Category: Critique


Hang Tough Gallery, Dublin
20 July – 3 August 2019

An exhibition is the considered placement and grouping of things that talk to each other about, around or alongside certain philosophical and/or conceptual concerns; it is a gathering and expression of ideas or thematic inquiries underlying visual conceits. The exhibition press release can provide a summary of, or guide to, such activity. The conceptual framework for ‘FIX’ was to exhibit photographic work by five artists, that has strayed or become ‘un-fixed’ from the self-defined constraints usually found within their individual practices. The exhibition press release acknowledges the artists’ diverging creative … Read the rest

‘Fast Slow Fast’

CCA Derry~Londonderry
8 June – 10 August 2019

My day-job is punctuated by a variety of tasks, one of which is to create and circulate promotional images on displays. Source imagery arrives through inter-office email, mostly as custom-ratio JPEGs, PDFs, or on occasion – and most laborious of all – as PowerPoints. You might assume that this is mundane work; however, to someone with my interests, there is something profound about this cutting, pasting, alpha masking and exporting. The images become temporal objects, displaying evidence of their imperfections, rearrangements and cropping, but only remain for however long their promotions are … Read the rest

‘A Modern Eye: Helen Hooker O’Malley’s Ireland’

Gallery of Photography / National Photographic Archive, Dublin
21 June  – 1 September 2019  / 21 June – 2 November 2019

‘A Modern Eye: Helen Hooker O’Malley’s Ireland’ begins with a striking display of wanderlust, inquisitiveness and enviable means. An adventurous artist, born into a wealthy American family, Helen Hooker began her life-long habit of itinerant practice from a young age. Among the early shots, which document people in Mongolia, Japan, Korea and China, is the avant-garde painter Pavel Filonov, with whom she was training in Russia, taken in 1924, when she was in her early twenties. Amidst the artist’s … Read the rest

‘Do Governments Lie?’

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
6 June – 27 July 2019

As part of this year’s Belfast Photo Festival, the Golden Thread Gallery simultaneously held three very different exhibitions, at three very different qualitative levels: Philippe Chancel’s excellent and subtle observation of life within North Korean ideological strictures; a dispassionate survey of political discourse on social media by Marc Lee; and a terrible, ostensibly anti-Trump installation by Erik Kessels & Thomas Mailaender, which is so devoid of the potential for critical engagement that the president would, I’m sure, greet it with gleeful delight.

Philippe Chancel’s ‘Kim Happiness’ consists of a selection … Read the rest

Marianne Keating ‘The Ocean Between’

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
21 June – 22 September 2019

Awareness of Ireland’s involvement in the history of the British colonial project is generally one-sided, with national imagination focusing on the ‘epic’ Irish struggle against England, rather than acknowledging Irish social or cultural exchange within the wider world of empire. Marianne Keating’s exhibition, ‘The Ocean Between’, fulfils a vital role in redressing this imbalance, with rigorous research and nuanced, objective presentations. Her seven film installations are the result of years of archival research relating to the largely forgotten history of indentured Irish labourers in Barbados and Jamaica, and are linked … Read the rest

‘See you tomorrow’

Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh
2 May – 7 July 2019

‘See you Tomorrow’ – an ambitious collection of public projects, led by Australian artists Elizabeth Woods and Kevin Leong – has transformed Sirius Arts Centre into a hub of activity. On first impression, the space was busy and alive, albeit slightly confounding. Bread machines whirred in one corner of the room, while leaflets were scattered across a table in another. A video work depicting a serious looking performance of semaphore occupied one end of the space, while at the opposite end, a pile of booklets lay under a bell jar. … Read the rest

‘Social Commons’

Liberty Hall Theatre, Dublin
2 – 12 May 2019 

Francis Fay, The Knight of Mirrors, 2019, performance, 2 May; photograph by Kathryn Maguire

Presented in the congenial lobby, stairs and bar areas of Liberty Hall Theatre, ‘Social Commons’ was curated by Kathryn Maguire and Siobh McGrane for May Fest – SIPTU’s “celebration of workers’ culture”. Where the ‘commons’ denotes a shared physical resource, ‘social commons’ can mean a dispensation of peer-to-peer relationships, parallel to private and State structures, aimed at promoting a ‘general good’. The term refers not just to redistribution, but to transformative communal self-understanding. At the base … Read the rest

Karen Daye-Hutchinson ‘A Harlot’s Progress’

ArtisAnn Gallery, Belfast
2 May – 1 June 2019

‘A Harlot’s Progress’ refers to William Hogarth’s series of the same name – a moral tale of the short life of one Moll Hackabout, who travels from the countryside to London, falls into prostitution, and succumbs to syphilis and death. Artist Karen Daye-Hutchinson’s interpretation of the sequence goes beyond the scope of Hogarth, not only in comprising 12 etchings (as opposed to Hogarth’s six engravings), but also via a prologue in which we learn the motivations of the young woman to leave her ‘shit hole’ of a village and seek her … Read the rest

Sven Anderson and Gerard Byrne ‘A Visibility Matrix’

Void Gallery, Derry
16 April – 8 June 2019

I’m standing in a dark forest. I can hear an ambient rustling and that distinct murmur of the wind, only audible to a fabric microphone. Disconnected rectangles of leaves and sky are visible at eye level; I can briefly feel the forest as I look up towards the grey-blue light diffusing onto the walls. Then a voice declares: “Abort! Lacking power or effect” – and it’s gone.

A forest of identical televisions is installed in pairs throughout Void’s galleries – some are back to back, others at perpendicular angles. Each screen … Read the rest

Hannah Fitz ‘OK’

Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
23 April – 25 May 2019

Hannah Fitz’s exhibition, ‘OK’, comprises eight crudely sculpted life-size figures of boys cavorting clumsily around the spartan environment of the Kerlin’s white cube. The premise for the gathering is a mob of football fans on match day, as they crouch, stand, jostle, show off and celebrate, alone or in pairs around the gallery. 

One can’t help feeling pity for their rudimentary facelessness and gawky execution in dirty white plaster, while at the same time trying to figure out the relevance of their lumpen physicality and apparent worthlessness. The few props that … Read the rest