press release

The last 12 months have seen the 20th century finally begin to draw to a close. At the level of the individual, change seems to be everywhere, uncalled for and often cathartic. The potential for transformation; of ourselves, our relationships, ideas and ways of thinking about ideas, our environment and our priorities is, at last, becoming visible. Whether this is a delayed reaction to unfulfilled millennial expectations, or a response to the shock of 9/11 isn’t necessarily the primary concern. If we are living in a key ‘historical moment’, we need to take hold of the moment to produce new relations and possibilities for change, and to be aware of the necessity to prevent these new relations from ossifying into institutional habit. Art and our conception of history both have a key role to play in producing and maintaining this awareness.

The artists, speakers and performers in ‘History Revision’ have been selected on the basis of their diverse responses to this moment. In some cases we have selected, in conjunction with the artists, recent work in a media which isn’t usually associated with them. For example Terry Atkinson will be exhibiting an installation in addition to a ‘family tree’ of small drawing based work which specifically address events in political history. Mark Fairnington, more usually noted for his painting, has opted to show a series of photomontages as part of an ‘unnatural history’ based on his recent visit to Belize.

As part of the attempt to recognise the richness of possible combinatory approaches, Chila Kumari Burman’s mixed media pieces address the experiences of the Anglo-Asian community in Britain from a personal, cultural perspective. Clarissa Beothy’s mixed media sculptures, comparing religious and political belief, are supplemented by a video she made documenting the experience of artists in Hungary under Russian occupation. Nicola Donovan produces sculptural/installation works that import the language of clothing and dress to articulate interests in historical aspects of symbolic meaning. ‘Constrictor’ also marks the time of it’s making with each black stripe signifying a solid day of labour.

Denny Long will respond to a space in the Arts Centre building with an installation piece that traces links between her personal history and the cider industry. Causality as narrative is explored by Lindsay Seers’ narrative photography referring to the sequence of events preceding a dramatic moment, and reflects the historic cataloguing that the benefit of hindsight constructs. Gavin Weston’s work critiques the History of Art and plays with a hierarchy of scale and space.

The video work in the show is intended to be seen in different environments by different audiences. Bringing it together highlights both the diversity of possibilities within the medium and challenges the popular misconception of its narrative necessity. Christopher Saunders’ ‘Book of Hours’ adopts different narrative strategies to mainstream television, yet uses both dramatic and documentary conventions and is intended for viewing in a cinema or at home on a video. Rona Lee’s piece however, is a gallery based work which eschews cinematic narrative in favour of referring to the history of cinema using a ‘shadow play’ method in a life size back projection. Brendan Byrne’s video projection, on the other hand is intended to be seen outside of the gallery, and to be seen in passing rather than from beginning to end.

This concern with history as story is reflected in Jasmin Golestaneh’s short video talk. Alternative perspectives on September 11th and conflict in the Middle East (and more immediately in Central Asia) are given by Professor Jesse Goldstaub. Harold Birks will address myths of our region’s history and culture and Matt Houldsworth will deliver a gallery talk on the unspoken gay history of the military.

These talks will be available to be downloaded or available in the gallery/cafe for the duration of the show, along with video interviews with the artists.

Performance work will complement the work in the show; see the web site or phone the gallery for more details.


History Revision
Kuratoren: Nicola Donovan, Brendan Byrne

mit Terry Atkinson, Clarissa Beothy, Chila Kumari Burman, Brendan Byrne, Nicola Donovan, Mark Fairnington, Rona Lee, Denny Long, Christopher Saunders, Lindsay Seers, Gavin Weston