The Browning of Britannia

.. so my last post was about conspiracy – yeah, and it felt the last days as indeed there was one: an extraordinary amount of work came together with disasterous computing experiences. Not only my computer broke down now already like 2 weeks ago, also other machines I had to work with stopped responding in a reasonable way. So indeed one could get paranoid about one’s influence to the machines: .. do they suddenly react to my persona or is it just a question of perception? After all they are machines, but surely sensitive ones …

Ok, let’s return to the culturally based questions of identity:

The Browning of Britannia is a major new BFI commission that explores questions of truth and self-perception. An intriguing and controversial hall of mirrors, it continues and develops artist Faisal Abdu’Allah’s investigation of cultural identity.
The story was first brought to Abdu’Allah’s attention by Ago’s ‘power of attorney’, who was steadfastly convinced that ‘His Royal Highness’ Ago is a direct descendant of King Edward VIII. Today, after having led a lavish lifestyle in London in the ’80s, Ago is penniless and lives in a modest council flat.

Ago Piero Ajano’s life in many ways exemplifies Abdu’Allah’s concerns with ideas of truth and fiction, present in his previous work, with his aim to challenge authority. The commission has allowed the artist to develop his work through the use of the moving image, and to collaborate with Big Hug Ltd, an award winning production company which aims to portray the lives and experiences of black people in the UK.

The installation offers Ago the opportunity to tell the story of who he was, and who he has become. His tale of a lost fortune and an uncertain lineage is narrated by the man himself, illustrated by documents and photographs from his past, fleshed out through conversations with friends and acquaintances from his heyday, and constructing a complex story with questions of truth at its core.

The Browning of Britannia portrays the subject in a sculptural and poetic manner; a multifaceted account of a life which defies logic and challenges knowledge and truth

currently the installation runs in the Gallery at BFI Southbank from 14 February until 18 May 2008.

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