Turner-prize nominated artists Jane and Louise Wilson, sisters from the North East are exhibiting Undead Sun: We Put the World Before You, a display of two video installations at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), one of the UK’s leading galleries for modern and contemporary art and craft.
The artistic duo are known for working with film, video and photography to explore the politics, architecture and technology of conflict, the artists frequently engage in research with academics and other specialists.
The exhibition includes two large-scale video installations; Undead Sun (2014) and work specially created for this occasion, titled Undead Sun, We Put the World Before You (2016). As the centenary commemorations of the 1914-1918 First World War continues, the exhibition centres on the continued influence of the technological and social products of that era which continue to shape contemporary life.
The first piece scrutinizes the relationship between the psychological and physical trauma of battle and advancements in technology. Situated at the moment where aerial reconnaissance begins, it imagines the shift in surveillance from the ground to air, the new forms of power that arise from this, and the ensuing need for advanced camouflage.
The artists weave together archival footage, animation and sections of new footage around the structuring device of sections from British writer Tom McCarthy’s 2010 novel ‘C’. A recurring motif of rotating propellers evokes both aerial warfare and the wind tunnel, which becomes a metaphor for the passing of time and ultimately the futility of war.
Working closely with Professor Iain Hutchison (a practicing surgeon specialising in facial reconstruction), and Professor Caroline Wilkinson (a forensic anthropologist who uses computer techniques to restore facial likenesses to people who have remained invisible or gone unrepresented), Jane and Louise have made a collage of newly filmed and historical material.
The video scrutinises the relationship between the psychological and physical trauma of the First World War and advancements in technology. It looks at the early development of prosthetics which were used during and after the First World War to aid scars left by the conflict. The video goes onto investigate the connection between these procedures and current facial imaging techniques and reconstructive surgery.
Senior Curator Elinor Morgan said, “We are delighted to be working with such eminent British artists whose roots are in the North East. The work presents challenging topics such as the emotional cost of conflict and the high financial investment in armaments. These subjects remain as relevant today as they were 100 years ago. Teesside’s long history of recruitment to the armed forces and the chemicals industry, which has been situated here – and initially arose from the First World War – give this exhibition further local relevance.”
The pair studied together for an MA at Goldsmiths’ College, now Goldsmiths, University of London and since then, have worked for over two decades as part of an artistic collaboration gaining national and international recognition. They are known as artists who work with photography and the moving image and installation in an expanded form of cinema and lens based media.
This exhibition forms the second stage in a three-part project. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, for Imperial War Museum in partnership with mima, Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England. With special thanks to Artliner.
The exhibition starts on Saturday 1 October 2016 and runs until 15 January 2017. Further details can be found at www.visitmima.com and on Facebook /visitmima and Twitter and Instagram @mimamodernart.