Materials: Cardboard and wooden structure, steel platform with iron balcony, wooden stairs, cardboard tubes, cardboard star and diamond, HD projection with 5.1 surround sound, monitor with DVD and headphones, bench, free novel to take away on shelves.
This filmic work set in a model of an African slave fort implicitly critiques European colonialism through the specifics of individual biographies set against the implications of the relationship to the large historical narratives of the history of exploitation and violence.
Press Release: Mead Gallery. Author: Sarah Shalgosky
“I was her mother but she was never my daughter and now she has gone missing, I can honestly say that I never loved her.”
This short sentence that opens the film at the heart of It has to be this way², crystallises the ambiguities, contradictions and the play between past and present which constantly reshape our memories. Memory of the past illuminates our present actions and experiences. It is a crucial aspect of our personal identities.
We imagine perception to be a kind of photographic view of things taken from that fixed point … But is it not obvious that the photograph, if photograph there be, is already taken, already developed in the very heart of things and at all the points of space?
Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory
Bergson’s description of the way that we take possession of the present through our memory, uses the metaphor of a photograph. However, this photograph is not evidence; it is the all encompassing medium through which our personal narratives are constantly reformed.
Lindsay Seers’ work explores the complexities and shifts in understanding the past and the present. She develops narratives from the voices and images of her family life, engaging chance, the occult and the subconscious to restage periods from her own history and that of her parents and siblings.
It has to be this way² resumes the story of her stepsister’s disappearance and retraces Christine’s travels through Ghana where the slave forts, relics of British, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish and Danish exploitation, line the “Gold Coast”, recalling a shameful colonial past. The monocular view of the journey seems to locate the spectator behind the camera as well; we too have “beady eyes, looking down”. As voyeurs, we immediately reconfigure the narrative as we synchronise our understanding of the history that we are watching with our own histories.
The disappearance of a young woman, the transfer of a mother’s focus from her daughters to a life in West Africa with a new husband – these are traumas that percolate through a family and are revisited and explored from different perspectives in time. What Lindsay Seers shows is that this journey is not a singular and finite process. Questions are asked repeatedly: “why didn’t I stay?”, “why did he go?” but the answers remain unresolved. Photographs compress intense sensations into a two dimensional form, recollections are contradictory, partial and incomplete.
As the documentary evidence accumulates, it becomes proportionately apparent that it is not enough – that the past and the present continuously reform each other and that although we may want our conceptions of ourselves to be just one way, they never can.