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Stranger than Known; South Home Town by Steve Hawley. Installation at Southampton Showcase Dec 2014.
The Southampton of the imagination is known more for those who have left the city than those who stay. The beautiful medieval city has been largely erased by the terrible bombings of World War II; the romance and drama of the flying boats of Imperial Airways, not to mention the Mayflower and Titanic, were about transit, about departures and fugue, the flight from the familiar, and not the city’s people who were left behind.
In the fiftieth year of Southampton’s incarnation as a city, this video installation seeks to interrogate the uniqueness and spirit of this south home town. Drawing from the city symphonies of the 1920s, which used new film techniques to examine the city in the modern world, and through wayfaring its streets and shorelines, the exhibition looks at the shifting identity of the port and its people.
Using ultra slow motion video and unique film of Southampton soldiers addressing their far off families seventy years ago at the Classic Cinema, Above Bar, the work addresses the question, what is home? Drifting through the city streets, layers of meaning as well as layers of real and imagined places show through the everyday, the mediaeval glimpsed dimly beneath the skin of the twenty-first century. Voices speak to us from the past; it is in these liminal spaces of borderline and uncertainty, of shorelines and pavements, that we begin to make out the myth of our own place.