Frith Street

Bridget Smith

09 Dec 2011 - 11 Feb 2012

© Bridget Smith
We Must Live!, 2011
HD Video
30 minutes
We must live!
9 December, 2011 – 11 February, 2012

In this exhibition Bridget Smith explores the power of acting out an imagined scenario and the consequences it can have in real life. Her new film and photographs examine how a particular community deals with notions of life and death and how faith is used as a refuge in moments of crisis.

Filmed in a small village in Galicia, Spain We Must Live! is set around the feast day of Saint Martha – who, her devotees believe, has the power to cure serious illness. Smith’s film follows the events of the day from the religious ceremonies to the evening festivities.

On this day relatives of those who have survived a life threatening illness act out a symbolic death by lying in an open coffin. The coffin is carried in a procession through the village before its occupant emerges to picnic with their family. The day itself is one of extreme noise and chaos, but the film is a meditative work about our search to connect with something greater than ourselves.

We Must Live! raises questions of how much a recovery from illness can be attributed to personal faith. Bursts of clashing noise and revelry are intercut with moments of reflection and remembering. The cast of real characters have all had experience of the power of Saint Martha: the young woman who has been in the coffin, the priest who represents the views of Rome, the man who has survived a life threatening illness and the local amateur dramatic group, ‘We Must Live!’ whose acting out represents a secular version of the devotions dedicated to St Martha.

Also on show are a number of photographs including two from the shrine complex at Lourdes. These empty interiors where medical staff examine whether a ‘miraculous’ cure has occurred represent sites where scientific knowledge meets religious fervour.

Tags: Bridget Smith