Lindsay Seers: Nowhere Less Now
The Tin Tabernacle, London
September 8th - October 21, 2012
I started to gradually delve into the work of Lindsay Seers back in 2009, slowly peeling back the leaves as they were eloquently unwrapped before my eyes. The tale of the Black Maria: the human camera, her step-sister Christine's disappearance in 2001. Nothing ever adds up, the trajectories always skewed, history as fiction, or was that fiction as fact? I believed it all, and still do. Seers has forever imagined for the viewer a stream of references framed inside and out, playing gate keeper to both the past and the future, un-solving in her wake the very franchise of history. The tales interspersed with such bold clarity, the work is that of an artist that is so psychopathically linked to the design of history that we are unable to see if we're being played as fools or a-drift upon a remarkable ontological raconteur of the past.
Here in the enclaves of Kilburn, London within the dust of a falling-down grade II listed building which goes by the name of The Tin Tabernacle the story of Lindsay Seers begins again. Within the Tabernacle Seers has built an upturned ship which works as part-performance / part-cinema, equipped with headphones for the viewers, two circular screens are set in the centre of the main room; one flat and one spherical a potential ode to a lapse between a 'then' and 'now' glitch in time. Nowhere Less Now is an Artangel produced site-specific investigation into the life and times of Seers' Great Great Uncle George Edwards and his mystically dressed wife Georgina.
It is the act of intimacy which Seers plays upon within her work, in essence abusing the trust made between artist and viewer by enabling such access to the details of her own histories and family - hall-marking the work as ever more personable especially in light of the audio narration which mainly spoken by a women that we can only presume to be Seers herself. The viewer is individually invited to bear witness to the unfolding of a remarkable encounter. We are told that in her possession Seers has a photograph, this documentation acts as a lynch for a project of time which Nowhere Less Now attempts to conduct. The image of George Edwards on board HMS Kingfisher acts as a unique insight which, up until now has remained in a brown envelope in Seers' possession. George a nail maker by trade served on HMS Kingfisher from 1888 - 1891, the fact that Seers' own father worked as a radio operator for the Royal Navy brings the artist ever closer to her Great Great Uncle, the discovery of his birth date as the same as her own but 100 years prior makes the tale even more conspicuous. Born with heterochromia rendering him with different coloured pupils - this distinction and George's wife Georgina's frightening masonic outfit come to bear as visual moments which don't unite Seers to her ancestors but empty out the connection, rendering the past ever more abject and mysterious.
Upon this photographic encounter Seers leaves for Zanizibar, a place where George had been as part of his HMS Kingfisher tour liberating African slaves. The bewildering notion of the tale spins on an axis of ritual and tradition, questions unanswered. Seers amongst her meticulous foray comes face to face with the scrawl of her Great Great Uncle emblazoned on a baobab tree on the island of Misali 'GE' and the word 'Kingfisher', this at first a dream becomes reality thus re-spinning the axis a-new.
As the investigation is laid out, the table of the present shifts, the map too large to be held by the structures enforced to keep it in place. Seers ideologies question how far we can account for the demands or confines of categorising something as 'past' 'present' or indeed 'future'. A future voice bends into the viewers headphones and side steps from the female narrative. Also called George – the tones are neither male nor female, the voice speaks of a time when photography is extinct misanthropically reminding the viewer of the precious relationship we have to documentation. In one dimensions the voice halts Seers in her tracks and strips George Edwards and his wife of their mystique, in others the voice awards them for their ability to still conduct the artist now from the graves of the past. Seers historical accounts are always illustrious and opulent with knowledge, links of surprising connectivity reminding the viewer of the claustrophobia of the past, yet the viewer comes away feeling those aching gaps that only history and the unknown of the future can render, gaps which try as we may time will always control.
Sophie Risner is a freelance art writer and critic living in London. "I am less art critic and more art writer - I find the idea of critiquing art through writing difficult in a purely formalist fashion. I often lean towards the difficulty of language as a way into the inherent difficulty of art. Embracing all aspects which observe and inspire artist practice as a way to create a more fruitful and less didactic approach."view all articles from this author