The Mistress of the Mantle

Katherine Nolan, MART, Dublin, 2 – 31 March 2017

KATHERINE Nolan is a performance artist whose work focuses on her body and her image as sites of investigation into the representation and construction of femininity. Her recent series of performances, The Mistress of the Mantle, held at MART, Rathmines, were based on the artist’s experience of returning to Ireland after 10 years in London. She found that the reality of moving ‘home’ was not quite the return to the fold that she had anticipated. Unexpectedly, this transition marked her symbolic arrival at the precipice of adulthood. Time away and dislocation from Ireland imposed a disruption of the rites of passage between childhood and maturity that are normally cushioned by the stability of family, community and place. Nolan had to grapple with expectations – both her own and other people’s – about how she should fulfil this new responsibility, triggering a re-evaluation of her identity, memory, nostalgia and complex attachment to Ireland.

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I Wanted to Write a Poem

Jonathan Mayhew, Wexford Arts Centre, 27 February – 25 March 2017

[Infinite Jest] can’t be read at a crowded cafe, or with a child on one’s lap.

Dave Eggers

WINNER of the 2015 Emerging Visual Artist Award, Jonathan Mayhew is one of those artists whose work requires a space where you can hear a pin drop. Wexford Art Centre (WAC) is not that space. Perhaps Mayhew’s exhibition of new work would have fared better in the attention stakes during the recession, when such regional art centres were empty saloons in ghostly Westworlds. During my visit, the endless stream of visitors to the cafe and the hoofing of piano peddles with woohooing children upstairs was a sign of the times. But, there is a big BUT to all of this, which I will get to later.

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Artistic Migration: Frank O’Meara & Irish Artists Abroad

Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, 13 February – 11 June 2017

SARI: Subject. Aspect. Restrictions. Instructions. This useful acronym, which I recommend students to use when analysing an essay title or exam question, came to mind when reflecting on the exhibition currently on display in the Hugh Lane, the title of which is ‘Artistic Migration: Frank O’Meara and Irish Artists Abroad’. [1]

Applying the first part of this analysis (S and A) to the title of the exhibition, we find that the subject – what it is about – is ‘Artistic Migration’, and the aspect – the narrower theme, the particulars of what it is about – is ‘Frank O’Meara and Irish Artists Abroad’. If this were the title of an essay, I would expect initially to be provided with a definition and discussion of artistic migration in which the following questions might be explored. What is meant by migration? Does it imply living abroad, or merely travelling overseas for extended periods? Does artistic migration mean the movement of artists in one direction only, or is there also a suggestion of exchange?

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A Séance of Objects & Images

SUSAN MACWILLIAM DISCUSSES HER TOURING SURVEY EXHIBITION ‘MODERN EXPERIMENTS’, WHICH WILL HAVE SHOWN AT F.E. MCWILLIAM GALLERY, THE HIGHLANES GALLERY, UILLIN: WEST CORK ARTS CENTRE AND THE BUTLER GALLERY BY THE END OF 2017.

It’s a strange experience when works come back after an absence, materialising from their coffin-like crates or emerging into the light after a decade or more in darkness and obscurity.

A survey show feels like a form of mediumship. Past worlds collide in the present. These worlds are made by me, fabricated in the studio by different versions of myself at different stages of my life. Some works ‘know’ other works, while others meet for the first time – converging like a gathering of relatives, mapping their family tree with regurgitated connectedness. The ancestors are here, having paved the way for descendants and works born of others. Having multiplied, they gather: siblings, cousins, great grandparents, aunts and uncles. Some are more assertive and demanding, while others lurk quietly in corners. Some take longer to get to know yet persist and linger.

