about the work
Twenty-One is a video installation piece that explores nostalgia and melancholy through impressionistic imagery, archival material and self-portraiture. Using layered pieces of footage, this piece expresses an apprehension towards growing up and coming of age. Essentially, it’s an ode to childhood, nostalgia and the generation of millennials.
At first considering this to be somewhat of an abstract self-portrait of identity, I started to become fixated on the idea of dens and bedroom culture and what these spaces meant to me. Tracey Emin, Molly Soda and Sian Lincoln’s essays helped to inform me but I couldn’t get past the idea of ‘comfort’, manic pixies and a Sofia Coppola vision of eternal girlhood. Influenced by Natasha Walter’s writing, I found I didn’t want to play into the problematic glamourizing and sexualising of youth. Instead wanting to create something that was more emotive.
As I wanted to keep the authenticity of my experience, the dream-like girlhood aesthetics and colour palette stayed but the piece evolved into a work that began to speak more deeply about apprehension. Finding solidarity within Elena Montemurro’s work, this anxiety became focused on growing up. Looking further into a mixture of self-portraiture and video work, specifically that of Francesca Woodman, Candice Breitz and Egon Schiele, as well as impressionist paintings and my own archives, I found myself compiling clips of video, romantic in their imagery but jittery in nature. I was progressively becoming frustrated with using photography as a medium as it felt too static to fully express the complexity of melancholy, so I started to exclusively work with video as I found myself relating to it more.
Risking a danger of being gimmicky and too saccharine, the piece will be displayed on a 90s TV set. The work’s purpose is to gently evoke a sense of nostalgia, allowing viewers to reflect on their own childhoods whilst watching mine. With the encouragement of quite sensitive and heavy emotions, as an artist, there is also some responsibility to look after an audience too; this is the purpose of the accompanying assortment of stools and cushions in front of the set. I want viewers to sit with the piece, actively mimicking childhood memories of being sat in front of the TV, favouring instant subliminal nostalgia.
In a sense, Twenty-One is a byproduct of the uncertainty of our futures. We live in a time that’s dictated by terrorist attacks, collapsed economies, student debt and fluctuating house prices and job prospects. As a generation that is said to have more of a global sense of community than any other, it’s hardly surprising that our defence mechanism goes 180 degrees and we start looking back.
about the artist
Brontë Cordes is an artist and recent Photography Graduate from Coventry University. Using a mixture of video and photography, her work explores emotional realities and often plays with the notions of nostalgia and melancholy. Tying together ideas about memory, femininity and cultural history, her work has a dream-like quality to it that’s rooted in her interest in impressionist romanticism. Having shown as part of Insite CU at Free Range Shows in 2016, she’s continuing to create work as well as carrying on her study, specialising in curation.