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Living History

Like the Paul Hamlyn Awards, for a while it felt like we made a proposal to Becks Futures every year for a while - never successfully! Just to prove we never give up on an idea here's one of the suggestion we put forward in 2003 ...

Living History (working title)
Becks Futures proposal 2003

We are proposing to spend time participating in two diverse period re-enactment groups (probably WWW II and medieval) as both live art and R & D - working in collaboration with comedy writers Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina who we developed and produced Pope & Guthrie's Recommended Dose with.
The artists and writers will, true to re-enactment protocol, act as their period counterparts whilst with these groups. This will require research into the activity of being an artist or writer from that period, the acquisition of the necessary skills (and acting skills!) and the playing of these roles in real re-enactments.
In the long term, the project will probably come to fruition in a single screen hybrid of documentary/comedy, but the period of live improvisation will precede this spanning the period of Beck's Futures.

Possible Beck's Futures Presentations:
We will utilise our research to produce an exhibition or event for Beck's, which is specifically designed for both the gallery context and for the primary audience of the re-enactment groups themselves. As these groups are spread across the UK it will be possible to source a number closest to each gallery and work with them on the particular format for each venue. Possible outcomes could encompass a period encampment in the gallery or in the spirit of re-enactment; we could use the situation to enhance our roles as both participant and subject of the re-enactment. With this in mind we would use the gallery as a 'period' context producing an exhibit, reflecting a group's particular period and our 'characters' within this -i.e. An exhibit produced by us in character as artists of the period:

Our exhibits will be the results of our labours as 're-enactment' artists - therefore an appropriate format might be a large-scale wall painting or tapestry (medieval) or a series of on-site realist drawings or etchings (WW II).

The subject of the artworks could be our interactions to date with the groups - almost a storyboard for the eventual video piece - using the collaboration of the writers to shape the narrative (e.g. a 'bayeaux tapestry' style sequence of depictions). The re-enactment groups who view the pieces may want to discuss the veracity of the depictions or the authenticity of our technical expertise.

The local re-enactment groups will be invited to attend viewings (in costume) of the exhibits, and have the opportunity to convey their opinions in a discussion with the artists (in costume). These events will happen in gallery hours and be open to the public, for whom the event may be viewed as a performance.

If a tapestry or needlework piece is instigated we may invite re-enactors to participate in the production - this could occur live during the exhibition.

Background detail:
Working with the idea of re-enactment relates to the focus on both 'audience' and 'collaboration' throughout our work. A trend in our practice has been to identify and work with amateur or hobbyist groups (e.g. dressmakers for Home-made Heroes or Hospital Radio staff for Pope and Guthrie's Recommended Dose) which re-enactment groups can be seen to fall within. The 'audience' at re-enactments are in fact also the collaborative live 'performers' and 'subject' of the event, which in live art a practitioner can identify with. From our earlier work with the writers Rusling & Messina, we also found many shared approaches and concerns within our practices, which improvisation and documentary filming seemed to form a 'bridge' for.