Note from the writer and director...
There have been a few questions on the title of the film, the use of the painting and the woman. Before we answer those questions it should be stated that this film was made to be interpreted by audiences, not by filmmakers. The idea was to try and make the audience a part of the film by shooting it in first person.
For James and I this film is about overcoming ailments or demons like addiction, rejection, loss, compulsiveness, etc. The woman and Artemis are alter-egos of the man tied to the chair/the audience. Alternatively, they might be better described as the victim’s angels or his higher or true self coaxing him to let go of his fears and grow through his pain. Everyone has a masculine and feminine side to their personality and we wanted to represent that by casting a man and woman to play Artemis, much as Pablo Picasso used alter-egos in his paintings. His most famous alter ego by far being the harlequin.
The painting depicted in the film is inspired by Picasso’s “1971 Harlequin Head” which burned in a Romanian fire as it also does at the end of this film. The harlequin was an ambiguous figure in Picasso’s paintings, and represented Picasso’s own journey through Hades according to Dr. C.G. Jung. Wondering around aimlessly with his flute and wine, leaving Jung to wonder if Picasso was a little too comfortable in Hades.
The painting represents the shadow, the insecure ego, the enemy, the devil, etc. In essence, the internal liar, tormentor, accuser and condemner always in fear of its own annihilation. Its eyes are always fixated on the subject/audience. The disconnected and dirty mirror we see our insecurities and fears reflected in. That was the Harlequin to Picasso, and that's why we use it here.
Using the modern fetish definition of cuckold, the painting is like the husband who receives sick pleasure from watching his wife with a greater stag, and gets excited by the shame and humiliation of his self-perceived inadequacy. But as the saying goes, there is no sympathy for the devil. Nor should there be. The cuckold mate in these situations is the one in control. He pulls our strings, and if we do not drag him into the light we are a slave to those things we do but don’t want to do. Those things we know we shouldn't do, and it's usually tied to fear.
This film is ultimately about facing your fears. The more we face them the less they matter. As Artemis would say, "There is no pain".
Lance Larson and James R Adams II