Category Archives: 2011

Gerard Byrne: Through the Eyes

Irish Museum of Modern Art

July 27 – 31 October, 2011

A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, an Installation of five films
A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, an Installation of five films

Artist Gerard Byrne works primarily in film and photography, which he presents as ambitious large-scale installations, to question how images are constructed, transmitted and mediated.  Influenced by literature and theatre, Byrne’s work consistently references a range of sources, from popular magazines of the recent past to iconic modernist playwrights like Brecht, Beckett, and Sartre.

As a part of its two-year series of solo exhibitions, IMMA highlights Byrne’s international relevance within current artistic discourse, bringing together leading European cultural institutions for the first time.  The exhibition at IMMA consists of a series of film works and photographs that provides a survey of his work over the last decade.

Looking south through the glass walls of Scott Tallon Walker Architects' Goulding Summerhouse
Looking south through the glass walls of Scott Tallon Walker Architects’ Goulding Summerhouse

Byrne was born in Dublin in 1969 and graduated from National College of Art & Design, Dublin.  In 2007, he represented Ireland at the Venice Biennial and the Lyons Biennial and in 2008 he represented Ireland at the Sydney Biennial, the Gwangju Biennial and the Turin Triennial. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at Lismore Castle, Co Waterford, Glasgow International Festival of Art, Lisson Gallery, London, and Green On Red Gallery, Dublin. Group exhibitions include Little Theatre of Gestures, Malmo Konsthall, Sweden, Slow Movement at the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland and Sense and Sentiment at the Augarten Contemporary, Vienna, Austria.

A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, an Installation of five films
A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, an Installation of five films

Martin Healy, The Inhabitant

Temple Bar Gallery and Studio’s

 September 3 – October 8 2011

Fugue, installation view
Fugue, installation view

The exhibition titled The Inhabitant comprises two of Healy’s most recent film works Fugue, 2011 and Last Man, 2011. Healy’s work encompasses film, video, and photography and the subject matter references popular culture, science fiction and film.

The films reflect Healy’s interest in early science fiction novels such as Yevgeny Zamyatin’s, dystopian novel  We (1921) and Edward Bellamy’s Looking backward 2000 to 1887 (1888) which in turn led to his preoccupation with the utopian project. Fugue is loosely based on the character Julian West from Bellamy’s looking backward where the character is cast forward in time to the year 2000 in Boston where he describes the future city. Fugue is set in Tapiola, a garden city that was built in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Finland. It was an ideological project in its approach to modern living and the planning of which was  highly influenced by the writings of  Von Hertzen’s  whose starting point in planning was the individuality of man and closeness to nature. Bellamy’s Looking Backward was also influential in the development of garden cities. In the film we see an isolated figure move through the deserted landscape; the modernist project is overgrown almost reflecting on nature’s dominance over the architecture of

Last Man, 2011 Installatio view
Last Man, 2011
Installatio view

The piece is a dystopian depiction of the present while also a psychological portrait of an individual that has become dislocated from time. The term Fugue describes a specific psychological disorder that refers to ‘double consciousnesses’ or a psyhogenic flight. The term was first classified in the late 19th century. A fuguer is an individual who moves between identities that are the product of competing temporalities. The primary symptom of fugue is unexpected travel away from home or work usually accompanied by confusion about personal identity or even an assumption of a new identity and the inability to recall ones past. The film depicts this sense of estrangement through the use of the deserted landscape and lack of expression by the individual, which allows the viewer little relation or empathy for the character. This dislocation or schism is continued in Last Man.

A disused airport terminal in Cork, Ireland completed in 1961 provides the backdrop for Last Man. The films protagonist continues the futile task of working within the empty building, the camera lingers on defunct waiting and baggage claim areas, projecting a possible future where airports will become a thing of the past, leisure travel will no longer be part of the everyday.

Last Man, 2011 Installation view
Last Man, 2011
Installation view

Both films can be viewed as a meditation on the degradation of urban living and dystopian projections of the future where the individual that has so much a part of late capitalism becomes the catalyst of its own demise. Both films are indicative of the current malaise that is reflected in contemporary society. The disenfranchised have become more isolated and the resulting backlash can be seen in the riots in our sprawling metropolis’s. The question being is this the utopia that past architects aspired to.



Romuald Hazoumè

Irish Museum of Modern Art

 February 9 –  May 15, 2011

An exhibition of the work of Romuald Hazoumè, one of Africa’s most acclaimed and original artists, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 9 February 2011. Winner of the prestigious Arnold-Bode Prize at documenta 12 in 2007, Hazoumè was born and continues to live in the Republic of Benin and his work is deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of West Africa. His practice also constitutes a powerful commentary on modern-day life in the area and on the West’s outdated perceptions of Africa. The exhibition is the first solo show dedicated to an African artist at IMMA and continues a strand of programming presenting artists from the periphery, whose socially engaged work documents a moment in time in a particular cultural milieu.

