Matthew Buckingham

Matthew Buckingham, Obscure Mornings (installation view), 2006

Matthew Buckingham, Obscure Mornings (installation view), 2006

Although film features strongly in Matthew Buckingham's (b.1963, Nevada, USA) work, he is also the author of drawings, photographs, slide projections, postcards, plaques (on bus stop benches), videos and essays. Always meticulously researched and documented, his work seems to be ‘about’ the construction of histories, and the peculiar blending of fact and mythology that is necessary for their emergence. And he takes a long view of history, reminding us that we are now in the sixth century of ‘globalisation’.

Matthew Buckingham’s video installation for International 06 entitled Obscure Moorings (2006) drew on a short story by Herman Melville, ‘Daniel Orme’ (1891). The story was perhaps Melville’s final work of fiction, the story of an old sailor facing retirement on shore. Melville was the same age as the fictional Orme when he wrote the story. His life-span had seen the industrialisation of the sea trade as well as the rise of other new forms of transport (most notably the steam train). These technological and economic changes, in combination with shifts in world politics, transformed global relations in the nineteenth century.

Buckingham adapted the Melville story and character to the early twenty-first century to examine the similarly enormous changes that a retiring sailor would have experienced in todays society. Melville’s first port of call as a sailor on his first voyage was Liverpool. He wrote extensively about his impressions of Liverpool’s docks in the novel Redburn (1849).

In adapting ‘Daniel Orme’ to Liverpool today, Buckingham was interested in taking up the question of the new docks – an area to the north of the city, almost invisible, yet perpetuating the city’s role in world trade. Buckingham shot in Liverpool’s Seaforth and Freeport docks, casting actors and extras from the city.

Matthew Buckingham at Liverpool Biennial 2006 

Obscure Moorings,
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2006
Exhibited at FACT

Supported by

The Elephant Trust