“Location” — An Exhibition


An exhibition in Occupy Space Gallery Thomas St Limerick from January 12 to February 4 2012

Location is curated by Ruth Hogan who presents four artists engaging  with concepts of landscape through the relation of space to the self.  These artists are Jonathan Sammon, Lisa Flynn, Michelle Horrigan and  Elaine Reynolds and their work is delivered through a combination of drawing, photography and Video. The exhibition is balanced in the gallery’s 3 areas  and is well designed in emphasising the elements of place, wandering and discovery that accompany the varied subject matter of ‘Location’.

The statement for the exhibition refers to a collective positioning of intent by the participants through the phenomenon of ‘Psycho-geography’.

The term ‘Psycho-geography’ originated in the late 50s and by the 60s in one of its many interpretations it became a lateral tool of anti-capatilist resistance used by the group of mainly French creatives who designed its outlines.     Its popularity in art circles stems from the visual research methodogies that have been suggested in the various documents associated with the group.

In their writings these ‘Situationist’ writers such as Guy Debord encouraged wanderings and skewed storytelling to develop surreal associations between the urban landscape and a wanderer’s conception of a journey.

These exercises  came to be documented as reconfigured maps and collaged photoworks in which juxtapositions of certain areas and states of mind achieved significance as a result of ‘psycho-geographical’ investigation.   While not a studied disipline, its ethos has increasingly become a reference in many contemporary projects where the communication of an artist’s involvement with place is integral to the reception of the artwork.

Positioned as such the work in ‘Location’ can be experianced both as research documents on the above theme and as individual works referencing its ethos.  As a whole these results respect the lateral overlapping that occurs when it is the artist’s intention to focus themselves (in and out of character) when engaging with both the conventional and emotional history of a chosen place.

Elaine Reynolds’s video in the blackened Gallery 3 animates an unoccupied house in an Irish ghost estate at night.

In ‘On / Off States’, lights dramatically flash the SOS pattern in morse code.  There is the appearence here of something that subverts the conventional image of a ‘mad party’ on the estate should the developer’s dream of that estate come to pass.  Without any sound to direct us otherwise we are left to deal with the scene’s silence as it becomes a visual echo for the chosen landscape and all associated with it.

In its darkened gallery setting, a documentary impression now appears to suggest the holding of a captured warning beacon. The artwork speaks of ‘systems set to a new purpose’ refering to the artist’s personal interest in fallen economic remnants.  More so the simplicity of Reynolds’s performative intervention presents ‘On /Off’ States as an effective, accessible and direct polemical comment on the psychic legacy of the Celtic Tiger.

In a direct micro contrast some of Lisa Flynn’s close-up video work  ‘Drawing Breath’,  ‘Hello Stranger ‘ and  ‘Untitled Breath’  in Gallery 1 focuses on detailed imagery of the body.  By the nature of its filming the work invites a response akin to intimately following a drawing in progress.  Her screens on the back wall now become the curiously interactive visuals that by location can be seen to speak first to the gallery’s window and street beyond.

Johathan Sammon’s boundaries can be regarded as traditionally ‘darker’ representing the sometimes heightened sensory psycho-geographic readings   of landscape made familiar by writers like Ian Sinclair and WG Sebald .   The gothic graveyard looming in Sammon’s film  ‘A Merry Peal of Celebration’ flickers between a 50’s B movie Hollywood set and a sort of 3D european fairytale.  In his presented visual notes it appears the landscape itself has to be unpacked before a path can be traced.  His statement mentions emotional detatchment.

Gallery 2 hosts photos, graphics and a video by Michelle Horrigan who presents a poetic fusion of biographical details of the poet Dante and the landscape of Baux de Provence.  This landscape with its representational rock formations is said to have been an inspiration for the ‘Purgatorio’ section of his Divine Comedy.  Her cinematic video ‘Purgatory’ is a true almost acedemic example of the wanderer making observations, links and formulating a many stranded narrative speculation towards a work that in its final form transends the investigative process undertaken for it.

This engaging show reflects well the curator’s intention to present artists who explore self, identity and place through a prism of landscape without overly referencing the august tradition of ‘Landscape Art’ in an Irish context.   The concept of destination is also collectively questioned in the respective pieces by a variety of macro and micro strategies and this is one of the exhibition’s many strengths.  Location also succeeds as an introduction to the fluid ‘almost practice’ of Psycho-geography by contemporary visual artists.


Weekend Round-up

It’s been a busy old weekend between one thing and another.  Plenty happening.  I managed to check out a fair amount of stuff, but somehow contrived to overlook most of the event I’d been looking forward to all year.  Africa Day.




