Aotearoa New Zealand-born artist Sriwhana Spong’s video This Creature takes as its starting point her unfulfilled request to handle the only known surviving manuscript of The Book of Margery Kempe (1436–38), held in the British Library. The book is an account of the early 15th-century mystic’s devotional life and her personal, highly physical, spiritual odyssey. Considered to be the earliest autobiography written in the English language, Kempe dictated the book to male scribes, referring to herself not by her own name but in third person form as ‘this creature’.
Filmed by Spong on her iPhone, This Creature comprises footage of the artist’s hand touching various sculptural and architectural forms in London’s Hyde Park. An anonymous voiceover accompanies the scenes, narrating ruminations on Kempe’s complex somatic life together with fragments from Spong’s own biography. In its multi-voiced narrative and slippage between styles and genres, This Creature invokes the mystic’s styles of writing to create a textured world of Spong’s own.