Phoebe Cunningham uses film production as a way to explore how mainstream politicians are presented and understood. Recent events have shown how stories, circulating through the internet’s many niche and popular platforms, have begun to seep into political mainstream news, gaining credibility offline.
In her video installation I am one with the people, Cunningham explores how this phenomenon is creating a battle for the ‘ownership’ of political figures, who become ‘public characters’ which anyone can manipulate or ‘spin’. Repurposing film scripts from popular culture, Cunningham creates new fictional characters, playing the spin doctor herself. Employing actors and making her methods of production visible, she shows the challenges facing those who attempt to maintain control of the image of political figures, and asks how artists, as producers of images, contribute to the stories being thrown into the world.
A particular interest of this work is how the presentation and reception of the political figure changes with gender. On two identical screens a man and woman each stand, at identical podiums, in front of the same presidential blue cloth drapes and at times, speaking very similar words. Given the similarity of the material, the work draws our attention to the factors that affect whether we view a performance as credible.
Please note this venue is upstairs, with no lift. The work is approx 10 minutes long on a loop. Visit at any point during opening times. Thanks to performers Mike Kelson and Taryn Kay.