What Is Our Duty To Nostalgia?

Alfie Evans 


Our duty to nostalgia has been mistaken as an aesthetic revival in search of ‘good ideas’, resulting in a weary disservice.

In our quest to rapidly generate ideas and respond to an exceedingly dynamic environment the past is a quick fix. But is there a political implication of this pastiche that is overlooked and a naïve sense that this can continue to work and pay off?

In my performance of the past am I simply doing the least but expecting the most when carving its perfection? Or is there a profound layer beneath this perfect skin? An imperfectly perfect performance. In my longing, what is my responsibility when reviving the couture style of Tony Monero and Stephanie Mangano? Do I really want to live in an impoverished suburb? Or work on the chain gang for minimum wage slaving away 17 and a half hours to buy a hair dryer? Or walk into a club with all but 1 person being white? Or exist in a time where racism, sexism and gender discrimination were more acceptable and because of this, say something non-politically correct on average every 1 minute and 24 seconds? What is my political duty whilst playtesting this fantasy? How do I become this character but disown their traits and honour their victims?

What is my duty to nostalgia?

Through a forensic analysis of Saturday Night Fever I set out to develop a methodology consisting of traditional and performative modes of research, that would allow me to identify distinct and intricate political themes to establish a vantage point with which to critically respond to nostalgia. This led to considering how we could develop new performances from this political framework that also continue our cultural production, rather than let it be stunted by a devolving, aestheticised fantasy.

My film ‘Saturday Night Fever (Free Version)’ captures this methodology and thought process. Other films such as Saturday Night Fever – The 1970’s Problem With Race, How much Does Tony Earn? And Tony’s hair dryer depicts the forensic method of research comprehensively and finally, Saturday Night Fever – Getting Ready In 1977, shows how this forensic process translated into mapping Tony’s environment from the past into my own current environment as an early development of exploring performances.

Prior to this exhibition I decided to explore how this methodology of exploring our duty to nostalgia could be taken further and situate this presently. The development was considering a disco-sci-fi performance utilising the political framework of Saturday Night Fever to explore our duty to nostalgia through the lens of a sociologist evaluating the socio-cultural, political considerations that should be made when approaching ‘a fresh start’ on another planet in response to recent prospective developments in democratising space flight and colonising Mars. Through this performance a multi-dimensional, politicised, cultural exploration can ensue utilising a Kubrick ‘known unknowns’ approach to assessing cultural discourse through the affordances predicted and known about space. This aims to address our duty to nostalgia and questioning the inevitable when colonising planets evolves prospectively. 

Reasearch Documents — Scripted Analaysis & Episodic Scrutiny   —  
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