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Emily McFarland

The Complex Seer

20 May – 8 July 2017

Emily McFarland: The Complex Seer

Emily McFarland’s presentation at CCA is titled after an essay by Martin Walsh that explores the relationship between film and German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s theories and works. The Complex Seer features a video installation that draws upon footage from a range of films including the cult movie Zabriskie Point, the fiction/documentary Ice, and La Chinoise, one of French-Swiss New Wave director Jean-Luc Goddard’s most political works. These films were produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s at a time when countercultural activity dominated the media and political landscape. In different ways they portray groups of radical students and young people who conspire to affect the upheaval of mainstream society. The works in The Complex Seer use this imagery as a way to recode the cinematic conventions of depicting revolutionary action and investigate the spaces in which these actions are collectively planned and formalised.

The installation makes reference to avant-garde architectural spaces by incorporating a digital print that depicts details in artist, designer, and architect El Lissitzky’s Cabinet of Abstraction (1927-28), a changeable room/artwork designed to house abstract art within a museum. Modular flat-pack shelving contains a cassette player and collection of hand made tapes with recordings of live concerts by the American countercultural rock band The Grateful Dead, sourced by the artist from the torrent site Pirate Bay. Originally collected by fan, ‘taper’, and later official Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latvala, the cassettes included in The Complex Seer draws parallels between the subcultural Grateful Dead analogue ‘taper’ bootlegging community and the activity of ‘plugging-in’ to contemporary collective online file sharing networks.

During the run of the exhibition, the artist will use the installation at CCA as a modifiable set in which new scenes for a project currently in development will be filmed.

The Complex Seer is presented alongside Basic Communities / Soft People, an exhibition by work by Philipp Kremer. Both exhibitions will run simultaneously until 8th July 2017.


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Emily McFarland: The Complex Seer
Emily McFarland: The Complex Seer
Emily McFarland: The Complex Seer
Emily McFarland: The Complex Seer