Henry VIII's Wives (The Wives) are a collective of artists founded in 1997, and include Rachel Dagnall, Bob Grieve, Sirko Knupfer, Simon Polli, Per Sander and Lucy Skaer. For their first exhibition in a London gallery they will present two time-based installations; Mr Hysteria, 2005 and The Returning Officer, 2007. Although both projects are very different in approach Mr Hysteria informed and inspired the development of The Returning Officer, paving the way to an experimental use of narrative.
Inspired by people and their relationships to specific places, The Returning Officer takes three fictitious stories shot in 16mm film in three key locations as its starting point; The Legacy House, Belgrade, Serbia - a house owned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was used as a casino and brothel during the Milosevic era; an organ builder?s adapted house and workshop outside Vilnius, Lithuania and an opium poppy field in rural Austria. Chosen by the artists for their peculiarity and resonance, each film delves into a hidden social and political history. Visually seductive, the films are accompanied by a live soundtrack of a church organ which will be installed in the gallery.
Mr Hysteria explores the changing meanings of Hysteria over the last century. Previously thought of as a solitary illness exclusively affecting women - the ?wandering womb?, hysteria became a more social phenomenon, with instances of mass hysteria becoming more frequent in the 20th century. Mr Hysteria is filmed in a maternity hospital, a stock exchange trading floor, a police station and anewspaper archive. In each location, non actors recite a script compiled from interviews conducted by ?The Wives? on diverse themes, from memories of mass migrations and the fall of the Berlin Wall, to simple descriptions of objects no longer present.