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About the Work

This work came about as the result of a TV documentary on my work entitled 'The Mayflower Project'. The work is autobiographical in that it recorded my westward move to the 'New World' in 1984. I photographed two sections in Plymouth, Devon, and two in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The top section was photographed with a video camera instead of my usual stills samera, the first time I had done this. This seemed appropriate, as I was myself being filmed by a TV crew for a documentary on the making of this work. There were many other U.S. TV crews covering the demonstration for the evening news on the networks. As the politics and culture of America are controlled by television, I distorted the video images of the Indians by using a TV special effects device.
'Manifest Destiny' is intended to look like a may flower and like a spaceship taking off for a new world. The work's title is the same as that given to the political doctrine excusing the destruction of the Indians, formulated in the 19th century as a justification for genocide.

Section 1 is shaped like a space capsule and features Plymouth Hoe, the Royal Marines exercising in arched body shapes, a reference to the Armada and to the arch in St. Louis, Missouri, which records the westward expansion of Europeans across the North American continent.

Section 2 is shaped like a dartboard or compass and is photographed inside and outside a pub, which overlooks the quay from which the Mayflower departed in 1620. The U.S. flag can be seen through the windows of the bar.

Section 3 is shaped like an Indian headdress and was photographed at dawn on Thanksgiving Day behind the statue of 'Chief Massasoit' which overlooks Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. The white and red shapes are from car headlights passing the statue on Thanksgiving Eve 1985.

Section 4 is shaped like an explosion and records the demonstration by the New England Indians which takes place every Thanksgiving Day under the statue of Massasoit. The North American Indians refer to Thanksgiving Day as the 'National Day of Mourning'.

(Commissioned: Television South West)

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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