Shona Macnaughton

shonalesley (at) gmail (dot) com

When slaves love one another, it’s not love (2014)

Co-commission for Talbot Rice Gallery and Edinburgh Art Festival and exhibited as part of the group exhibition Counterpoint at Talbot Rice Gallery 1 August – 18 October 2014.

‘When slaves love one another, it’s not love’ 2014, 3 screen digital video, 22 mins.

This video is situated in a digital architectural model of Edinburgh University’s Old College built from the original architect’s plans. The narrative is a re-working of the play ‘The Maids’ by Jean Genet, where the maids are replaced by downloadable 3D files of female models found on the website Turbosquid.comand the setting, instead of a bourgeois 1950s house, is a University classroom. The maids have become ‘philosophical zombies’ and are part of an intellectual experiment by Madame the Professor, played by the artist. In the original play the script follows the maids’ hysterical games when their ‘Madame’ is out of the house. Slipping in and out of character, dressing up in her clothes and playing with her possessions they oscillate between make believe and a dangerous reality, plotting her ultimately impossible murder. The work examines what happens to the 1950s class relation within the play when you replace the human maids with contemporary simulated human digital files. Madame the Professor is more aware of her precarious mortality than her lady of the house predecessor and aims to emulate their conditions herself. They end up both existing between states of materiality and immateriality, where the attempt at her life would kill them all.

A 3D visualisation of the Talbot Rice Gallery based on the original architectural plans of the space when it was intended as a Natural Philosophy lecture room, but keeping the white walls and wooden floors of the current gallery interior. Built and designed by Benjamin Fallon.

  • portrait
  • plan room
  • con tab
  • close up plan tab
  • close up con tab
  • 3screen
  • 3 screen2