It has to be this way2 explores the complexities and uncertainties of history and memory. The installation resumes the story of the disappearance of the artist’s stepsister, Christine Parkes. Presented on a circular screen within a structure derived from forts on the West African Gold Coast, Christine’s stepmother narrates her tale while the film retraces her travels through West Africa. The complex and unsettling story takes the viewer on a journey that navigates the occult, the subconscious and the fragmentation of personal memory.
It has to be this way2 resumes the story of the disappearance of Seers’ stepsister Christine and retraces her travels through Ghana, where the slave forts line the Gold Coast, recalling the shameful colonial past of British and European exploitation. The monocular view of the journey seems to locate the spectator behind the camera as well; we too have ‘beady eyes, looking down’. As voyeurs, we immediately reconfigure the narrative as we synchronise our understanding of the history we are watching with our own. The disappearance of a young woman, the transfer of a mother’s focus from her daughter’s to a life in West Africa with a new husband - these are traumas that run through a family and are revisited and explored from different perspectives in time. As the documentary evidence accumulates, it becomes apparent that it is not enough. Just as past and present continuously reform each other, so too our identities and self-conceptions, no matter how we try to pin them down, remain in flux and ever-changing.
‘I was her mother but she was never my daughter and now she has gone missing, I can honestly say that I never loved her.’
This sentence, which opens the film at the heart of It has to be this way2, crystallises the ambiguities, the contradictions and the play between past and present which constantly reshape our memories. Memory of the past illuminates our present actions and experiences. Lindsay Seers’ work explores the complexities and shifts at play in any understanding of past and present. She begins with an exploration of the image; a recurring interest into the act of photography, the workings of the lens and the apparatus of the camera. She develops narratives from her family life, engaging chance, the occult and the subconscious to restage periods from her own history and the histories of her parents and siblings.
George Shaw, The Sly and Unseen Day, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle
Hannah Starkey: Twenty-Nine Pictures, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick