More about the exhibition
The viewer becomes a participant
Instead of providing a neutral viewing space, Lindsay Seers’ installations embed filmic imagery within structures from which the plot of the stories is derived. For It has to be this way², Seers employs an architecture resembling one of the derelict slave fortresses on the Ghanaian coast. The viewing chamber is a large-scale cardboard fort providing a theatrical/virtual space for the unfolding drama. Entering the building the viewer becomes implicated in these events as a participant.
A narrative web
Lindsay Seers personal history intersects with overarching historical events just as the experiences and memories of the subjects – already multiplicitous and contradictory – blend into an extensive narrative web. A central voice in the work is the artist’s mother, Pamela Parkes. In a series of recordings made while under the influence of hypnosis, Pam reveals her guilt over past decisions. Beyond these personal narratives, Seers’ interest lies in the means employed to recount history, believing that the very act of observing and understanding events influences their course. The artist acknowledges that the technical tools used for recording a story – in this case video and stills cameras – actually create events/history and therefore determine our experience of them. Seemingly innocent technical methods, often considered to truthfully capture our daily lives, are in fact powerful tools that shape us and alter the way we see the world.
Seers bases her work on archival research, investigations into photographic and filmic technologies and on historic events and artefacts, but alongside this ‘rational’ approach her work is equally governed by the pursuit of chance procedures and connections. She often lets others make selections from material that will determine the development of her work. The pool of images from which photographs can be selected are already related; the narrative is in a sense already written, but yet to emerge.
Based on methods of orientation that her sister used following her severe memory loss, Seers lets her creative process evolve according to omens and signs. Inspired by an image of a bee on one of the baroque manuscripts her stepsister had been studying, Seers decided that her working process during the making of It has to be this way² should be guided by the chance discovery of bees. Seers’ work was initiated by the discovery of a dead bumblebee in the garden of the National Gallery of Denmark on the way to a meeting with curator Marianne Torp, who was then asked to select nine numbers from a range of possibilities, which corresponded to images in the Seers/Parkes archive. The archive includes material on Pamela Parkes’ life in West Africa, the subsequent travels of Christine Parkes in Ghana and her research into Queen Christina of Sweden, as well as some miscellaneous material from Seers’ previous investigation into the disappearance of her stepsister. The nine numbers selected by Marianne Torp referred to photographs of two colonial forts; two fetish temples; a fetish shrine; a postcard from Pamela Parkes addressed to Lindsay Seers; a photograph of Pamela with her brother Terry on board their yacht; and a photograph of Christine in colonial dress.