Ireland Round-Up

By Laws, Joanne | Art Monthly, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Ireland Round-Up


Laws, Joanne, Art Monthly


The Model * IMMA * Void * City Factory Gallery

Three immersive works form artist Phil Collins's solo exhibition at The Model, Sligo. Through photographic and cinematic processes, Collins highlights the appropriation of British social realism and music subcultures in far-flung places. While seemingly anachronistic or nostalgic, these works also evoke reflection on contemporary globalised realities, mediated with compassion for the human subjects, amid many humorous and tender moments. dunia tak akan mendengar, 2007, is part three of the video trilogy the world won't listen, 2004-07, which portrays devoted fans of The Smiths in Colombia, Turkey and Indonesia performing karaoke-style renditions of the band's songs. Posters advertising this phase of the project in Jakarta and Bandung are presented at the entrance to the sound-proofed space alongside a large-scale photograph of a defaced Britney Spears poster: britney, 2001. The frequent lack of finesse displayed by the singers in the film is largely overcome by their impassioned deliveries. Their devotion to lead singer Morrissey is evident in the mimicking of his accent, sullen gestures and trademark microphone swinging, with each rendition more endearing--more infectiously uplifting--than the last.

free fotolab, 2009, is an assemblage of photographs taken by people in various European cities presented as a slide show. In return for free film-processing, individuals relinquished all rights to their images, allowing Collins effectively to 'see behind the net curtains' of these cities. Encountering raw, unedited, 35mm domestic snapshots, the viewer is compelled to piece together emerging narratives. Through recurring depictions of birth, death, sexuality, leisure, faith and celebration, private moments of human togetherness are propelled into the public sphere. the meaning of style, 2011, is an exquisitely composed short film, fashioned to resemble a pop video, featuring a group of young Malaysian, anti-fascist skinheads. While the men's striking attire (tight jeans, braces, bomber jackets, bovver boots), anachronous left-wing music publications and 'Oi!' branding conjure visual links with 1960s British working-class subculture, other elements align more closely with the Asian, post-colonial context. A scene depicting butterflies seems suggestive of Eastern exoticism, while repetitive bell-ringing and left-facing swastikas resonate with Buddhist symbolism. In this setting, shaven-headed men appear almost monk-like, attesting to a 'butterfly effect' within Collins's work, which tracks the incongruous evolution of culture beyond its original conditions.

In The Line of Beauty, currently showing at IMMA, Dublin, aims to identify a unifying aesthetic for a generation of emerging Irish artists, referencing Alan Hollinghurst's novel of the same name and William Hogarth's 1753 text The Analysis of Beauty as points of departure. The mainly sculptural works are presented across four rooms, offering curatorial reflection on integral components of form and image-making. In the first room, drawing as a spatial configuration is alluded to through interactions between Aleana Egan's sculptural work Shining Element, 2011, which combines common building materials to form a post-minimalist-style boundary marker, and Oisin Byrne's bed-linen flags, which present Egon Schiele-like ink drawings of reposing young men. Mass and form are embodied in a subsequent space, where Ciaran Murphy's new oil paintings present abstract ghostly contours, echoing Hogarth's 'serpentine line'. Sam Keogh's Oscar Kiln, 2013, is a 'garbage can' laden with ceramic off-cuts, heaped to form the lumpen silhouette of Sesame Street's Oscar the Grouch--a self-confessed hoarder of junk. In another room, Keogh's found containers (coated in layers of plaster, ink and varnish) assemble on a mantelpiece, masquerading as misshapen, glazed ceramics. Here, the material and conceptual features of vessels are further explored, with Ciaran Walsh's dual sculptures A Time for Superlatives, 2013, appearing as hollowed-out, architectural maquettes or prismatic, other-worldly portals. …

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