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Crusade

Keith Piper
2004

Video Installation

Crusade

'Crusade' was a solo multimedia exhibition which emerged from a process of site specific research into the history of the city of St Louis.

In response to a paper delivered to the conference 'Shades of Black' at Duke University in 2001, Piper was approached by Shannon Fitzgerald, Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis, to develop a project. Piper subsequently engaged in a series of research visits to St Louis. Exploring local archive material in the light of post colonial theory and the semiology of local public monumental sculpture, Piper began to examine a set of conceptual relationships linking the founding of St Louis (1763), its position in the wake of the 'Louisiana Purchase' (1803), and its site as a key location in the growing conflict between North and South within the Dred Scott' case (1857). Using these historical strands, Piper proposed a reading of St Louis as a site of symbolic tensions between the 'known' and the 'other'.

These themes were integrated into a series of multichannel animated video collages presented across high definition plasma screens. Specific technical research was conducted in collaboration with local specialists around the streaming of high definition video within a gallery setting.

"Chilly Water", another installation within the exhibition, evoked the memory of Dred Scott (1799-1858) through the exploration of narratives of slave escape. This installation utilised Piper's technical research funded through an Arts Council 'Decibel' award (2004) into the use of computers to randomly assemble visual and narrative sequences in real time within the gallery space.

A Public Lecture was held as a part of this exhibition in along with the publication of an illustrated gallery guide including essay by the artist. This research was also presented as a conference paper at the Raphael Samuel Memorial Event 2004, Conway Hall, London.

Installation with multiple high-definition monitors

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