Selected texts

 

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Gallery texts

All Mountains Are Moving by Nathan O'Donnell 2016
As
foreign as the same must be, exhibition text by Mary Cremin 2010
A line Describing Nothings, extract from the LAB Catalogue by Gemma Tipton 2009
A small polemic, exhibition text by Dr Tim Brennan 2009

Exhibition reviews

And death shall have no opinion, Circa 126 Winter 2008 by Paul O'Brien
Neocredo Pohjalainen Kulttuuri, Torstai 25 / 2008 by Maria Niemi. Translation Maria Nordbäck

Memorious - Circa Art Magazine 2006 by Emma Brien

Curatorial reviews

This must be the place, Extract from Frieze Magazine, issue 124 2009 by Maeve Connolly
Synesthesia sat Circa August 2007 by Jason McCaffrey
Chris Cunningham's Flex, at 5th Gallery, Circa 103 by Lorraine Whelan

Writing by Paul Murnaghan

Essay for the forthcoming publication, 'Don't look back', (10 years of Platform) book launch 6th May 2011 at Platform in Vaasa, Finland.
A place in the sun - The Good Hatchery publication, Celestial salt, launched October 20th 2010, Ryan Gallery, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
Being There - essay on the work of Juliana Walters for The Irish Arts Council publication, 'Surface Tension'. Published 2007





 


As foreign as the same must be is a continuation of Paul Murnaghan's exploration of our perception of reality, of what is seen and unseen. The nature of this type of ontological research is that there is no one definitive truth or belief, the manifestation of which can be both ethereal or object based. Split the lark and you'll find the music is a cyclical mandala in the form of a kinetic sculpture, it employs an optical illusion, which creates a mesmeric state that the audience may inhabit. This play with altered or in-between space within our psyche is prevalent throughout the exhibition.

Murnahan's interest in psychoanalytical theory is ubiquitous in his video piece And I was happy just to breath. This video work recalls Freud's writing on the unheimlich translated as the uncanny or unhomley. The otherworldly is manifested through everyday objects and surroundings. This uncanny experience is prompted when what we view as imaginary appears in reality before us. This idea of disruption of our perception of what is real or unreal forms the basis of the piece. The simultaneous existence of multiple levels of realties or reality enclaves is highlighted, creating an awareness that we only have to shift our attention to this possibility in order to experience other dimensions of reality.

The title And I and silence some strange race is taken from Emily Dickinson's poem I felt a funeral in My brain in which she explores the inner workings of the mind. This piece illustrates the presence of the unnatural and spiritual in the natural world and the transient nature of being. In Avery F. Gordon's Ghostly Matters, she posits that "Haunting is a constituent element of modern social life. It is neither pre-modern superstition nor individual psychosis; it is a generalizable social phenomenon of great import. To study social life one must confront the ghostly aspects of it." Gordon's primary argument is that "that which appears absent can indeed be a seething presence" The ghost becomes an empirical sign that a haunting is taking place. The ghost for Gordon is a social figure where history and subjectivity make social life.

The core of Paul Murnahan's work can be applied to the individual and the universal nature of existence. What resonates in the works is the notion that belief is inherently flawed but it is from these flaws that we construct the collective. The systematic calling into question of belief systems is fundamental to Murnahan's practice, allowing the viewer to suspend or question the nature of truth.

Mary Cremin in an independent curator currently working as part of the IMMA curatorial team.


A line describing nothings

Paul Murnaghan's projects often take the form of invitations. In Memorious (2006), the invitation was an advertisement, in which the artist offered part of his memory to hold the recollection of another. During the next year, Auto Da Fe (2007), was an invitation to believe - as Murnaghan created an artwork, in the soon-to-be-demolished Pallas Heights Gallery, that no one would be allowed to see. Sitting between belief, knowledge and faith and drawing on the generosity of exchange, this latest project,' A Line Describing Nothings', continued these themes by asking people to undertake 'a past life regression', and then to assist in the drawing of artworks based on the recovered, or discovered 'memories'. Wonderful, and somehow surreal, these works are not attempts to solve the mysteries and myths of past lives, collective memory and master narratives, but are instead simply responses to the information received.

Gemma Tipton, extract from ''A line Describing Nothings' , the LAB' Catalogue.


