GHOST/HOST: Myth and Reality of the American Western Homestead is the latest exhibition at Southampton Solent University’s Showcase gallery. Running between 28 April and 18 June 2016 it looks into the historical facts, myths and mediation of the early US settlers in the American West.
As a part of an ongoing research project by one of Solent Senior Lecturers and photographer Sarah Dryden, the work explores the disparity between fictionalised depictions of the homestead in the Western States of the US and the realities first generations of settlers had to face in relation to climate, geography, elevation, materials, design and construction methods.
The town of Bodie is one of five sites that got investigated in the framework of research. Said to be the most notorious of the California Ghost Towns with tales of gold digging, shootings and a narrative that any Wild West cowboy film would be proud of, Bodie has been recently used as a tourist destination, a museum site, a film set, advertising and music video backdrop – not to mention its direct links with Clint Eastwood’s fictional town of Lago in the film High Plains Drifter.
This exhibition also draws on the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe’s Ghost Host – which was recently reconstructed within Disney’s Haunted Mansion – and Victor Burgin’s Situational Aesthetics that looks to the built environment as a theatre of wishes and fears past, present and future, and the haunting of an environment by history, memory and fantasy. Sarah Dryden is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Art, Design and Fashion at Southampton Solent University.
GHOST/HOST: Myth and Reality of the American Western Homestead is based in Solent Showcase– the first major addition to Southampton’s emerging cultural quarter and is situated on the new city square, near the Civic Centre and the City Art Gallery.
Solent Showcase features contemporary visual art that encourages engagement, discussion and participation with the whole community. The creation of Solent Showcase coincided with the expansion of the art courses at the University, generating a new era of visual creativity at Solent.
Solent Showcase supports up-and-coming artists to provide examples of the best contemporary art, inspiring both students and a wider audience. It embraces the idea of cross-disciplinary collaboration to highlight the creative talents of the University, contemporary ideas and seeking to engage the widest possible audience.