Songhuan Li’s short ‘The Death of an Artist’ follows a fascinating premise that can easily be interpreted in a thousand ways without any of them being wrong. In this short experimental film, a woman called Eve (played by Daria Sarmientos), who is about to lose her sight due to some illness, goes to a centre in the Mojave Desert, where one can transcend time and space, and where euthanasia is legal. Before she dies, she is willing to experiment with all that is left. The whole process she goes through from the first minute she arrives is breathtaking, and the result becomes spectacular after you get to understand it.
Songhuan Li’s short gathers many traditions from all over the world, and as the woman follows the step-by-step program, we get to see and understand the roots of all the processes. For example, there is a fantastic example that got us hooked when the woman goes to the riverbank at night, and one can see that on the other bank, a light and some people are waiting. The whole experience is an apparent reference to the River Styx from Greek mythology, which stands as the border between Earth and Underworld. The woman remains on the river bank, figuring what happens on the other side, which proves to be a good exercise when it comes to being afraid of the unknown.
At the same time, we found another interpretation of this short film, and that is when Eve goes to this retreat centre to find answers, even though some of them require the ultimate sacrifice to be revealed. But, as we can notice, Eve is going through different places, but not entirely. She uses the ultimate sacrifice, however she’s not using it on herself, but on the block that keeps her from roaming around her mind in peace; she is trying to fight with the unseen demons that are always one step forward. Can she win? Will it be enough for her? There’s only one way to find out!
Review written by Vlad A.G