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Mark Fisher, 1968 – 2017

Sometime back in the early 2000s, I began following a blog by a mysterious character called ‘K-Punk’. K-Punk wrote with rare brilliance – and at astonishing speed – about music and other idiosyncratic preoccupations: J.G. Ballard’s urban dystopias; films by Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and David Cronenberg; 70s sci-fi TV series; the coastal landscapes of south east England; writers of otherworldly stories like Ursula Le Guin and H.P. Lovecraft; X-Men comics; Christopher Nolan’s Batman; Kate Moss; the England football team. His rapturously eloquent, bracingly erudite posts on pop music – in its various underground and overground forms – were, though, the first to snag my interest. Often, they were hilariously spot-on in their caustic hostility towards sacred cows.

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The Game Has Changed

This column was originally published in the January/February 2011 issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet.

In my column for this publication a few months ago, I called for a new negativity, in the spirit of Herbert Marcuse’s claim that the proper function of art was to be a “Great Refusal”. What better answer could I get than the massive ‘NO’ painted on the grass of Parliament Square in London during one of the recent series of protests against government cuts in the UK? Only four weeks ago, this kind of negativity still seemed to be only a distant possibility in a place like the UK. When, at a conference on public art and civility organised by SKOR in Amsterdam at the end of October, I suggested that there would soon be expressions of massive public anger in the UK, some of the UK-based delegates were sceptical, accusing me of “revolutionary nostalgia”. I was confident that they were being unduly dismissive – but I still didn’t anticipate the scale of the recent protests.

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Shadowgraph: Seeing the Invisible

TINKA BECHERT REFLECTS ON HER EXPERIENCE OF ART AND SCIENCE RESIDENCIES, INCLUDING THE SPARK RESIDENCY IN LEITRIM.

My father dedicated his life to aerodynamics, turbulence research and the then emerging fields of bionics and biomimicry, so I have been around the sciences most of my life. When I was five, we visited the NASA facilities in Houston. Physics had a tangible aura of excitement and adventure for me, but it was only much later that I began to understand how challenging this highly creative discipline really is. My upbringing instilled a firm belief that human curiosity, wonder and a need for reason are shared driving forces across both the arts and the sciences.

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Gut Instinct: Art, food & feeling

Marina Abramovic, Sonja Alhäuser, Domestic Godless, Elif Erkan, Fiona Hallinan, Siobhan McGibbon, Abigail O’Brien, Thomas Rentmeister, Neil Shawcross, Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 25 November 2016 – 19 March 2017

THIS exhibition, curated by Professor John Cryan, Chris Clarke and Fiona Kearney, draws on research by Cryan and colleagues at the Anatomy and Neuroscience department of UCC, in order to “explore how digestion relates to our mental and emotional states”.

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Stop Lookin’ at Photographs!

Locky Morris, Naughton Gallery, Belfast, 8 December 2016 – 29 January 2017

Clock speaker radio, printed mug, foam lining, laser crystal photo frame, photograph, hand cleanser dispenser, sunglasses, workshop broom, photograph, tilt display stand, C-print aluminium plate, mounted photographs, pigmy light, screw, rotating photo cube, painted MDF pedestal display case, photographs, city centre paving block, mounted photographs, cardboard box, office cabinet (adapted), adapted digital photo frame, JPEG, adapted shelf, five-litre Poundstretcher utility box, spool of thread, photograph, plate stand, plastic strips for wall plugs, wall plugs, cable ties, small plate stand, four-gang extension lead, night light, cotton buds, acrylic paint tube, decorating clips, mounted photograph.

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Guest 2

Alice Burns, Charissa Martin, Elaine McGinn, George Robb, Paula Clarke, Stephanie Harrison, Arts and Disability Forum, Belfast, 2 – 22 January 2017

The work of six recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Individual Disabled/Deaf Artists (iDA) grant scheme comes together in ‘Guest 2’, a thought-provoking and challenging exhibition curated by artist Colin Darke at the Arts and Disability Forum Gallery. The exhibition space on Belfast’s Royal Avenue is modest but well-executed, benefitting from large windows and glass walls, which flood the space with natural daylight and create an attractive setting in which to consider the work of this diverse range of artists, whose practices encompass printmaking, photography, glasswork, video and performance.

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