Professor Ian Christie (Film historian, Curator and Broadcaster, Birkbeck University of London) and Ruth Maclennan
Tuesday 18th October 2016, 4pm
James Hockey Gallery
Followed by reception
The Faces They Have Vanished is a work comprising photographs, text, video and a new publication, which draw on the artist’s experiences travelling in Crimea, and those of artists and poets who travelled there before her. Two decades of capitalism and kleptocratic rule are just the latest strata of experiences to be written across this palimpsest, or what Neal Ascherson refers to in his book,The Black Sea, as ‘the birthplace of civilization and barbarism’. First shown in 2013, prior to Crimea’s annexation by Russia, Maclennan’s work assumes a new resonance, as the history of the peninsula is rewritten once again.
Maclennan’s work begins with her encounter with a place—a neighbourhood of London, a coastal village in the Russian Arctic, a ruined railway station in a desert. Her single and multi-channel video installations focus on overlooked moments, material remains and fragments of stories that reveal unresolved conflict and suppressed realities.
The film, Theodosia, is the central component of this exhibition and observes and reflects on relations between a people and a place, between a person and the earth on which she or he walks, and the physical and emotional conditions of exile. It also questions the role of the camera itself: the relations it sets up between viewers and viewed and the illusion of the image of a place as a reliable document.
The Faces They Have Vanished also includes a series of evocative photographs taken in Crimea, accompanied by a wall text, Extinct Crimean Tartar Villages, a list of all the names of the Tartar villages in Crimea which were destroyed in 1945, after the exile of Crimean Tartars. Together these works also function, like Maclennan’s film, as fragments and ‘evidence’ of the relations between the past and the present.
The exhibition is accompanied by a new limited edition book work Theodosia, which includes Maclennan’s script from Theodosia as well as a Coda in which she reflects on the making of the work.
Ruth Maclennan was supported by a Joanna Drew Travel award, the AHRC and the Royal College of Art.
Above Image Credit:
C-type digital photograph
Image Credit: Steve White