Pallas Contemporary Projects
September 9 – October 10, 2008
Arise! ye starvelings…
Declan Clarke, Stephen Gunning, Nicolas Milhé, Diango Hernández
Arise! ye starvelings… is the opening line of the rallying song the Internationale, the anthem used as an expression of allegiance to revolutionary ideals. The appropriation and re-contextualising of revolutionary and political imagery and ideas is a tactic used by artists to comment on the present geopolitical climate, creating a link between the past and the present. The combination of politics and art together investigate the undercurrents of globalization, and the fault lines opening up in the present. Each of the artists has an aesthetic framework while at the same time containing a political dimension. Their practices traverse the political through the adopting of historical symbols and language associated with revolutionary sentiments. The potentiality of their practices is to unfold the global obliquely, adapting that which is suppressed to developed imagery and discourse.
Declan Clarke’s video work Red Moon engages with our encoded history, which he traces through historical events and the iconography of monuments and architecture. The degradation of the Soviet Union as a super power and its demise as a site of revolutionary thought is reflected in the city’s contemporary landscape through its fading monuments and structures. Nicolas Milhé’s Sans Titre (projection mercator) subverts the standard map. Devoid of any geographical landscape, the artist reflects on the contentious issues of territory and geography, allowing for alternative reading of both our history and our future. Diango Hernández’s Blender features a normal household appliance, but for Hernández it has a strong symbolic meaning: the blender mixes, pulverizes and ‘uniformizes’. The blender is displayed on a naked brick ‘stage’, a deconstructed wall, the unity is gone, and the connection is unstable and vulnerable. The checked shirt is a code to the Cubans: employees of the Department of the Interior or the secret police wore checked shirts. It was a kind of uniform. Now they just lie next to the objects, they are ‘off-duty’, the working day is over.
Stephen Gunning’s dual projection Killing time Amsterdam Penitentiary documents the inmates of a high-rise prison. Foucault spoke about prisons as the Panopticon, the ultimate realization of a modern disciplinary institution. Its structure allowed for constant observation characterized by an “unequal gaze”; the constant possibility of observation. He compared this carceral system to our schools, factories and institutions. Gunning’s piece is disconcerting as the viewer can take on the position of power, observing the behaviour of the inmates.
These works seek to reconnect culture to its political base, representing a strand of resistance in the absence of social revolution. They call into question established notions of society and how the present transforms its past.
‘In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it’ – Walter Benjamin
Green On Red Gallery , Dublin / Wallace Gallery, New York
June 27 – July 26, 2008
Ben Kinsley, Yvonne Buccheim, David Blandy, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Johanna Billing, Kate Murphy, William Hunt
SONIC YOUTH an exhibition of 7 international video artists whose work offers an extensive and in-depth exploration of the various possibilities of the crossover between popular culture and video art. The pieces navigate a variety of sources including the history of film, iconography and a wide range of references to popular culture. The works play with global codes and canonized images that are integral to the collective memory.
Documentary itemization, self-questioning and cultural sampling are videographic practices which the artists use to react to the construction of the everyday. An interest and participation in popular culture especially music represents an important component of their oeuvre.
Ben Kinsley’s GESICHTSMUSIK is a musical self-portrait. All the sounds were produced with his voice and body, and through meticulous editing and layering, an audio-visual composition was created. Yvonne Buccheim, Herder’s Legacy presents amateur singers from 5 different countries (Germany, France, Ireland, UK and USA) in front of a white background eliminating all visual indication of the place of recording. This audio-visual creation inspired by Herder’s song collection from 1773 becomes an open field of research into the visibility of cultural identity within songs. David Blandy uses video, performance and comics to address how identity is constructed. Blandy’s piece The White and Black Minstrel Show, using the character of the White and Black Minstrel (an inverted Black and White Minstrel) to do “live” lip-syncing to songs like “I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Is it because I’m black?”. This clownish figure, with a “whited-up” face, has come to embody Blandy’s cultural confusion in this post-colonial world. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s film project File under Sacred Music takes as its starting point an infamous video that documents a live performance by The Cramps for the patients at Napa Mental Institute, California, on 13th June 1978. Forsyth and Pollard began by re-enacting that legendary performance in order to film and remake the rarely seen video document. They consulted closely with a number of mental health arts organisations, before inviting members from Core Arts, Sound Minds and Mad Pride to attend the performance and filming, which was staged on a specially constructed set in the Institute of Contemporary Arts Theatre in London on 3rd March 2003.
