Site Gallery

The latest exhibition in Site Gallery, Re-, is a selection of video works based around the idea of reinterpreting historical and/or filmic events. The work in the show often looks at sections which often go unnoticed in films or discovering more about the background in which the film was based.

The setup of the exhibition was simple, if a little dull and generic for a video-based show, but it provided the works with enough space to not compete with each other and therefore allowing the work to be viewed at its strongest in a gallery situation.

T.R Uthco & Ant Farm's 1975 video ‘The Eternal Flame', is an artistic recreation of the infamous film of JFK being killed in his motorcade in Dallas. This is joined with a fake Presidential television broadcast which talks about how one is a product of media manipulation from the moment he appears on television. By using television as a tool, the president becomes more of a personality than a politician, and in death, the media sends him to martyrdom. The artist plays on this by acting out the death scene in several different locations with different angles, and by speaking from the point of view of hindsight, knowing his fate.

In Omer Fast's two-screen video piece, ‘Spielberg's List', the artist speaks to Polish extras about their experiences of making the film and how it has affected their lives since the films release. It talks about historical places which aren't existent other than in the film, and how easy it is to misconstrue one of the other.

Both works are fascinating in the way they re-interpret and reveal different sides of their source material, but both in a fresh way which is seemingly always going to be relevant. In ‘The Eternal Flame', the source has been lodged into the minds of many people and can be seen as a comment on that, but more importantly, it is asking the question of what role a television and the media should have on politics.

With ‘Spielberg's List', we are forced to take into consideration the aspects of film making we don't think about when we sit down to relax and watch a film. Especially when filming in a poor country, the effect a big budget film will have on the local community is immense. The locals talk about how they have taken advantage of the tourism that's been produced by the film, but also how during the filming, they felt that without the knowledge of Spielberg, they were too taken advantage of.

This small exhibition, which also includes work by Johanna Billing and Clemens von Wedemeyer, is surprisingly successful in raising a number of issues about media intervention and how history is created on the small screen, while showing the importance of re-interpreting and remaking old works and is worth going to if you have the time to immerse yourself in the work.

Samuel Mercer is an artist and film-maker based in the U.K.