Performing Histories is an exhibition bringing together three video works from Scotland, Norway and Romania. Using processes of re-enactment and archival source material, the works expose the instability and theatricality of histories, and the conflicting cultural anxieties that construct national identities.
The following three works have been shown consecutively in the gallery, each showing for two weeks each:
The Lion and the Unicorn, Rachel Mclean
Inspired by the heraldic symbols found on the Royal Coat of Arms of The United Kingdom, the lion (representing England) and the unicorn (representing Scotland), the film uses these representations of both alliance and opposition to explore the myriad, convoluted and often contradictory constructions of national identity that make up the unstable definitions of what it means to be Scottish or part of the Union with England. The work expands upon the arbitrary and absurd nature of these symbols and their potential as signifiers to be unpacked and imbued with a variety of incongruous meanings. All characters are performed by the artist with the dialogue created through lipsynching to collaged archival recordings.
The Goodness Regime, Jumana Manna & Sille Storihle
A creative documentary exploring the myths and images that have created an understanding of Norway as a nation of peace and benevolence, investigating the foundations of the ideology and self-image of modern Norway – from the Crusades, via the adventures of Fridtjof Nansen and the trauma of wartime occupation, to the diplomatic theatre of the Oslo Peace Accords. The binding element is a series of enactments by children that recount the myths, historical events and cultural personas that have propelled the image of Norway as a peace nation. These stagings are weaved together with archival footage, political speeches and voice-overs from Hollywood films describing the quintessential Norway.
Auditions for a Revolution, Irina Botea
In Chicago in 2006, young people audition for roles in a reenactment of the first televised revolution, the 1989 Romanian revolution. These auditions, a preparation for an event that took place in the past and which were witnessed by the artist, are juxtaposed with real footage of the revolution making visible the tension between the construction versus the spontaneous unfolding of historical events, and the performance of national identities.