Category Archives: 2020

Alan Phelan – echoes are always more muted

Void Gallery

September  5, 2020 – December 19, 2020

Installation image, Courtesy of the artist, photography Tansy Cowley
Installation image, Courtesy of the artist, photography Tansy Cowley

Alan Phelan’s exhibition echoes are always more muted is part of an expanded series of exhibitions that encompass his continuing research into the intersections of history, sexuality, material culture and politics which have evolved through sculpture, participatory events, and photography.

The genesis of this new body of work is the photographic process invented by John Joly (1890s) that created colour via a red, green and blue screen to create the full colour spectrum. The two-layer photograph consists of the striped colour screen and black & white sheet film, which also creates a unique colour shift upon viewing. The process was used into the early 20th Century and abandoned for colour without stripes.

John Joly, the inventor of the process, provides the biographical background to the 15-minute film Folly & Diction (2020). Instead of a detailed documentary, the music video format provides the structure with a narrative taken from a Samuel Beckett short story and narration in the form of song lyrics, culled from a poem by Jean Genet. The video tells an oblique story of loss, a forgotten history, and a failed relationship with his collaborator Henry Dixon. It brings Joly’s photographic process into a contemporary sphere with audio responsive animated stripes that pulse to the music and crude video layering that draws on multiple music video tropes.

Red, green and blue form the basis of how video screens present colour and how we experience colour in all electronic devices; this provides the background for other works in the exhibition. The centre piece of Gallery 1 is an installation of various props and parts which further expand the idea of a photograph as a multi-sensory object moving into an augmented reality and fragrance as a memory trigger. A small RGB hyacinth flower is enlarged via a mobile phone AR app and the sweet scent of the flower pervades the gallery. The mattress, pot, and plant notebook connects to the film, referencing an earlier script – elements that were eliminated in the final cut. The flower has persisted, however, as a memory trigger, as in the film, just like a fragrance, to a different sensory connection with the past.

Installation image, Courtesy of the artist, photography Tansy Cowley
Installation image, Courtesy of the artist, photography Tansy Cowley

The recurring use of this trio of colours shift to gels on spotlights, onto a new wall work comprised of screen-printed page layouts, from a zine dealing with images and texts that delve into a wider art history of stripes. The wall is punctuated by a single Joly screen photograph of a headless self-portrait, shot from behind, in red, with red roses, pushing bathos that bit further.

Five new Joly screen images hung close to this are the most recent photographs. They have dense compositions made of dots, with holes in the screen that reflect onto circular mirrors, creating monochrome gaps in the striped screen, overlapping into the objects photographed. Works by John Baldessari and Sigmar Polke provide more recent histories as reference points here.

Installation image, Courtesy of the artist, photography Tansy Cowley
Installation image, Courtesy of the artist, photography Tansy Cowley

Ten Joly screen images in Gallery 3 traverse different art histories relating to the pre-photographic photo realism of 17th Century flower paintings; moving through cinematic references, advertising, 1950s ikebana Japanese flower arranging, queer photography, and more. The inherent ambiguity of the images ghosts a history the process never had a chance to image or imagine. Convoluted titles attempt to navigate possible interpretative paths but they only leave echoes of a past that never happened and a present that has still more to achieve or reveal.

This series of works expands on Phelan’s preoccupation with re-imagining history in a contemporary guise, he appropriates histories, deconstructing others to make a mélange of humorous imagery that references the gamut of art and photographic genres. It is an exercise of storytelling that is at once all-encompassing but ultimately a story of invention, failure and love.

