It Has To Be This Way

Lindsay SeersM. Anthony Penwill


Book, 12.9 x 19.7 cm, 126 p, language: English, publisher: Matt's Gallery, London, ISBN: 978 0 907623 64 9.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2024/780).

Literary synopsis

It Has To Be This Way is a work about multiplicity. Voices and places proliferate as the narrative becomes decentred and spreads across time and space; literally, through the installation of the work, but also in its form and content. Differing viewpoints and testimonies shift the fulcrum of interpretation as characters both living and dead act through one another. The work takes us on several journeys by treating history as something that is not fixed but continually reconfigured in the present. There is no clear distinction between personal history and wider historical truths in the work. Following chains of associations and chance encounters, everything seems connected but meaning is never resolved; it exists in flux somewhere between the fragments. From a tangle of manuscripts, research notes and a fateful box of photographs, artist Lindsay Seers tries to make sense of her step-sister’s strange and desperate variant of Tarot, in which photographs become a means of divination. Her search for her missing sibling takes her to the Vatican Library in Rome, where Queen Christina of Sweden's manuscripts may hold the key to Christine’s mysterious disappearance to Uppsala in Sweden. As the photographs are translated through both an excess and a lack of memory, the characters who interpret them move fluidly across interlocking histories. The photographs themselves become destabilised by their shifting context and the interpretative nuances of their users. Christine’s fate hangs on the exegetical battle between two narrators, locked in a struggle for the truth of the photographs, but in the end it is photographic truth itself that is at stake.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The books are an integral part of the exhibition It Has To Be This Way and were distributed free of charge in the gallery space. The books are not ancillary to the exhibition but an element of a system in which the exhibited parts are co-dependent. The book, building and film are generated from a system whereby a series of photographs are chosen from a collection of the artist and her family by protagonists who themselves were selected by the artist on the finding of a dead bee. These images form the narrative structure of the film and book and the installation. Everything is entwined but the novel which would be read after the exhibition in a different place/time inevitably calls on and alters the memory of the film's narrative.

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