In Widows and Orphans: Chapter 36 artist Jamie Shovlin tackles the late 19th century, focusing on the struggle between Christian belief about the origins of life and the evolution theory of new kid on the block, Charles Darwin.
Widows and Orphans, created for Lincoln Voices and 1215 Today, uses the secondary school textbook A History of the Modern World as source material. The highlighting and underlining left behind by previous readers was used to create a script, employing a cut-up editorial technique from annotated fragments of multiple editions of the textbook. Jamie’s residency was hosted by Lincoln’s School of Social and Political Sciences and supported by the School of Film and Media. In producing Widows and Orphans, the artist worked with a group of young people from Lincoln to bring the annotations of an earlier generation of readers to life in a series of short videos.
Jamie’s work explores the tension between fact and fiction, particularly in the personal interpretation of texts and how different generations’ readings reframe them. He is interested in the journey a document takes from point of origin into the hands and minds of a contemporary generation.
Widows and Orphans: Chapter 36 script read aloud:
A great change came over capitalism itself about 1880 or 1890. The novel and upsetting effect of evolutionary biology was to change the conception of nature. Nature was no longer a harmony, it was a scene of struggle.
It abolished the civil authority of religious hierarchs.
Qualities of humility, patience, brotherly helpfulness, hope, and love, in short the specifically Christian virtues, Nietzsche described as a slave morality concocted by the weak to disarm the strong.
Evolution after Darwin became the order of the day. Social Darwinists were found all over Europe and the United States. Their doctrines were put to various uses, to show that some peoples were naturally superior to others…