Leaving Little Trace, But Whispers…


Response to a Request 1 was an online publication I started in July 2016, and which came to an end, for the most part, in June 2017. Over the course of its brief run, I somehow managed to convince the following people to write for it: Kathy Tynan, Kevin Breathnach, Niamh McCooey, Nathan O’Donnell, Lizzie Lloyd, Adrian Duncan, Joanna Walsh, Ian Maleney, Susan Connolly, Jonathan Mayhew, Darragh McCausland, Emma Dwyer, Sam Keogh, Sue Rainsford, Michael Naghten Shanks, Suzanne Walsh, Ingrid Lyons, Sabina McMahon, Eimear Walshe, Dennis McNulty, Fergus Feehily and Niamh O’Malley. However, as I prepared for the belated closing event that took place on the 2 of February at the Douglas Hyde Gallery – presenting three final responses from the artist Isabel Nolan, writer Mike McCormack and poet Stephen Sexton – I was faced with the task of articulating why I started Response to a Request at all. What, exactly, was its aim?

I’m not sure there really was any distinct aim with the project, but let’s assume that Response to a Request was set up to address a modest need or even a perceived lack within Irish art writing. Was it successful in this aim? One way of traditionally gauging success is, of course, through a growing or at least stable readership; and, more typically now, through a sustained and visible currency on social media. But the problem is that Response to a Request vanished just as quickly as it appeared. The website is dead and the texts are not available to read anymore. Granted, I knew this would be the case when I first conceived the idea, but this material dearth makes its assessment – as success, or indeed failure – much less clear-cut. On a personal level, there’s also something distinctly self-sabotaging about editing a publication that leaves little trace but whispers. Continue reading “Leaving Little Trace, But Whispers…”

Spatial Assemblage


I became interested in identity politics in second year of my Visual Arts Practice degree at IADT Dún Laoghaire. Terms like ‘appropriation’ had begun to penetrate the pop culture sphere, which caused me to evaluate the work I was making in terms of my own cultural perspective. My practice has become an extension of the types of socio-political commentary that have become increasingly prevalent throughout the internet via social media and the public sphere. The internet is a particularly pertinent platform because it offers itself as a vehicle for research, while also providing its own kind of spatial interventions.

Historical art movements such as Arte Povera encapsulated ideologies regarding art and the everyday, defined by Italian art historian, Germano Celant, in terms of people against systems. The system he speaks of falls in line with many concerns regarding present and future assimilation and commodification of queer bodies. When Celant states (with regards to art production) that “each of his gestures has to be absolutely consistent with his behaviour in the past and has to foreshadow his future”, he highlights a tendency towards defining intangible ideas, people and gestures relative to historical contexts – a concern widely shared by queer theorists.1 Such concepts resonate with my own interest in making and are particularly relevant to postmodern notions of the everyday, whereby computers and digital spaces have become primary models of communicating and recording, generating vast archives of personal data – uploaded to clouds and easily accessible from anywhere that has an internet connection.

For me, the repositioning of these historical narratives inside a queer framework has become interesting, based on a capacity to subvert and to create new narratives. Where queer theory practices see understandings of the term as relative to history, it is constantly being defined and redefined as that narrative progresses. The type of assemblage techniques that underpin my two-dimensional research and digital collages, echo the same process interests found within my sculptural assemblages. Compounding the two approaches has expanded my ideas about image deconstruction and reconstruction. Judy Chicago’s installation, The Dinner Party (1979), is a pointed reference for my work, based on how the piece wrote a new historical narrative by placing a certain value on kitsch over the aesthetic object. Documenting the process of making a physical sculpture and deconstructing it through collage techniques; reconstructing and printing this form as another physical object – this amounts to an aesthetic investigation of how we read images and objects. It also questions whether the documentation of process embodies the transience of queer culture more apparently than a finished artwork. Continue reading “Spatial Assemblage”