Romuald Hazoumè focuses primarily on the artist’s iconic sculptures made from discarded plastic canisters. Ubiquitous in Benin for transporting black-market petrol (known as kpayo) from Nigeria, these jerry cans are expanded over flames to increase their fuel-carry capacity, sometimes to excess resulting in fatal explosions. Hazoumè fashions the cans and other found objects into a series of masks or portraits of everyday African people, from Citoyenne (1997), a broad-faced woman with African-style plaits, to Java Junkie (2003), a relaxed character with long flowing locks. The masks also call to mind Western perceptions of primitivism, as seen in the use of similar motifs in the works of Picasso and Braque in the early 20th century.

Another work formed from jerry cans, MIP – Made in Porto Novo (2009), comprises a quartet of jazz instruments with their own unique accompaniment. This is made up of revving motorbikes, splashing liquid and other noises recorded by the artist over a day spent with his fellow countrymen, the so-called kpayo army, who transport the illegal fuel. These and other works all highlight the presence of multi-national oil companies in West Africa where natural resources are exploited with little benefit to the local communities, a form of neo-colonialism that Hazoumè equates with an unending form of slavery.

Slavery is also one of the themes at the heart of the panoramic photograph, And From There They Leave (2006) in which we see a group of boys with their canoe on an idyllic beach. The subtext is that this is the area from which slave ships set sail in vast numbers from the late 15th to the early 19th centuries. Today Benin is still a country where economic circumstances force people to leave their homeland, continuing a long history of poverty and exploitation for most of its citizens.

The four paintings in the exhibition are also integral to Hazoumè’s practice and again bring together the traditional and the modern. Acrylic paints are used to delineate the foreground from the background, echoing an old West-African mural technique which employed ochre and cow dung to achieve the same effect. In addition, the symbols used relate to Ifá, an ancient literary, divinatory and philosophical system used by the Yoruba people, the tribe to which Hazoumè belongs.

Romuald Hazoumè was born in 1962 in Porto Novo, Republic of Benin. His work has won widespread critical acclaim and has been shown widely internationally over the past 20 years. His major installation, La Bouche du Roi, a re-creation of a slave ship made from petrol canisters, was shown at the British Museum, London, in 2007 to commemorate the bi-centenary of the British Parliament’s abolition of the slave trade. The work was also shown at the Menil Collection, Houston, and the Musée Quai Branly, Paris. He participated in 100% Afrique at the Guggenheim Bilbao in 2006-07 and in Uncomfortable Truths, which addressed the ways in which the legacy of slavery informs contemporary art and design, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, in 2007, again organised to mark the abolition of the British slave trade.


Luke Fowler: Pilgrimage from Scattered Points

 Temple Bar Gallery & Studio’s

February 19 – March 26, 2011

Pilgrimmage from Scatterdpoints
Pilgrimmage from Scatterdpoints

Luke Fowler Pilgrimage from Scattered Points a film about the English composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) and The Scratch Orchestra (1968-1973). Luke Fowler’s films are informed by his research on socially radical figures such as psychologist Ronald D. Laing, musician Xentos ‘Fray Bentos’ Jones and the conservationist Bogman Palmjaguar; they push the boundaries in terms of how we construct or perceive contemporary society. Fowler’s films employ the conventions of documentary film making through the use of archival footage, interviews, still photography, voice-overs and soundscape. This film highlights Fowler’s interest in the nature of collaboration and its possibilities. This is prevalent throughout his work not only in the figures that he researches but in his capacity as a film maker, artist, musician, historian and organiser.

Pilgrimage from Scattered Points documents a pinnacle in British and European history which saw the rise of anti-establishment organisations, the 1968 student protests, the anti-war movement; the Scratch Orchestra was part of that moment and the film moves through archival footage, interviews and predominantly unreleased music to relays the struggles and conflicts of that period. Cornelius Cardew, Michael Parsons and Howard Skempton founded the Scratch Orchestra in 1968; they published their manifesto in The Musical Times in June 1969. The establishment of this orchestra was a reaction against musical conservatism and the avant-garde establishment. The concerts were social experiments, in that they were designed by the members in rotation and based on a non-hierarchical system where all participants; musicians, non-musicians and composers had equal status. The only full length recording of The Scratch Orchestra available is a performance of Cardew’s The Great Learning (1968–1970), a six hour choral work written for the Orchestra based on the Confucian scriptures. The work called for a large number of trained and untrained musicians to sing, speak, drum, perform actions and gestures, improvise and use conventional and unconventional sound sources.

Pilgrimage from scattered points, installation view
Pilgrimage from scattered points, installation view

This utopian ideology of creating a musical equivalent to a classless society was the basis of The Scratch Orchestra which is poignant, as in the last thirty years socio-economic inequalities have become far greater. Pilgrimage from Scattered Points explores the possibilities, complexities and divisive nature of political idealism while also calling into question the role of art within society.

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