Roderick Buchanan: Legacy
Feature-length film installation exploring both sides of the Troubles in Northern Ireland
This article is from 2012.
For a work that brings together the two sides of the same coin that are Irish Republicanism and Northern Irish Loyalism, the black wall that divides the two screens of Roderick Buchanan’s feature-length film installation without comment is a silently knowing piece of symbolism.
Commissioned in association with the Imperial War Museum, Buchanan’s piece charts a pair of Glasgow flute bands’ participation in two ideologically opposed marches. While the Black Skull Corps of Fife and Drum travel to Londonderry to celebrate the 320th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of the city, the Parkhead Republican Flute Band commemorate the Easter Rising in Derry during 2010.
With no narration, and with the sound wilfully flitting between each film in the style of censored UK news bulletins of the 1980s, at first glance this seems to be a pair of community away-day rituals. With the screenings flanked on all sides by photographic portraits of the members of each band that lends them the air of football cards, Buchanan neither judges nor asks questions, but opts instead for a form of anthropological reportage. Only when you read the statements from each band on the wall do the events’ full historical contexts become clear.
Watching the films in tandem, as both bands make their way through run-down housing schemes, it’s easy to recognise in such mutual shows of strength a common ground that speaks volumes about class and social conditions.
Strip away the uniforms, the film suggests, and both bands would be marching to a different, but eminently like-minded drum.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 624 6200, until 16 Sep, free.