Alan Phelan Biography

Alan Phelan (b.1968) is an artist based in Dublin whose practice began in photography and has extended into many different media and mediums with a focus on interpretation, language and collaboration. He studied at Dublin City University and Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. Recent exhibitions and projects include RHA, Dublin; The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon (2020); Company of Others, CCA, Derry (2020); TBG+S Atrium (2019); The LAB, Dublin (2019); and Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2019). Our Kind, commissioned by Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane for 2016/1916 was also screened in Oslo, Bergen, Derry, Belfast and Carlow where it won the Hotron Éigse Art Prize. Internationally he has shown at Dada Post, Berlin; Loop, Barcelona; Videonale.15 Bonn Kunstmuseum; Detroit, Stockholm; Bozar, Brussels; Treignac Projet, France; Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai; Oksasenkatu 11, Helsinki; Mina Dresden Gallery, San Francisco; Galería Del Infinito Arte, Buenos Aires; ŠKUC, Ljubljana; SKC Gallery, Belgrade; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Public art commissions include works for Dublin City Council, Dublin South County Council, St Michael’s House Special National School Raheny and the Dept of Communications. He is currently the NCAD School of Fine Art Artist in Residence for 2019-20.

 

For more about Alan’s work please visit his website.

Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

Tue 7th April – Sat 25th April, 2020

Co-curated by Mary Cremin and Peter Richards, featuring artists: Bassam Al Sabah; Liliane Puthod; Michael Hanna; and Stuart Calvin

Installation view, Michael Hanna and Bassam Al Sabah
Installation view, Michael Hanna and Bassam Al Sabah

Dissolving Histories follows the acclaimed Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art series, which was conceived to explore the unreliable nature of history. While Dissolving Histories refers to this series, its purpose is to actively investigate the notion of history itself.

Co-curated by Mary Cremin and Peter Richards, the four artists presented use video, sculpture, found materials, and installation to create a dialogue between their work. The distinct qualities of each artist bleed into one another on encounter, creating ‘zones’ rather than spaces in which to explore our changing reality. Working to highlight the experience of the entire exhibition as a whole, different elements converge to provoke questions relating to exhibition making, encounter, and representation.

installation view, Bassam Al Sabah  & Michael Hanna
installation view, Bassam Al Sabah & Michael Hanna

Al Sabah, Puthod, Hanna and Calvin are individually interested in contemporary consumerism, materiality and futuristic landscape. The exhibition considers today’s lifestyle, informed by our consumption of material goods. There is a glut, an overspill, and a crowding of ideologies reflecting each artist’s interpretation of ourchanging everyday reality. Michael Hanna’s piece explores the ideas of utopian communities and ways of living. The work uses as its starting point the utopian publication Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy; at the time of writing in 1888 the western world was going through a similar moment when the disparity within society and world politics was in crisis.

Stuart Calvin’s work focuses on new age ideologies, his sculptural works are reminiscent of the symbols and connections that inhabit both the real and mystical landscape. The philosophical inquiry in his work explores our propensity and need to seek spiritual fulfilment in times of chaos.

Installation view, Stuart Calvin
Installation view, Stuart Calvin

Bassam Al Sabah creates surreal animated landscapes through his multi-media installations that move from the physical to the mythological. His works are influenced by Japanese anime that use hyper surreal imagery embedded in the ideas of fantasy. Al Sabah deconstructs this language by referencing war imagery to reflect the experience of countries divided by war.

Liliane Puthod in contrast highlights our fetishisation of consumer culture; neon lights, the hum and glow of a fridge, reference our consumer culture and the fabrication of desire through everyday objects.

Installation view, Liliane Puthod
Installation view, Liliane Puthod

 

This grouping of artists came about through studio visits and an idea of creating an exhibition that reflects our current moment, the artists areas of research compound that while we face the current political and global crisis our response and reaction reflects the complexity of our time and our means of translating this reality into artists practice.

About the Artists

Michael Hanna

Michael Hanna is an artist based in Belfast. His work takes a wide range of forms including text, video and immersive site-specific installation. Through this work he uses affective experience to explore connections between psychology, physicality and society. His current project examines utopian ideologies through representations in fiction and their real-world manifestations.

