Whether or not people agree art is becoming increasing inviting, it is becoming increasing involving. The way of contemporary art, and so much of the work exhibited at the Arts centre’s Mead Gallery, is to immerse its audience into the varying 3D and multi-media format of the art. It seems logical that this should become today’s trend when considering how long the average person, students especially, spend in front of screens in a world that is almost completely reproduced virtually. We long for intimacy, to feel, to be amongst it all.
This couldn’t be truer for the work of artist Lindsay Seers, who was mute until she was eight years old. This was due to her feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of her sensory experiences of the word, that, quite literally words weren’t enough. But in this new world, the world created for us in these art exhibitions, do we long for reality or for fantasy?
The artist’s inspiration for the film and fortifying sculptures was the disappearance of her step-sister, perhaps to a diamond smuggling industrial area in west Africa. It appears that Lindsay searches for the facts of the case: for clues to her survival, and records of memories and events. Yet the work is far from a missing persons case; its style of communication reflects the confusion of the data found. Nothing, when viewing the film, appears to be true. It all seems like a surreal, disjointed fantasy. Guardian writer, Laura McLean-Ferris, questioned Seer’s award winning film of 2009, Extramission 6 – ‘Is any of it true?’ Concluding, ‘It doesn’t matter…’ Facts aside, (how can memory ever be fact?) all that is remaining is a range of viewpoints.
Seer’s film It has to be this Way2 imposes its impression in a completely unique and praise-worthy manner. Even though you long for reality, for the truth of the matter, when you discover the darkness of the truth, that it doesn’t embody this ideal image, you become reserved and retreat.
The room in which this short gothic thriller (20 minuets of fear-invoking voices and progressive imagery,) is shown in a mock, true-to-scale slave fort and throughout the film flashes of images of the real and the re-created are integrated until you lose any real sense of location. Seers picks you up and carries you in and out of reality. At times you are very conscious of the view you have down upon the circular screen that imitates looking through the camera; at other times you are completely submerged. At anytime when you are not consumed by baffled thoughts, you can admire her creative ability to relate language, the arts, and experience. A skill fostered during, and in reaction to her time when she couldn’t speak herself.
Get involved in Seer’s work and become the modern viewer. From outside appearances, the white cube design of gallery seems empty of substance. But upon seeing the film inside the slave fortress, you begin to make sense of the sculptures found outside of it. You needn’t stop for 20 minutes to capture Lindsay’s unique and ultra-modern, creative style of film making; even two minutes inside the viewing room gives you a great sense of mystery, intrigue and to some vague extend – insight. And a warning, don’t arrive with the preconception that the work there is to be understood; to enjoy the full glory of contemporary art you mustn’t search for an answer, but enjoy the exploration of the questions.
This essentially is the idea behind Lindsay Seer’s It Has to be this Way2 project. That she is not likely to solve the mystery of her missing step-sister, Christine Parks - as if she thought it possible she would have surely invested some time earlier in her life into it - it is to revel in the unknown of the journey and through a range of interviews and travels, build up a picture of the distortion and frailty of memory itself.
The Mead Gallery, part of the University of Warwick’s art centre, is holding this exhibition until 11th December. Entrance is free!
This article can also be found on Warwick University’s student newspaper – The Boar: http://theboar.org/archive/volume-33/issue-2/