- Part of...AL and AL: Eternal Youth
- Gallery 1
Embarking on their new commission with FACT, AL and AL chose to move to Liverpool throughout production in order to make a work that truly responded to the social and cultural energy of the city. Their residency, made possible through the generous support of Metal, has been based at Edge Hill train station in Kensington, the first passenger train station in the world and departure point of Stephenson's Rocket. Once an affluent gateway into the city, the station now sits within a primary regeneration zone.
AL and AL have been interested in the significant moment of history that Edge Hill station represents: the moment that enabled the movement of people through high speed travel and how this changed our perception of time and space.
Having just moved to Liverpool, AL and AL suffered a devastating robbery of their entire studio, including the theft of all their original artworks and production equipment. Seeing this as a curious departure point from which to consider notions of 'the original' and the socio-political challenges of a city undergoing a radical process of regeneration, AL and AL have gone on to produce their most challenging work to date.
Eternal Youth charts the murder of a superstar, the desire to be immortal and how the technology of mediation on one hand gives us greater power, but on the other leaves us open to manipulation. Using the defining characteristics of the special effects movie genre, the piece explores writer Norman Klein's observation that those who have the power can control and produce the spectacle of 'scripted space'.
The piece is laden with references to the killing and legacy of one of Liverpool's most famous sons, cultural icon John Lennon. The video installation is itself a deconstruction of cinematic experience, and presents a complex narrative around a fictional Scouse singer, Winston Glory (played by Liverpool born and based artist Philip McHugh). Accompanied by his spirit guide Karson Hive, Winston Glory undertakes a journey through the underworld to confront his assassin and seek redemption.
Commissioned for Liverpool's 2008 Capital of Culture year, the work refers to a city undergoing its own re-birth while grappling with the dominant legacies of its heritage. But Eternal Youth is also a story of anonymous youth and the technology ofmediation. Like Mark Chapman, who shot Lennon in 1981, Winston Glory's assassin is obsessed with his hero. Both stories share a link with the protagonist in J.D. Salinger's book The Catcher in the Rye, and both assassins' killing of a legend would guarantee their own fame through the ensuing global media attention, instantly transcending their image from obscurity to immortality.