He is co-founder of the artist-run organisation AMINI (Artists’ Moving Image Northern Ireland). In 2018 Michael was selected for the Freelands Artist Programme, a 2 year fellowship with PS2, Belfast and Freelands Foundation, London. He has exhibited in the UK and internationally including Rencontres Internationales at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Multiplicity at NURTUREart, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Looking Backward at PS2, Belfast, Short Films about Learning at Lismore Castle Arts, and Predictable Contact at the Naughton Gallery, Belfast.

Stuart Calvin

Calvin’s installation and sculptural work draws on familiar symbolism from various religions and belief systems. His work explores incorporeal worlds, supernatural experiences and the human propensity to venerate and fetishise objects. Throughout Calvin’s work, references to New Age ideologies, superstitions and theories of consciousness are ever present. The work proposes a type of modem mysticism, forming connections between the visible and invisible, the physical and metaphysical.

Born in Belfast 1974, Stuart Calvin graduated from the University of Ulster in 2011 with a BA Hons in Fine and Applied Art and in 2016, a Masters degree in Fine Art. He has recently been awarded The Royal Society of British Sculptors Bursary. Calvin was the first recipient of the Annual Gerard Dillon Award and Solo Show, selected by the Arts committee of Culturlann Belfast. He received the University of Ulster Dean’s list award and bursary 2009.

Bassam Al Sabah

Bassam Al Sabah’s work conveys visions of war, resistance and perseverance. He is concerned with how the past is continually revised to meet the present, when the juvenile fantasy breaks down into the reality of adulthood. He references Arabic dubbed Japanese anime series, which were broadcast across the middle-east from the 1980s. Tackling themes of revolution, war and exile, the work projects political meaning onto these cartoons, which have been connected with a cross generational identity, shared by now adult Arabs. Al Sabah draws attention to an ignored point in media globalisation: the influence, effects and agendas of Japanese anime on Arab popular culture.

Al-Sabah graduated from IADT’s BA Visual Art Practice in 2016 and was awarded the RHA Graduate Studio Award. He was shortlisted for the RDS Visual Arts Awards, curated by Alice Maher. Recently he was part of a panel discussion, chaired by Cristín Leach, in Dublin Castle as part of Cruinniú na Cásca, and was listed by Gemma Tipton in the Irish Times as an artist to watch in 2017. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Eight (2017) and Dublin City Council’s The LAB (2018).

Liliane Puthod

Liliane Puthod’s practice often takes the form of large-scale installations and sculptures. Her work is informed by research into ideas of mass-production and its perceived value in our globalised world. Often taking her immediate surroundings as a starting point for her creative work, she uses both handmade and industrialised materials. She draws on modes of display, the language of merchandising and is interested in examining the way forms can problematise the materials from which they are made. She is drawn to archaeology, contrasting contemporary mass-production with singularly produced repetitive objects, as a way to approach archaeological and commodified time.

Recent exhibitions include group show Display, Link and Cure at The Complex, Dublin, 2019, solo shows How Long After Best Before at Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin, 2019 and Everything Must Go at PS2, Belfast, 2019. She is recipient of the Project Studio 2020-2021 at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios and her work is generously supported by the The Arts Council.

Mary Cremin, Curator

Mary Cremin is a curator, writer and art historian.  She is the Director of Void Gallery, Derry, where she commissioned the Turner Prize winning film The Long Note by artist Helen Cammock in 2019. She was the Commissioner and Curator of the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2019 with artist Eva Rothschild. Prior to this she was the Programme Curator of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios and the Artistic Director of The Treeline Project with Oonagh Young.

In 2015, she was Curator of TULCA Festival of Visual Art, Seachange, which included over 30 national and international artists. She has delivered large scale exhibitions and commissions such as Magnetism, Hazelwood Estate, Sligo, (2015), Richard Mosse, The Enclave, Irish Pavilion, Venice Biennale, (2013).