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A Small Polemic

What is the status of this work? Here it is, “Replica of ‘Work no.97 – some blue-tack kneaded, rolled into a ball, and depressed against a wall’” by Paul Murnaghan. It is a direct quotation of Martin Creed’s 1993 work. What interests me here is less the Martin Creedness of the work and more the motivation to replicate it here and now. After all, what might the Martin Creedness be? Well he has certainly drawn attention to himself via his blue-tack, scrunched up A4 paper sculptures, and ‘empty’ room with flickering light. It is difficult to be minimal and Creed has had a pretty good shot at it. He knew that he would upset those that want to see evidence of traditional art craftsmanship whether they be in or out of the art world, whether they be believers in art, agnostics or atheists. Creed managed to carve a recognizable style for himself – not an easy thing to do in the age of style. His works were recognisable as Creed-works. It was a style with predecessors too: Fluxus artists and leftfield systems musicians.

Well done! I didn’t really find it that interesting as I couldn’t find its rough edges only its conceptual neatness that worried me. All I heard were either indignant cries of ‘it’s not art!’ (yawn!) or effusions of ‘how beautiful! It’s so Japanese!’ (how bourgeois!). Then Murnaghan comes along. Firstly as a gallery technician in 2000 with the task of phoning up Creed to get instructions for the work and execute them. I guess I assumed at the time that in some way Creed’s ‘blue-tack’ work was a kind of gift to people in that it offered the possibility for anyone to get kneading and depressing. I had this idea that there was too much art in the world and artists were just making more and more of it. It was a bit like pollution. If art was so easy to make I liked the idea of dissolving it a bit more so anyone could do it. I was a bit naïve and thoroughly utopian about all this and then Murnaghan came to me to say that Creed had been on the phone to say that it had all been done incorrectly and that it had to be done again, re-kneading, re-depressing. I was on my back foot. It all felt a bit elitist (including me in my then new role as Artistic Director of Arthouse). So Murnaghan installed the blue-tack again (really! How pompous the notion of installing blue-tack sounds and is! And then to do it again!) and we laughed it off.

Then Murnaghan comes along again. Secondly, as the lead artist, a decade later. He’s using Creed’s work and ‘installing’ it in this space in Wexford which is called ‘Place’. What’s it all about? Well there are a few things to consider (perhaps as you pull the blue-tack from the walls and roll it all together). ‘Place’ is a much better title for a space than ‘Arthouse’. As a title, ‘Arthouse’ is doomed to fail (however it seems to be much more acceptable in German: ‘Kunstlerhaus’ – yes I’d rather work in one of those). Then he’s assuming an odd role. He’s appropriating a complete artwork (flimsy as it may be). It’s not quite a replica, as it will probably raise the same consternation and irritation as Creed’s. It’s not a replica like a replica Colt 45 which can’t kill you (unless of course it’s the replica’s owner who gets caught by airport security). It is a bit like the replica of a Denby mug which although still a mug, isn’t a Denby. You can still drink out of it but it ain’t got that aura of Denbyness. It does have a bit of Creedness to it (for those in the art-know) but it will still kill you (irritate you or make you scratch your bourgeois goathee in contemplation).

Murnaghan is a bit like the Priest operating in a process of Transubstantiation. The bread becomes the body but is still also the bread. The blue-tack becomes an artwork but is still doing its job. The potential difference between the transition to multiple status of the blue-tack and that of the bread-to-host via the Eucharistic Prayer revolves around whether or not Canon law tells us that it is only specifically bread and wine that can be transubstantiated. There is always the potential that transubstantiation permeates all matter and this might be key right now today for us all to consider. Why? Because theology is the dominant theme of today and yet it is the one thing which educated neo-liberals in the West can’t bring themselves to consider. Zen is the easy art-friendly version of this as all artists and culturalists can cope with its popular ‘everything-is-no-thing’ spin. I think both Creed like his ancestor Cage are both of this school.


But Murnaghan makes it difficult for us - he provides the rough edges.

There must be something inside.


Dr Tim Brennan, 2009
Brennan is an artist and Programme Leader, MA Curating at the University of Sunderland.
Martin Creed’s work was first shown in Ireland in 2000, at the group exhibition ‘Inconsistencies II’, at Arthouse, which was situated in Temple Bar, Dublin. The exhibition was imported from London by Tim Brennan, originally curated by Paul O’Neill.

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And death shall have no opinion Extract from a review of 'Based on our current science...by Paul O'Brien Circa 126 Winter 2008

As a consequence of the intellectual marginalisation of various areas of enquiry that command much public interest, the artistic sphere is one obvious area where claims of 'pseudoscience' can be explored (in addition to TV and the tabloid press). The most interesting - indeed riveting - entry in the show was Paul Murnaghan's hypnosis induced regression (or rather progression) into the future, punningly entitled - with reference to a poem by Dylan Thomas - And Death Shall Have No Opinion. If past life regression is possible, the reasoning goes, then why not try to get a view of a future reincarnation?

