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Catalyst Arts at Monster Truck

P.O.V (points of view) 

17th May – 15th June, 2013

Ciaran Hussey / Aisling Kane / Tonya McMullan, with Jordan Hutchings / Duncan Ross / Andrea Theis

The practitioners featured in this exchange between Catalyst Arts (Belfast) and Monstertruck are all connected to and/or based in Belfast – a city that is often subject to misrepresentation as a result of frequently one-dimensional, myopic (international) press coverage of events.

The works shown in P.O.V. (points of view) in different ways examine, subvert or challenge ideas surrounding the theme of representation, questioning how a perception of a particular place, subject or of the human condition can be mediated by the method used to portray it.

Dead Air, Ciaran Hussey’s three-channel video/sound installation, explores the themes of expectancy, media representation and the deferral of arrival.

Referencing The Theatre of the Absurd – particularly Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ with its themes of failure and breakdown of communication – Dead Air features found footage of TV reporters in stasis and unaware of the gaze of unseen viewers as they await some form of response, command or instruction from those behind the camera.

 

The redressed power balance and altered relationship between subject and viewer generates an uneasy state of suspense; the humorous, awkward atmosphere amplified by the waiting room-esque melody of a generic, midi-file version of the song ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’. Hints of vulnerability, confusion, dissatisfaction, vanity and boredom interrupt the reporters’ normally carefully constructed onscreen confidence and scripted emotional reactions.

 

Plate 36 from Goya’s The Disasters of War depicts an army officer taking pleasure from his installation of a corpse. The image of Lynndie England, joyfully posing with a row of naked and masked Abu Ghraib prisoners, has become notorious – the photo ‘tableaux’ constructed by her and her fellow soldiers perpetuating through the World Wide Web as a collaborative opera aperta.

Duncan Ross’s Fail is an object extruded from this image, selected for its meme status as one of the most disseminated and widely re-appropriated images available online.

 

Roughly the size of a typical computer screen image, the cross stitches mimic pixilation and provide a disconcerting contrast between the handmade quality of the object and the subject matter of the original image – domestic labour used to sew a folktale from its palette of flesh and military. Ross outsourced the fabrication of the piece to Wai-Fun Wong, introducing an additional state of mediated reproduction.

 

Many of those living in the area of north Belfast known as the Ardoyne, especially men, are often misrepresented in the media. By taking portraits of close friends and members of her family, Aisling Kane aims to redefine and reclaim a place that is still regarded with unease, offering a different, unmediated perspective of what could be considered to be a ‘hidden’ community.

Photographed in domestic spaces, Kanezo, James and Gabe provide an account of men from this community who, in their half-naked, tattooed state, appear almost vulnerable and yet are also powerful and iconic. They are depicted in a situation and context that, in collaboration with Kane, has ultimately been determined, decided and approved by them.

 

“The Lure of the Local is the pull of place that operates on all of us, exposing our politics and our spiritual legacies.  It is the geographical component of the psychological need to belong somewhere, one antidote to a prevailing alienation”.

The postcard is a nostalgic artefact – an unsealed message imbued with memory, distance and the ideals of tourism.  Here You Go began as a participatory postcard project that invited members of the public to mark and describe a place of significance on a postcard mapping a mile radius (with the gallery PS² in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter at its centre)

 

Since then these locations and recollections have been photographed by Jordan Hutchings and Tonya McMullan. The photographs aim to capture the locality as it is today while still referencing the personal significance of the initial contributor.

37 of the original 60 postcards and their re-imagined doubles are now on display at Monstertruck. They show views and recollections of the city, of the places that are and the places that were, presented by those living in it.

 

The touristic act of photographing Weimar’s iconic monument of Goethe and Schiller in Andrea Theis’s mixed media installation Reviewing Image Disturbance serves to generate meaning for the visitors to this site – a record of their presence in a city that has created a (cultural) identity for a German nation. Theis’s intervention, carried out over a period of five days, questions this experience. Her presence at the monument, and in the images taken of it, places her in a situation where she is at once in a position of power and also highly vulnerable, exposing herself to a range of responses from tourist faced with this unexpected interruption (documented on the wall-mounted image panels).

 

The video documentation of the work is projected on to the window of the gallery, creating an interplay between the time-lapse CCTV footage of crowds visiting the statue in Weimar and the unceasing flow of passers-by and tourists traversing Dublin’s busy Temple Bar district.

 

The methods used to visually represent a subject or place are becoming increasingly problematic in a society in which visual imagery holds so much currency and its distribution is instantaneous and widespread. What is undisputable in each of the works in P.O.V. (points of view) is an awareness of the inherent power vested in the act of capturing, (re-) appropriating and (re-) presenting an image.

 

 

P.O.V (points of view) | 2013 | 2013, Archive, The 10s | Comments (0)

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