Author: Laura McLean-Ferris

Publication: The Independent

Press Date: 4 Sep 2012


Imagine you are on a boat in the middle of a vast ocean, but one that can flow on currents of time as well as those of space – future, present and past.

You can board this ship via the unlikely entry point of a nineteenth century corrugated iron chapel in Kilburn, for this is the location of a new work by Lindsay Seers commissioned by Artangel (the brilliant agency responsible for Roger Hiorns's blue crystalline apartment and Rachel Whiteread's cast interior house among dozens of others). This remarkably fragile structure – the kind of flatpack church that was put up during the Industrial Revolution in Britain and across the world colonially – has been transformed by a local sea cadet group to resemble a ship deck, though Seers has extended and built on this seafaring association by creating a structure inside its nave resembling the upturned hull of a ship (note the etymological relationship between nave/naval/navy from the Latin navis for 'ship').           

Having been led through a small room decorated with naval memorabilia and photographs, you enter this dark, inverted space and focus your eyes on two circular screens,one concave and one convex, like an eyeball and its contact lens. On these plays out Seers’s glancing, veering narrative, which begins from a desire to track down her great uncle, George Edwards – a sailor with two different coloured eyes who sailed to Zanzibar on the HMS Kingfisher in the late 1800s – and then embarks on the kind of compelling, tenebrous tales for which the artist has become well known (she has previously created films that involve the search for a lost step sister and investigate her own refusal to speak as a child). She finds other men named George Edwards, she finds his name carved into a tree, she performs a ritual in a costume copied from a photograph of her great uncle’s wife, Georgina.

Like Tacita Dean or W.G. Sebald, Seers embroiders complex associative webs by submitting herself to the currents of chance, yet her work is less anchored to the real. Though beginning with rich seeds of personal truth, these are cultivated into elaborate, fantastical blooms. However, in Nowhere Less Now, when another George Edwards speaks to us from the future, a world in which linear time has ceased to exist and still images have become illegal, you accept this as a kind of truth – an extension from our current obsessions with recording the world. This is simply another way of seeing – in 360 degrees.