Murnaghan gives us a glimpse into a putative dystopian world (shades of THX 1138) where his future (female) self works as a data-controller in an artificial environment hermetically sealed from the 'real' world outside. Exactly what may have happened - whether war or environmental degradation - to bring things to such a pass we are not told, but the accompanying message from the future (we shouldn't be so self-centred etc) is as persuasive as it is hackneyed. Whether the piece actually does give us a glimpse of a future dystopia (or perhaps from a rationalist perspective, of certain fears laid down in the collective unconscious), it is chillingly plausible - not least in the conformist lack of interest displayed by Murnaghan's future 'reincarnation' in the political and geographical conditions of her life.

Neocredo at Platform, Vaasa, Finland 2008

The work that he constructs develops in sections. The Neocredo exhibition at Platform contains only part of the work. The key for the artist is the whole project which has lasted a lot longer than it's current realization.....

The exhibition is presented through four video works installed within a purpose built installation. Content is provided by Finns, Swedes, Slovenes and Estonians and anyone who was willing to add to this universal hymn. The piece is not documentary film or about musical talents, but rather it opens up the psychology of belief itself. This is a far more conceptual work, which questions what lies behind belief. Maybe you have lost your faith, can you attempt to express that?
The translation of the exhibition title encapsulates the projects content. In Latin 'credo' means 'I believe'. The neo- prefix renews the concept. Murnaghan re-examines our faith.

The exhibition contains three video works, which have been placed in consciously difficult positions, and the fourth video is seen only when darkness arrives. This underscores the importance of content out of reach. Maybe we do not understand our own belief. The sculptural form of the works is also intentional, using conventions of sculpture itself where the sculpture is raised so high on a pedestal that you almost cannot see it. He has commented on this tradition by building a raised pedestal from recycled wood. The three videos are embedded in, lifted up and placed in narrow spaces in violation of conventions.


Review from Pohjalainen Kulttuuri, Torstai 25 / 2008 by Maria Niemi. Translation Maria Nordbäck

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Memorious
- CIRCA Art Magazine

Memorious, Paul Murnaghan's latest enquiry into human interaction calls for our participation in a simple but provocative way.

I met Murnaghan last week to share a memory with him, for which I am indebted. The encounter opened the floodgates and left me sitting holding my wax-sealed certificate, wondering why I'd responded with that particular memory and where it would nestle in the company of all the other memories he has collected. I wondered about the variety of performances he had encountered and how it must feel to process that kind of information.

In trading something as evanescent as a memory, we encase the selected recollection with another layer of importance, monumentalizing the memory and sustaining it. What we bring to the performance is chosen autonomously and is therefore inadvertently a presentation of the perceived self. As our perception of our present self is inextricably linked to the past, a monumentalized memory should persist and be prompted to the present more readily, as a reminder to the present self of a past self. By superimposition, memories become obfuscated and less accurate; it's not by voiding memories that we forget, it is by the addition of newer experiences. Memory is "finite by nature" and also needs signs or prompts to "recall the non-present" . As Murnaghan wrote out my memory, I considered that his perception of my memory would of course be entirely different from mine and its influence on him subjective to his own past. While the act of writing functions as a visual engram in the mind, the essence of the memory is captured in another way and locates the memory within the familiarity of past experience.

I understood the meeting as a phenomenological exercise, a recollection of an experience that is shared for the purpose of enlightening my own self-awareness and contributing to the listener's understanding of human emotion and interaction. By taking a phenomenological attitude, we ask the experience to explain itself to us and respect it for its role in our personal development.

By Murnaghan's advertising his memory space to a consumer, the selected memory is subject to the value you deem appropriate. This was my biggest dilemma surrounding the event and as a result I am now in debt. The sealed certificate I received and this piece of writing are the only physical testaments I have to my memory and the new event that now surrounds it.

For me this monument is not about to topple any time soon.


Emma Brien © Copyright 1999-2006 CIRCA Art Magazine
www.recirca.com

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Curatorial reviews

This must be the place

Extract from Frieze Magazine,
issue 124 - June /August 2009

The interest in archival modes of presentation in contemporary art over the past few years has also recently been contested by some Dublin-based artists. ‘This Must Be The Place’ (2009), curated by Paul Murnaghan and Sally Timmons, presented works by ten artists’ collectives at the inaugural exhibition of the self-styled, artist-run Irish Museum of Contemporary Art (IMOCA). Located (just like IMMA) outside the city centre, IMOCA is housed within a leaky, disused warehouse rather than a preserved historical landmark. Participants in the show were asked to respond to a specific question – How Do We Think? – in any form other than an archive.

