Anja Kirschner & David Panos
The Last Days of Jack Sheppard, 2009
We cordially invite you to the film and installation The Last Days of Jack Sheppard by Anja Kirschner and David Panos at the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe. At the center of the exhibition, presented for the first time in Germany, is the projection of the film, complemented by sculptural elements from the original film set, as well as by archive material in the form of prints, drawings, posters and books.
The Last Days of Jack Sheppard tells the story of the thief Jack Sheppard (1702-1724), who kept 18th century London spellbound with his criminal deeds and jail-breaks. Already some years after his death by hanging in 1724, his biography became a model for the character of Macheath in The Beggar's Opera that, in turn, Bertolt Brecht adapted in his 1928 Three Penny Opera. In their re-staging of the historical material, Kirschner and Panos focus on the inferred prison encounters between Sheppard and Daniel Defoe, the probable ghostwriter of Sheppard's 'autobiography'. The film is given its up-to-date explosiveness through its present-day parallel to Great Britain's first recorded financial crisis in the year 1720, the so-called South Sea Bubble, the background against which Sheppard's life was played out.
Kirschner's and Panos' critical costume film is put together from a patchwork of historical, literary and popular sources and explores the links between representation, speculation and the discourses of high and low culture, themes already evolving in the 18th century that remain relevant to this day.
The narrative opposes a linear sequence of history; the events jump back and forth between the months of the year 1724 and current references to pop music, lifestyle and fashion are integrated in the film.
By including elements from the film set, as well as reference and source materials, the artistic process is visible in the exhibition. This conscious display of the film's underlying structure plays with the idea of a historical reconstruction and underlines the necessarily subjective character of historical presentations. Instead Kirschner and Panos offer an updated interpretation of the countless political, social and cultural references.
The Last Days of Jack Sheppard was commissioned this year by the Chisenhale Gallery in London and the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow. The archive materials are on loan from the private collector Peter Ross, London.
ANJA KIRSCHNER (*1977, Munich) and DAVID PANOS (*1971, Athens) live and work in London.
Exhibitions and Screenings (selection):
CCA, Glasgow: Kölnischer Kunstverein; 2nd Athens Biennale, Athen; Chisenhale Gallery, London; East End Film Festival, London;
Transmission Gallery, Glasgow; ICA, London; Art Basel; Tate Modern, London; NAi, Rotterdam;
Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen;
Whitechapel Project Space, London; Jet, Berlin.
Anja Kirschner and David Panos have been nominated for the Jarman Award 2009.