Still, as Padre Pio once remarked to Mother Teresa, You can’t be everywhere!

Of course we never mention Mother Teresa’s reply.  I can!  Vee old nuns all look ze same!!

I bumped into David Norris, which isn’t something I can say every day.   I have bumped into him over the years on Bloomsday, though tho be honest with you, we’ve always done an alternative version, which involved running away from the Joyceans.  I once found myself trapped on top of the Martello tower listening to an appalling delivery of plump stately Buck Mulligan by a fellow Limericker and wishing I could simply be exterminated here and now.   In many ways, that was the end of my fervent Bloomsday career, though I did manage to collect a fair number of Guinness commemorative glasses over the years, provided you disregard the ones I broke out of inebriation.

Here’s a picture of David at the fruit stall.


And here he is looking a trifle perplexed.

The campaigning can’t be easy, but if it’s any consolation, David will be getting my vote anyway, provided he can manage to secure a nomination.  He’s a fine fellow and we need people like him in public office.  Besides, I’ll laugh myself sick if the Ancient Order of Hibernians have to invite him as President of Ireland to officiate at the New York St Patrick’s Day parade.

There weren’t too many old nuns at the Munster-Leinster match yesterday, but I can tell you one thing.  There was no shortage of sleeveens, gombeens, Nama-candidates, snake-oil salesmen, bunco artists, con-men, chancers and three-card-trick merchants present.  And that’s only the lawyers, before we ever get on to the slew of crooked builders and property developers they represent.

Rarely have I seen gathered in one bar such a collection of uneducated, dishonest gobshites as I witnessed yesterday, every one of them with his snout in the trough and enjoying himself, though collectively they have conspired to bring down our country.  And every single one of the dishonest, uneducated, uncultured buffoons with an inflated and unwarranted opinion of himself, and his leathery wife (who caught her accent off a sunbed).  THankfully, Munster Rugby has produced better things, and  how could anyone beat this?  Let’s just put the cynicism to one side for a second and say Aaaaaahhhhh!

So let’s forget the builders and the dodgy solicitors.  Despite this confederacy of dishonest dunces and puffed-up fools who managed to get a law degree when they used to hand them out with bags of crisps, I managed to enjoy the match very much, and why wouldn’t I?  Wasn’t it a great occasion altogether, as Munster reminded our Eastern cousins that taking silverware from Limerick is no easy matter, unless your Daddy happens to be on the board of Nama, yeah?

It’s about shared values and teamwork.

To be fair, now, I think the Leinster players, for the most part, are a fine bunch of lads and why wouldn’t they be, when you consider how many of them have Limerick connections, but sometimes, the supporters can be, how can I put this delicately?

Unaware.  Would that be a kind way of putting it?

Can be, I said.  Not Are. Not always.  Perhaps not even mostly, but when Leinster supporters make arseholes of themselves, they do it with a vengeance.  At the last Munster-Leinster clash, a friend of mine happened to remark to his mates that he thought Munster were a little too lateral.

Lateral? came the comment from the three Ross O’Carrol-Kellys behind him. That’s a big word for Limerick.  Can you spell it?

Yeah, he said, but can your Daddy spell Nama?

Anyway. Let us not concern ourselves too much with that section of the Leinster support.  They’re very much in the minority, even if they happen to be the most vocal.    I sat next to a fine fellow yesterday, wearing a blue shirt.  He was from Kildare, and when the game ended, we shook hands and wished each other all the best.  Later on, I met many decent Leinster people, and I hope they all enjoyed their visit to our city.  They deserved their Heineken Cup win, and we deserved our Magners.  A fair end to the season.

Apart from the rugby, we had culture in the form of the in_flux art fair.


Very soon now, I’m going to set up a company teaching artists the correct use of punctuation, and I’m going to run a special module for people who run art fairs.  Lecture One will be on the Use of the Underscore.  Lecture Two will concern The Correct Use of Capitalisation.  Lecture Three will be called Do You Write? No? Well Then Stop Fucking With What You Don’t Understand Or I’ll Fucking Kill You All Right???

That all seems fairly reasonable to me.

I’d place underscores in the same category as words like nexus, praxis and zeitgeist.

Guys.  Please.  Ok?

What else happened?

Oh yeah.  Nearly forgot.  We all got pissed on Friday night and made highly inappropriate jokes that would have got the whole fucking lot of us fired if we were Guards in Mayo, which, thankfully, we’re not.

And Africa Day.  Damn me for a fool.