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A Period Drama

A Period Drama

Research centre
Art and Design Research Centre

Date
2013

This paper explores the significance of place and context within the realm of contemporary art practice

This paper explores the significance of place and context within the realm of contemporary art practice. Unexpected discoveries made during a two-month residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2008 focused on ‘mistaken place-making’, resulting in the proposal of an installation set within the grounds of YSP.

Ken Russell’s film, ‘Women in Love’ (1969), attracts special attention in this paper and installation proposal as the famous naked wrestling scene was wrongly attributed to have been shot on location at Bretton Hall, now home to YSP but was filmed at Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. During Sneddon's YSP residency, he came across this fact and created a site-specific artwork, ‘Period Drama,’ to be shown within the grounds but was denied the opportunity. His proposed exhibition upset the institution's belief that the famous scene had been filmed at Bretton, a belief ferociously protected and cultivated for some forty-years that forms much of their historical narrative. The film was first screened with an accompanying paper, ‘Two Naked men and an open fire’, at the Transmission Hospitality Conference 2010.

'A Period Drama' expands upon this enquiry and rethinks place within both social geography and art practice, which gives rise to an understanding of place as a mutable concept. David Harvey in his essay, Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference, addresses changing issues of heritage suggesting: ‘those who reside in a place … become acutely aware that they are in competition with other places for highly mobile capital'. Places therefore differentiate themselves from other places and become more competitive, perhaps antagonistic and exclusionary with respect to each other in order to capture or retain capital investment. While the film ‘A Period Drama’ acted as catalyst to reveal contested cultural ownership, the paper provides a platform to explore the wider significance of this conflict between practice and context.

Researchers involved

Andrew Sneddon - Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Fine Art and course leader for BA (Hons) Creative Art Practices

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