Story of elsewhere : not these people, not this place

Barnet, SE (2012) Story of elsewhere : not these people, not this place. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


'Story of elsewhere' is made up of a number of interlinking parts, namely: a text component, a series of video interviews, an exhibition (also described as the thesis statement) 'Story of elsewhere' at the Stanley Picker Gallery in February of 2011, the book, 'Large Landscape', included in the Picker Gallery exhibition, and additional exhibition based materials a poster and a catalogue. All of these components of the work are linked and, together, act as remediations of the narrative of the work, its genesis, realization and its forms of expression. The central aspect of the exhibition is a series of video interviews that relate a number of stories - of elsewhere. 'Large Landscape' consists of a series of interlocking pieces that transforms hand written diary accounts into fiction, thoughts written at the time of realizing the work, notes about the making of the work, the intertwining of literary reference with imaginative interpretation, and anecdotal accounts - some of which are developed into detailed reportage. In addressing this multiplicity of narrative form, comparisons are made between the act of reading and that of writing, between seeing and hearing, between thinbking and feeling, between fact and fiction, between dreams and reality, between stranger and native, and between place and individual. In the exhibition there is an interpretative authorlal voice re-presenting what is heard with what is read, a shift between what is spoken of and what is portrayed. In 'Large Landscape', the process of reading takes the form of a written description of events. This array of formats is employed throughout to suggest the pervasive quality of narrative across experience. Plans of the future, recorded occurrences of the past, and compositions of the present are evoked through prose, scripting, description, memoir, folklore, commentary, and imagery. The methodology of collecting all this information ranges from interview to fabrication, from observation to intervention, and from complex engagement to simple expression. Within the framework of contemporary art practice and theory, 'Story of elsewhere' proposes distancing as a means of drawing nearer. Presenting the paradox of the idea that remoteness can produce proximity, a process is revealed that exposes previously hidden connections and associations - to oneself, to a place, and to another. This process, employing the language of memory, allows for a defamiliarization where new understandings emerge. My aim is to explore ever-shifting understandings of place, to offer an examination of the experience of witnessing place, to unpack the complications of subjective experience through the re-telling of remembered occurrences, memories that manifest through stories and that engage the interplay and paradox of language and naming, and to consider the inherent connections within memory of associations between the conscious and the unconscious. The connections between the different forms of the work: prose, scripting, description, memoir, folklore, commentary, and moving imagery, all interact to produce a subconscious cross-referencing. This mirrors the world we now inhabit with a place and complexity where this kind of multiple mediation of internet, TV, text, video, film etc., is pervasive and in a sense inescapable. Referencing becomes chaotic - we each find a way of navigating these elements in tandem or we select particular forms of mediation that align with how we connect and identify ourselves with others and with place. 'Story of elsewhere' seeks to address questions surrounding the place of individual experience in our complexly interrelated world, where place and images of places carry an overabundance of meanings. If the contemporary world is one where the fluid nature of individual memories easily overlaps with cultural memories, how do we come to know each other and ourselves in this landscape? In engaging with 'Story of elsewhere' it is my ambition that the viewer might answer such questions - to explore new ideas concerning self-knowledge, learned knowledge and knowledge that is sponsored by experiencing seemingly unconnected narratives, presented in multiples forms, in an investigation of place and association.

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