Identity and Narration: The Unfinished Conversation

As mentioned in class, The Unfinished Conversation – the installation on which The Stuart Hall Project (2014) is based – is now being shown at The Power Plant Gallery at Harbourfront in Toronto. In line with the theme of this unit of the course, the description of the show is as follow:

The curatorial premise of this exhibition is grounded in the work of cultural theorist Stuart Hall (1932-2014), who devoted his life to studying the interweaving threads of culture, power, politics and history.

Taking Hall’s essay Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse as a point of departure, viewers will be invited to think about how meaning is constructed; how it is systematically distorted by audience reception and how it can be detached and drained of its original intent to produce specific or slanted narratives.

Hall’s interdisciplinary approach drew on literary theory, linguistics, and cultural anthropology in order to analyse and articulate the relationship between history, culture, popular media, cold war politics, gender and ethnicity. By presenting the work of artists who bring into play time, memory and archives so as to construct new readings of the past, the exhibition will lay emphasis on the idea that the “visual” is an assimilatory process continuously at work in the construction of cultural, political, personal and national identities.

The exhibit include a number of excellent pieces that incorporate video, audio, and images to examine the complexity of identity in the age of global mobility, state surveillance, political unrest. While the focus of the show looks to the history of how we have narrated our sense of self and identity, the questions it asks still demand our urgent attention in the present.

So, if you’re interested in alternative uses of media to narrate identity, this is an excellent opportunity to experience an extremely worthwhile exhibition.

A still of The Unfinished Conversation on now at The Power Plant.

A still of The Unfinished Conversation on now at The Power Plant.