30.6.08

Ruinous Recollections > Reflections

Dirk Bogarde

Post ‘Ruinous Recollections’ preview at Upper Space Gallery I have been reflecting on the way the work outlined below functioned within an exhibition context. During the opening I found myself introducing the work, each piece became an illustrative tool to illuminate the story of Alan Turing and the symbolism of the apple. Many but not all of the people attending the exhibition had heard of Alan Turing, so I found myself as storyteller, explaining the legacy of Turing and his importance to history. One fascinating aspect of the proceedings was the level at which Turing features in local urban legend. Many were aware of the statue in Sackville Gardens but were vague about the specificities of its meaning, I attempted to reveal as much about what I've learned of Turing as possible to as many people as possible and throughout this process I found myself repeating the same phrases and seeing similar expressions on the faces of the audience. Most where fascinated by the association with the Apple-Mac logo and its link with Alan Turings suicide, as I was. Most like me appeared to be intrigued by the symbolism of the apple throughout history. It occurs to that there is an association between the symbolism of the apple in this case and the propensity for urban legend in oral histories.

So as with The Pansy Project which explores the symbolism of the pansy and its ability to instigate discussion on homophobia, I seem to be adopting similar strategies with the apple and the Alan Turing narrative. This strategy is accompanied by an oral contribution, where the symbolism is used to illustrate and explain. This performative element within my work is apparently an intrinsic component. This ‘work in progress’ show has clarified for me the need to place the apples over the statue of Alan Turing, and the necessity for me to be on hand to explain the project to the passerby.

Perhaps most profoundly for me, I seem drawn to acting as ambassador for Alan Turing, as I do for the experience of homophobia with The Pansy Project. I tended to correct some of the misconceptions about his story. I was keen to emphasis his openness about his sexuality despite the illegality of this at the time. I referenced some of the humour in his letters included in Andrew Hodges book. Apparently my main drive was to depict the man as a complex and positive figure in history despite the tragedy of his story. On this point I am reminded of Richard Dyer’s book ‘The Culture of Queers’, in the chapter ‘Coming Out as Going in’ – The Image of the Homosexual as Sad Young Man’ Dyer explores the propensity for culture to present gay men as tragic figures, from fifties film stars such as Dirk Bogarde (top) and Montgomery Clift to the 19th Century Romantic Poets. On this I am inclined to focus on Alan Turing as tragic figure verses scientific genius and the link this has with the ideology of the struggling artist and the many contemporary versions of gayness. My research continues.

click on the book cover for more information on this book.

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