Documentation by Simon Mills
Supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council

https://www.goldenthreadgallery.co.uk/events/dissolving-histories-an-unreliable-presence/?v=79cba1185463

sur— [infinite Slippage: production of the r ~e ~a ~l as an intensive magnitude starting at zero-eight] —plus Ima-Abasi Okon

Void Art Centre

1 February – 22 August 2020

Void Gallery is delighted to present a commission by London and Amsterdam based artist Ima-Abasi Okon in partnership with the Chisenhale Gallery. Okon works with sculpture, sound and video to produce installations that explore exhibition-making as an exercise in syntax, adopting linguistic and grammatical structures within her installations as a way of complicating the construction of knowledge.

For the iteration of the commission, Okon delineates individual aspects of a previous vocabulary of symbols embedded in both hand-made and mass-produced materials, including film to explore representations of the body and the formation of taste, value and excess. A series of industrial air conditioners are adapted to become hosts for a new multi-channel sound piece comprising an existing audio track that has been slowed down. Acting as both a cooling system for the gallery and as a vehicle for the sound work, the fans perform at various speeds and durations.

Installation view, Ima Abasi Okon
Installation view, Ima Abasi Okon

In another gallery the ceiling has been partially lowered using a standardised modular system, often found within offices, retail spaces, waiting rooms and other administrative environments. The mass-produced ceiling tiles have been smeared with an invisible mixture of morphine, insulin, ultrasound gel and gold, imbuing the otherwise everyday objects with a personal, totemic charge.Hand-crafted glass light shades, each adorned with an opulent design and filled with palm oil and Courvoisier VS Cognac, hang from the ceiling. With the introduction of these liquids, the lights emit a golden glow, further highlighting an atmospheric friction between Okon’s production processes, pointing to the possibilities of magic as a sculptural act. Okon’s ongoing use of oriented strand board, painted with varnish and framed with ‘exotic woods’ further explore how value is assigned to a given object or material through its categorisation, modes of display and origin.

Installation view
Installation view

Through the use of sound, scale and light and film, Okon’s commission makes audible and palpable an excess, or surplus, that is often silenced or not seen and in doing so questions how to represent a body in its absence. Ima-Abasi Okon’s practice across print, sculpture and moving image revolves around a preoccupation with knowledge, its production and the methods which language both regulates and distributes it. The result is work that often deals with how information is performed as an extension of knowledge.

Whenthe - (after-the-world presocial vivid therenessssss and ongoinglyyy) - is the system, 2019
Whenthe – (after-the-world presocial vivid therenessssss and ongoinglyyy) – is the system, 2019

This new commission was made in partnership with the Chisenhale Gallery, London.

Capture Mechanism Bypass for Surplus - aChoreographic-Logic-Complex Dub, 2018 HD video 13'49
Capture Mechanism Bypass for Surplus – aChoreographic-Logic-Complex Dub, 2018
HD video 13’49

Ima-Abasi Okon Bio

Ima-Abasi Okon lives and works between London and Amsterdam. Selected exhibitions include: Infinite Slippage: nonRepugnant Insolvencies T!-a!-r!-r!-y!-i!-nas Handclaps of M’s Hard’Loved’Flesh [I’M irreducibly undone because] —Leanage-Complex-Dub, Chisenhale Gallery, London, UK, The Weather Garden: Anne Hardy curates the Arts Council Collection, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (2019); Sur— [MIX-USE COMMODITY] —plus, Kingsgate Project Space, London; Parables for the BLAZER: Mahalia’s EXCISTENCEandEXISTENTS-HyPE fragrant stacking balm (306.HAL), Plaza Plaza, London; 13th Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar, Senegal; There’s something in the conversation that is more interesting than the finality of (a title), The Showroom, London (all 2018); and UNTITLED: Art on the Conditions of Our Time, New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2017). In 2018, she was awarded both the Nigel Greenwood Research Prize and the Summer Residency at Hospitalfield, Scotland. She is currently participating in the residency programme at Rijksakademie voor beeldende kunsten (Academy for fine arts), Amsterdam.

For more about Ima’s work please visit http://www.imaokon.co.uk.

 

Photo credit: Odudu Okon