Author: Mike Brennan


Press Date: 2010

Neo-narration: stories of art
A new wave of contemporary art is keen to tell stories – and just as interested in new ways of telling them
by Mike Brennan


Discussion of Lindsay Seers' work:

[Extract] Just as Martens'  [Dutch artist Renzo Martens] hard-hitting practice gains much of its power from the authority associated with documentary, Lindsay Seers likewise uses aspects of the genre to bestow credibility on an otherwise incredible story: apparent accounts of her early life and subsequent phases of artistic development.

Film, installation and texts relate the fact that as a child she was mute: a situation, we learn, that was probably influenced by her possession of a genuinely photographic memory.

When, at the age of eight, she eventually uttered her first words, her extraordinary ability to recollect began to fade, prompting the artist quite literally to turn herself into a camera by inserting light-sensitive paper into her mouth and using her lips as aperture and shutter.

She saw this act as a kind of ventriloquism, a notion explored through the development of various alter-egos, including 'Sailor Bill', a two-headed, animatronic ventriloquist dummy whose mouth snaps open to photograph those in his vicinity.

Finally, the artist gave up her life as a camera to concentrate instead on 'becoming' a projector.

The extraordinary nature of Seers' 'auto-biography' is substantiated, documentary style, by a plethora of apparently genuine sources such as interviews with her mother and a psychologist.

Various artifacts – some clearly art objects, others less obviously so – further develop and support the artist's story.

In a recent show, a short book detailing a search for Seers' lost half-sister was distributed to gallery-goers. Ostensibly written by an M. Anthony Penwill, the author's identity – as well as that of the artist's half-sister – may or may not be a fiction.

Seers' richly diverse use of narrators and narrative devices extends, like the work of most neo-narrationists, across a wide array of mediums. Most startling, however, is her very direct correlation of image with word, the photographs emerging from her mouth a soundless utterance that contributes unique form to a plethora of distinctive voices.

And for a discussion of Nicolas Bourriaud's Altermodern at Tate Britain's 2009 Triennial in which Seers' work featured: