Camara Taylor’s new video work, holus-bolus, is inspired by the tellings and re-tellings of the life and death of William Davidson (1781 – 1820). Conspirator, radical or wrongfully convicted, Davidson was the son of a Scotsman, the Attorney General of Jamaica, and a black woman. He studied mathematics at Aberdeen University and later became a cabinet maker. In 1820, Davidson delivered an ‘eloquent and unsuccessful’ speech to court during the trial for his alleged involvement in the Cato Street Conspiracy (a radical plot to assassinate cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister). Throughout the trial, Davidson maintained his innocence, claiming he’d been mistaken for another man of colour in the area at the time.
Slippery and frantic, Taylor works with and against court transcripts, rumour, anecdote and regency era records and ephemera; questioning what these can tell us about Black presence – or even a single figure. Instead of creating a vehicle for historic accuracy, holus-bolus confronts us with a dilemma also faced by the artist who says, “I’m not sure if I’m trying to capture the feeling of the event or my feelings in the retelling.”
Performed by: Nima Séne
Narrated by: Shola von Reinhold
Figured by: Sulaïman Majali
Sound by: 皚桐
Supported by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund and EventScotland. Our Commissions Programme is kindly supported by the Patrons of our Commissioning Circle.