‘Trans-lucent Flag’, ‘The MART’, Rathmines, Dublin.

Response to ‘Trans-lucent Flag’, at ‘The MART‘, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland. May 2014.

By Terence Erraught

The building itself contradicts the stereotype closed door gallery, by existing within an old Firestation, with it’s huge front doors wide open, tempting the public to enter. The funny side of this welcoming entrance, is the fact that for this exhibition there exists a temporary sign that reads: ‘EXHIBITION CONTAINS EXPLICIT NUDITY’. Its function does not seem to be recommending an age limit or anything, just seems to want to advertise the explicit nudity…

 

sign

Sign that met visitors, warning of explicit imagery

 

I had a look around before I read the attractive “translucent” leaflet for the exhibition.

At the main entrance hung a sculpture, just inside the doors. Being at the entrance, it was inviting to walk through, but also emanated an unnerving sense of fragility as I got closer. It danced a little in the breeze, like two puppet legs. The structure was a well fabricated paper construction (apparently from a single sheet of paper) resting on the ground, suspended from the ceiling with what appeared to be fishing tackle. After looking at a specific section, the folds formed a beautiful network of shadows and highlights.

 

Detail of 'Transcending Column'

Detail of ‘Transcending Column’

 

One of the charms of the MART front gallery is the immense height and opportunity that accompanies it. This work highlighted the fact that I have not seen much work testing this opportunity, or abusing it in any pushing way (but is early days for the young gallery). This work definitely took note of the height available. There was an obligation to use a word such as monumental in order to gain access to the confrontational-(ly) positioned sculpture. It appeared to be caught between scale and craft with a pinch of fragility. I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed by the way it was suspended. With notions of gravity, the piece seems to have been shot dead out on the plains of sculpture land, and was hung here for the artist to show off his/her wears. It felt lifeless (when not dancing in the breeze). The true beauty of its origami-(ised) construction just seems to go against the weight it brought about itself. This response could be perceived as a bit harsh, but I just feel that there was maybe other options available given the space for this well considered fabrication (especially on later reading that this was a site-specific piece).

 

Transcending Column

Alex Pentek
‘Transcending Column’
2014
Single sheet of folded paper (dimensions variable)

 

In what must be described as the main space of the front gallery, there stood a messy assemblage of objects, images and a sense of rough, brutish aesthetics. There were free standing harsh metal ‘easels’ of sorts, roughly welded together, with blank boards of differing materials resting on them. Scattered about, (but contained within and under the ‘easels’) lay a number of pornographic images torn from magazines amidst other items. On these the artist painted, framing some scenes or highlighting elements through painting and scribbling. These were pretty intense pulling and probing of ladies and mens ‘bits’. There also was a range of charts and layered / ordered lists roughly painted onto pages, not to mention other curious objects. A rather large rubber mallet, for example, the likes of which a small giant must use. A bronze handle on which sat a bronze pointing finger. Organic in appearance, were bronze fingers, bundled together not unlike the formation of a plant. I was very curious and confused. There was so much going on here it was difficult to focus on any one item. Saying this there was a strong overall sense of ‘collection’ to the work. If that wasn’t enough, projected into this beast, was a digital video projection. This displayed a range of psychedelic patterns that perhaps a mathematician would produce. I pondered if the painted over images were created upon these ‘easels’, but were unable to be worthy of a space on them or the weight of meaning behind them was just too heavy to support them. The thumb/finger of bronze sitting next to the pornographic imagery, alluded to the potential application of such devises. A sense of power, degradation and what is justly part of an existing system, lay waiting to be used under a sculpture.

 

James McCann 'Monomania 3 2014 Mixed media sculptural installation

James McCann
‘Monomania 3’
2014
Mixed media sculptural installation

 

A few feet away, stood another element of the installation. Comprising of another ‘easel’ next to a bucket with a bronze / gold looking face inside. It was difficult for me not to jump to associations such as Josef Beuys (opens in new page) here, and the bucket as the artist’s go to prop. There was a simpler set up with this part, that allowed me the space to engage with the work on a higher level. At this point it has struck me that I totally forgot to mention that there was another sculptural element to the work… Hooked metal poles hung from the ‘easels’, in the shape not too dissimilar to an umbrella, with what appeared to be globules of plaster, morphing at different stages of a metamorphosis into human heads. These hung like bats, waiting to drip all over the pages and objects below. The head in the bucket was illuminated specifically, which gave it worth and presence above a lot of the other objects. Could this be (in the image of) the creator…??

 

James McCann 'Monomania 3 2014 Mixed media sculptural installation

James McCann
‘Monomania 3’
2014
Mixed media sculptural installation

 

In the second / back gallery lurked two works.

