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martin firrell company
Complete Hero | As I Was Being Passed Out | quoting April Ashley MBE
Guards Chapel, Birdcage Walk

Complete Hero. Commissioned by Major General William Cubbitt for the Household Division of the British Army.

Installed 4 - 10 November 2009.

Digital text and video projections with sync sound (West Front) to the West and North Elevations of the Guards' Chapel.

Project Creator, Martin Firrell;
Project Director, Emma Callander;
Assistant, Kate Jones;
Producer, Pauline Senior;
Technical Director, Simon MacColl.

Interviewees included cell biologists Dr Jennifer Rohn and Dr Adam Rutherford; drag performer Miss Understanding; philosopher A C Grayling; novelist Howard Jacobson; writer Adam Nicolson, British muslim comedian Shazia Mirza; and actor Nathan Fillion who also served as the face of the project.

April Ashley MBE contributed her story as one of the first people in the world to have gender reassignment surgery. Ashley's courage and grace in the face of daunting odds were celebrated as acts of contemporary and complete heroism.

Text and video interviews were presented on the West and North elevations of the modernist Guards' Chapel with sound delivered by wireless headsets to the audience in the concourse by the West Front.

Each video interview was presented in multiples: 5 identical talking heads repeated across the width of the West elevation and 6 silent heads across the wider North elevation.

Complete Hero was commissioned by the Household Division of the British Army for the Royal Military Chapel (The Guards' Chapel) Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London.

The project set out to establish a contemporary definition of heroism, exploring the plurality of possible meanings at a time when the British Army was engaged in two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Complete Hero raised the question of what 'completeness' might look like in the context of heroism in the new century, and asked the general public to consider this question via the project's blog page.

Video interviews were conducted with serving members of the British Army including Johnson Beharry holder of the Victoria Cross, the highest honour in the British Army; and with civilians from contrasting walks of life where the concept of heroism might be equally but
differently applied.

The project's aim was to suggest a definition of heroism that included creative and scientific examples, as well as reflecting the more sexually equal and multi-cultural nature of British society in the 21st century.