Materials: Cardboard and wooden structure, two masked circular MDF screens on mobile TV arms, DVD projection with 5.1 surround sound, cardboard star, 2 monitors and plinths with headphones, 2 DVDs with stereo sound, benches, free novel to take away.
In 1999 a young woman was involved in a moped accident. She suffered damage to both her short and long-term memory and was left unable to decipher her experiences. A year later she went missing in Rome and has subsequently not been found.
It has to be this way1.5 is a new commission by aspex and marks Lindsay Seers’ continued attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the young woman, her stepsister, Christine Parkes.
The artist, obsessed with the transformative powers of photography, follows streams of associations; her stepsister’s boyfriend’s diary, her mother’s memories alongside a shared archive of images and papers, determine the outline of her ongoing journey and the form for the unfolding narrative of the work. The viewer enters a structure in which everything is connected, a memory theatre painted blue, a giant star, a doubled video, and a documentary and novella that weave together a complex set of relationships which shift at every turn.
What constitutes the artistic practice of Lindsay Seers is not mere storytelling, but a matrix where there is no formal separation between the conceptual investigation of the act of photography, the camera as apparatus, the common desire for film and photography to act as evidence of events, and the complex historical and personal synchronicities of the events themselves. What we are witnessing in the work of Seers is not so much a detached systematic outline of these relationships, but the unfolding of the creative process, where the act of observation and understanding influences the outcome of events.
Through Seers’ photographic explorations the past is constantly reconfigured, as if it contains an infinite virtual potential for different outcomes, which are all already embedded in one another.
Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, will also be exhibiting the work of Lindsay Seers. The installation It has to be this way2 will be exhibited from 9 October until 11 December 2010.
Lindsay Seers is based in London. She was recently awarded the Derek Jarman Award with a commission of four short films for Channel 4. Her recent exhibitions include It has to be this way2, at the National Gallery of Denmark (2010), Persistence of Vision, FACT (2010), Steps into the Arcane, Kuntsmuseum, Thurgau, Switzerland (2010), Altermodern, Fourth Tate Triennial, Tate Britain (2009), It has to be this way, Matt’s Gallery, London (2009), and Event Horizon, (performance/screening), Royal Academy of Art, London (2008).
Text: Why it has to be this way. Author: David Burrows.
Transcription of a talk on It has to be this way 1.5 by David Burrows for Aspex Gallery, 11th November 2010
[Extract] "It seemed that Lindsay Seers' work traces a line between narratives of loss, isolation and disappearance and the narratives and processes of connection and multiplicity (and a consciousness of connectivity and matter – life as a vital force). I thought I sensed a tension here between narratives of finitude and disappearance and those of connectivity and multiplicity which hinged on forgetting, or on losing one's self.
But then recently, when rereading my notes, a thought occurred to me: perhaps what I view as instances of trauma in Lindsay Seers' narratives might not be so. Or at least, a more dynamic relationship between disappearance and loss and connectivity and multiplicity might be drawn. When dead images come alive, when the finite is overwhelmed by the infinite, a frightening transformation can occur – frightening for the creature of habit that is – which involves a violence of a kind through overcoming a fixed relation to an image. How else would a time traveler experience the present as an effect of the past – they forget everything they know and remember everything they do not know?
There is an event in It has to be this way which triggered this thought. Lindsay's mother finds her step-sister Christine in hospital suffering from amnesia. She shows Christine a series of photographs to see if her memory will return. We are told that Christine arranges the photographs like Tarot Cards. Now Tarot cards in skilled hands reveal or predict the past or the future, and may even shape the future (through suggestion perhaps, but even so the cards have their influence). At least we might agree that Tarot Cards might be said to open up potential interpretations of the past and future, if not the potential of the past and the future. To treat photographs as tarot cards is to free them from their function as records of events and things that have since passed and disappeared. And this episode might be an indication of how Lindsay Seers, who lives, as I think, almost entirely in the imaginary, might think of the potential of the photographic image. This is why the lens produces consciousness for her.
This almost mystical aspect of Seers work is somewhat surprising and complex. How to explain it and its relation to her practice? It is best explored through the artist's identification with John Dee and his works. For in answer to my final questions concerning the photograph she replied: 'I like Dee's hieyroglyphic monad'
John Dee was an alchemist from the time of the Tudors who spoke with angels. Seers makes reference to, and includes an image of Dee's hieroglyphic monad in It has to be this way. What is a hieroglyphic monad? In 1564, in a mystical state, Dee produced hieroglyphic symbols intended as representations of the reality of the monad, a singular entity from which all material things are said to derive.
Lindsay asked me (though I suspect she already knew the answer): ‘Can a photograph be like a hieroglyphic symbol?’
For Lindsay Seers, the photographic or film document would be just this then, a special symbol or sign. An indexical sign no doubt but one that registers a cosmos from which all material things emerge. This explains, I think, why Lindsay Seers rejects the image as a fragment of the past that is always viewed from the vantage point of the present, as habit demands. She rejects this structuring of time as insufferable and deadly and embraces all images as living things connected to all other images (to all other things). For Lindsay, it has to be this way!" [Read the full text by clicking the link below]
Documentation of It has to be this way 2009, Matt's Gallery, London. The version made for Aspex Gallery had a different supporting documentary video shown on an independent monitor. The main video in the structure was also re-edited with a new sound track and the novel was re-edited and had a new cover.
Sound track for the film It has to be this way 2009. The original sound track is 5.1 it has been compressed to stereo here