The set up here allowed plenty of room for either piece, and the darkened space with spotted lighting created a sense of focus.
This really was in contrast to the heavily flooded (by daylight) front gallery and felt considerably calmer and controlled.
The first piece was a digital video projection onto the wall. The projection was a looped work which displayed a still of a mountain top, snowy peaked, a traditional notion of what an impressive mountain top should look like. A transition / slide of the same image moved from off camera to left. This was a mirror of the same image. At times creating a butterfly effect (remember folding the half painted page over itself in school?), or maybe that of the psychologists to determine your woes {Rorschach Inkblot Test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorschach_test)}. Being a looped work, the viewer has no notion of duration, other then the length of its single action. This is assuming that it does not alter beyond a visual that I noticed. Time and place, emigration and land. Evolution, duration and how perhaps we are replacing that which already exists. I can’t help feel it maybe linked more strongly to a lineage of painting rather then sculpture, but sat well in the room, next to an installation which contained notions of land and alteration. I found it not the easiest to connect with as a spectator, and wonder how other audience members found their time with this work. Perhaps I missed a context, in terms of the group show.

 

Amamda Rice 'Looking back at Endstal' Duration 2.11, looped HD video projected on Vinyl, Dimensions variable

Amamda Rice
‘Looking back at Endstal’
Duration 2.11, looped
HD video projected on Vinyl,
Dimensions variable

 

The final piece in the show was nested in the final corner of the gallery. Softly illuminated, one was heavily drawn towards it. Made out of a combination of functional working objects and sculpted bronze casts, the work related to the theme of farming. The one thing that bothered me amidst the very carefully and well made installation, was the placement of the power adapter (just sitting out in the middle of the floor). I felt this was out of place in contrast to the rest of the piece’s well considered installation. The piece comprised of organic soil material, bronze castings of asparagus (possibly two types of metals were used), motorized machinery and an air compressor which sprayed some fine liquid onto the soil and casts. This was in a circular set up, with the arm rotating within the circle of the soils epicenter. The arm had a nozzle which synched to the air compressor, catching the casts with the spray as it passed. As the compressor worked, a sound like that of a life support machine was heard through the room. The casts of the asparagus sat rigidly upright, poking out from the soil. Usually with motorized kinetic works, I like to get seduced by the functionality used and allow ones self to be mesmerized for a time. This work was no exception. Two bottles with some very scientific writing on it, Ethanol and Ether, sat in the center. I heard of these many times before, but did not know the true use/origin of them . I assumed this was sprayed onto the sculpture, in order to corrode and tarnish them. A power play of machine, man and nature. Natural and the ‘made’. This piece creates a wonderful marriage of these elements. It is a synopsis of how integrated each is by the other, and we are always trying to harvest the other’s resources to varying degrees of purpose (but a bit one sided). There appears to be some testament also to the notion of time, erosion and the state of our food producing system. With an obvious use of liquid elements, this work really makes the viewer want to read the leaflet on the work to get to the bottom of the concepts at hand here.

 

James L Hayes The essence of taste' Cast iron & bronze electrical motors, compressed air, actuators, sprayer / atomizer, soil& compost, stainless steel, motion sensors and filtrated asparagus essence and ethanol.

James L Hayes
‘The essence of taste’
Cast iron & bronze electrical motors, compressed air, actuators, sprayer / atomizer, soil & compost, stainless steel, motion sensors and filtrated asparagus essence and ethanol.

 

As a Dublin based man, I was not previously aware of these artists. So was very excited to see a group show of their work. It was a rather refreshing to experience new names and some new materials differing from the usual Dublin art crew.
I did have a read of the exhibition blurb. This was a fancy document made from see-through acetate. This was fun, and actually not as difficult to read as I thought it would be (physically).
As an accompanying article I found it lacked the usual info (which is not necessarily good or bad, just a different approach) such as who curated the show or wrote the thing. There was a detailed blurb on each artist’s work that I am guessing were supplied by each artist. They gave a very concise discussion on their practices and the work in the show. Parts of this are very academically written to the point where philosophies are used and are difficult for me to bring back to the physical artwork itself.

 

Exhibition leaflet

Exhibition leaflet

 

In this response, I found I discussed both the work itself, and how it was situated as a group show. There was an expanded explanation in the articles in the leaflet.

For me the show was great to see in Dublin. New names and work unlike much I had seen of late here in this county. Some of the works brought a bit of confusion to me, and some appeared stronger then others, for varying reasons. Along with the academic writing, any confusion that arrived with the exhibition makes me hungry to learn more on the subject.
‘Translucent Flag’
2nd – 11th May,

@ ‘The MART‘ , Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland. May 2014.

Artist websites:

James L Hayes

Alex Pentek

Amanda Rice – none provided

James McCann

Photographs by Terence Erraught

 

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