Magazine article Artforum International

Jaki Irvine

Magazine article Artforum International

Jaki Irvine

Article excerpt

DOUGLAS HYDE GALLERY

In Jaki Irvine's installation The Hottest Sun, The Darkest Hour, five short 16 mm black-and-white films (all 1998-99) were projected simultaneously on different walls of the irregularly shaped gallery space. Disarmingly subtitled "A Romance," the installation punctuated the dark with the pale and languid glow of a series of romantic engagements and disengagements. Exploring the nature of intimacy, the play of memory and fantasy, and the seductions and estrangements of language - especially "foreign" language and language difference - these films were developed over the past two years by the London-based Irish artist during protracted residencies in Rome and Tuscany. In a number of Irvine's earlier works the distancing mechanism of distressed and apparently timeworn black-and-white imagery has been allied with voice-overs in heavily accented English. In this latest installation the inevitable evocation of bygone eras and faraway places is tempered by an undercurrent of visceral emotion that seems new to the work.

The simplest of the five films, shot on an Italian mountain in June, was the very literally titled Fireflies at 3 a.m., in which the sporadic sound of frogs accompanies the minimal but evocative glowing of lightning bugs. The longest and most complex film was Marco, One Afternoon, which features the interior monologue of a young man who, arriving at a bar in an unknown city, becomes absorbed in the contemplation of an elegant older man whom he envisages as himself, fifteen years later. The three remaining films occupy ground between these two poles, that is, between the quiet contemplation of nature and the self-conscious disquiet of a young man who begins his restless mental peregrination with the desire "to find a feeling that was mine" only to draw it to a close by deciding that he "had to destroy this feeling. …

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