transcendence through ritualized gesture. Her defining black dress, heels, and unfurling belt form a visual leitmotiv that sets the stylistic and emotional tone throughout the series. Archetypal subtexts—the movie star; the femme fatale; the survivor; the lonely wanderer—arise and dissolve, creating a symbolic arena for the investigation of female agency in the wake of loss.
The live performances feature the character executing a suspenseful walk in radically slow time. Her extreme stillness initiates a highly concentrated energetic exchange with the audience as she gradually reveals objects hidden beneath her costume. Layers of fabric begin to unravel, and her movement becomes increasingly repetitive in an effort to liberate her mind and body from the forces that bind her. Theatrical, interventionist, durational, and site-specific, the live performances are a meditative procession of impeccably controlled movement from which an austere series of stage pictures emerge.
In the aesthetically diverse cinematic short videos the character re-performs variations on the live performance choreography. Driven by unconscious forces into a succession of varied environments, the desolation of her interior world is both reflected in, and witnessed by, the shifting typographies she is compelled to traverse. These environments also function as characters with which the protagonist must contend. Their historical, symbolic, and emotional energies reverberate through image, sound, and movement—each video offering a distinct perspective on a set of themes and abstractions ranging from grief to identity.
The photographs extend the series beyond time-based media. Shot on location alongside the videos, the camera acts as witness to the character's actions. Her manipulation of the unfurling belt forms a gestural calligraphy that gives further voice to the character's struggle.
Subverting linear narrative and singular intent, the series merges deep presence with autobiography, strangeness, poetry, and catharsis—inviting viewers to make intuitive connections between personal history, images, and ideas.