Johanna Billing’s Magical World is a collaboration made with a group of children from a cultural centre outside Zagreb, Croatia. The direct subject is the children’s rehearsal of a song originally written by the black American singer Sidney Barnes in 1968. ‘The song called Magical World, speaks of personal transformation with both pride and melancholy, conflicting emotions that coexist here, as often in life. This reference to transformation gives a clue to a possible metaphoric reading of the work, filmed as it is in a relatively young country that is trying to conform to European Union demands while establishing its own fragile national identity’. (Charles Esche)
Kate Murphy’s narrative style in her documentary pieces Britney Love highlights an 11 year olds aspiration for her future as a celebrity. In her second piece, she revisits her at the age of 18 where she talks about her motivations and aims. William Hunt’s Even As You See Me Now employs video as a means of not only documenting but investigating and testing his own physical and psychological limits as he performs.
Green On Red Gallery
March 15 – April 12, 2008
Niamh McCann, Gavin Murphy & Marcos Rosales
“Our time demands the anti-masterpiece. Things that are cobbled together, pushed and prodded into a state of suspended animation feel right. Stubby, brutish forms that know something of the world in which they are made tell the contemporary story.”
“Not about Mel Gibson” Richard Flood in Unmonumental:The Object in the 21st Century
Green On Red Gallery is proud to announce the first in a series of group exhibitions in 2008 that examine aspects of contemporary art practice in Ireland and further afield. Niamh McCann ( Irl.), Gavin Murphy ( Irl. ) and Marcos Rosales ( USA ) make up the first exhibition called Frontier. All three young artists show work using a mixture of drawing, text and sculptural installation in a variety of materials ranging from synthetic fabric to recycled tin, fluorescent light and cast resin. All three exhibit work in the Green On Red Gallery for the first time.
What is striking in the practice of these three artists is the cross-referential nature of all their work. Individual works do not point to a single subject or concept but seem to draw from multiple sources and times to arrive at what is more a point of departure rather than an endpoint or conclusion. This is as true of Niamh McCann’s sculptural work as it is of her mixed media on paper. In Splice ( 1 ), the promotional image for the exhibition, the original, low-grade, found newspaper has been re-cycled and reconstituted. Parts of the original ‘text’ – including imagery – survive the alteration but become part of a more ambiguous, complex repository of ideas and narratives. The use of acrylic paint is transparently thin allowing the various layers or systems/signs to infiltrate/negotiate each other. As the title suggests, different messages, different time periods, different forms of communication are spliced together/interwoven creating space for reflection. One dominant narrative/system doesn’t exist. The context is the key to the text.
A similar inter-textuality exists in the work of Gavin Murphy. Murphy uses bodies of ( past ) knowledge to direct the mind to consider monumental subjects. Mortality, the nature of existence, the incomprehensibility of the passing of time are at the centre of his art. Typical of his work are sculptural assemblages or ‘Light/Heavy Monuments’ like the one made from recycled coffee bags in Frontier. Word signs and a light bulb hover like a makeshift lightbox above the silver and gold pyramid. The artist does not distinguish between the suggestive power of the forms/signs he generates and the use of single, floating words to operate as a platform for further philosophical investigation.
These occupations, come from a very personal fear, yet Murphy translates these fears into the universal, turning to an enlightenment understanding of the objective observer as a metaphor for the isolation of the soul who wishes to step out of time.
The work of Marcos Rosales ( born Waco, Texas ) comes from a very personal origin tied in with his adoption as a child. Identity as a quest is something, however, that all of us negotiate whether it’s on a philosophical or emotional level or just going through passport control. His stream-of-consciousness writings, entitled The Demons of Diversity, link in with his almost almost automatic ink drawings connect to his free-form, kinky, black macramé suspended sculptures. Cryptic message and double-entendre abound in an unsettling and intense prod at the viewer.