Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously

Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 21 April – 17 June 2017

‘Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously’ sounds like nonsense, and it is – a phrase coined by Noam Chomsky to be grammatically correct but semantically all over the place. In this ambitious exhibition curated by David Upton, five geographically diverse art practices explore ideas of transient or un-locatable meaning via their own un-locatable objects, objects rendered by impressions and residues, and images deviating between fact and fiction, movement and stasis. A story in the exhibition booklet describes the fate of Byzantine icons bought at a Turkish Bazaar in the 1920’s. Eventually ending up in the National Gallery of Ireland, the icons, separated from their original place and function (and unable to return to a home that no longer exists), have been opened up to new kinds of meaning and attachment. The exhibition booklet usefully outlines some aspirations, among them, “To open discussion around ideas of dissolution and dispossession, loss, of cultures in crisis and futures altered, of cataclysm – and [ask] what happens after all of this?” That’s a lot to ask of a single exhibition, but the fate of the icons becomes a unifying concept, a paradoxically fugitive underpinning.

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Embracing Complexity

FIONA WHELAN TALKS ABOUT THE ONGOING PROJECT ‘NATURAL HISTORY OF HOPE’ AND EXAMINES SOME OF ITS HISTORICAL ROOTS AND TENSIONS.

In a 2012 lecture, Tom Finkerpearl used Monty Python’s popular 1979 satirical film The Life of Brian to illustrate a point about a crisis in the art world. [1] At an angry confrontation between the People’s Front of Judea, which the character of Brian had joined, and another activist group, the Campaign for a Free Galilee, Brian calls out to suggest that they should in fact be fighting their common enemy: the Romans. Finkerpearl uses this comedy moment to highlight a tendency in the art world to become consumed in ideological arguments pitting one form of creative approach against another at the cost of a collective fight.

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