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Stories, Memories and Identity in Images and Sound

"Sunshine State" by Steve McQueen

Visit with focus session in the exhibition

Educational objectives and activities
As they explore Steve McQueen’s Sunshine State exhibition, the students will be asked to reflect on some recurring themes in his works. These include a comparison between the way the official story is told and the intimate, personal way in which the artist sees it, the importance of bringing to light the memory of the vanquished, an awareness of one’s own corporeality and of one’s senses, the relevance and value of the earliest cinema, and the narrative potential of the simple “act of looking”.

During the visit, the children will be asked to look carefully at the works on display, paying particular attention to the different types of moving images – from 16 mm film to Super8, through to digital – and to the presence or absence of sound. The visit will focus in particular on Sunshine State, the work that gives the exhibition its title. In this work, which is based on the manipulation of a significant sequence from the film The Jazz Singer (1927), Steve McQueen creates an unsettling message that can be read on multiple levels, including the apparent contrast between the images and the off-screen narration, the parallels between the story of the film and the personal, intimate story of the artist, the difference between official history and that of the vanquished, and the importance of cultural identity.

At the end of the visit, the students will watch the entire 24-minute film Western Deep (2002), which will further enliven the final discussion.

During the last part of the session, the students will be asked to reflect on the narrative elements that Steve McQueen uses to tell the stories that are at the heart of his works. They will then share and discuss their considerations, examining their perceptions and any connections there may be between the themes that are dear to the artist and those of their own personal experience.

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