The results were startling both in terms of scale and form. Artist collective The Good Hatchery, based in a converted hayloft in a rural area of county Offaly, built a large structure (entitled The Solution, 2009) that referenced Bernd and Hilla Becher’s canonical images of water towers and catalogued some Irish examples, while also dispensing water. Pallas Contemporary Projects presented The Greatest (2009), an electric-powered golf buggy, custom-fitted with leopard-print fur, alongside a quote (‘I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was’) from Muhammad Ali, who was apparently a previous occupant. Visitors could steer this vehicle, like a lone fairground bumper-car, around the warehouse at a fairly rapid pace and the experience of sitting in a seat supposedly once occupied by Ali added a temporal dimension to the visceral sense of spatial dislocation. By invoking a compelling historical example of self-transformation in response to the question posed by the curators, The Greatest opened up new vantage points on a familiar scene with a confidence worthy of Ali himself.

Maeve Connolly
A writer and lecturer based in Dublin. Her book, The Place of Artists’ Cinema: Space, Site and Screen, was published by Intellect in May 2009. The full article can be accessed at http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/dublin/

 

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Synesthesia sat


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Flex:Chris Cunningham at 5th Gallery Guinness Storehouse November 2002 - January 2003

Sex and death sells. Apparently, this is something well-known in the commercial world of advertising but I am not sure what the logic is behind it (how could this be logical?). The human fascination with sex and death is well documented, however, and in the art world it was especially popular at the turn of the last century, in the era of the 'femme fatale'. In his book Femme Fatale: Images of Evil and Fascinating Women , Patrick Bade puts this obsession down to the prevalence of syphilis among Bohemian artists, and the romantic spirit of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

In flex at the Guinness 5 th Gallery, Chris Cunningham deals with a variation of this theme, concentrating on sex and violence. Perhaps it is my own romanticism surging forth, but while Cunningham's variation is scarier to me, I believe it wholly relevant to the turn of the millennium: terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the ravages of AIDS form the backdrop to personal terror, as there is a growing awareness of abuse and the realisation that the 'enemy' is usually a trusted member of the community and/or family. Although I tend to be wary of exhibitions that come with a warning (as this one did), suspecting the artist and/or gallery of wanting to promote sensationalism, to be suspicious of flex would be to trivialise one of the most thought-provoking videos I have ever seen.


Chris Cunningham: flex , 2001, video installation with sound; courtesy of
Anthony d'Offay Ltd, London who commissioned and produced flex

Before entering the gallery space, loud, electronic sound (created in collaboration with Richard D. James) is already heard. The video itself is projected onto a complete wall of the square gallery, so one is within a cinematic environment. There is a definite narrative too, so it is important to watch the complete video - which, while it emotionally may prove difficult, is visually stunning.

In a nutshell: from darkness a beam of light illuminates the naked forms of a man and woman who are first seen in the protective spoon embrace; on separating they are both overwhelmed by violence to each other, and the video ends with the woman crawling back to the embrace of the man. The video is filmed in such a way that the human forms are 'other' in that the perspective is distorted and details are too defined. What one hears is a type of hyper-realism (movement, breathing, the meeting of flesh on flesh) and the familiar Hollywood notion of a space vacuum - the impossible sound of the hollow scraping of air... While the video seems to be black and white (as a viewer I found some irony here as I thought of Guinness commercials gone terribly, terribly wrong!), there are subtle hints of colour: the man's ear and the woman's lips are pink. Both the man and woman have very fit, muscular bodies and their interaction is predicated by the white light - at some points they seem to be interrogated, their actions and violence towards each other seem to be caused by this light. Here I considered the effect of the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey , and with this in mind, it is no surprise that Cunningham has in fact worked with Stanley Kubrick. In art and literature 'the light' traditionally represents goodness and truth; in flex, while not necessarily malignant, the beam of light reveals nakedness and fear (like the apple of knowledge in the Garden of Eden).

Given time and space, I would be able to write a tome on Flex. Cunningham is an experienced maker of videos in the music industry who has brought his expertise and vision into the art world. Fabulous production and thoughtful work; no naval-gazing here, this is video as it should be.

Lorraine Whelan is an artist and writer based in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

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Writing by Paul Murnaghan

Memorious

To the people of Vaasa: I, Paul Murnaghan have failed as your monument, as your memory, as archivist, as keeper of things private, passionate, frivolous and long pondered. For this, I wholeheartedly do not apologise. Maybe I should rephrase this? I'll start again with a little less grandeur.

To the people of Vaasa: (who where participants in Memorious). Overtime the memories that you entrusted to me have become jumbled, mixed up with my own life and at times, completely erased. For this, I must admit to being human, to being sidetracked, flawed and often only concerned with myself.

Using this confession as a starting point, I will try to describe Memorious, the reasoning behind it, the process and some of the memory that still remains intact.I had decided to look upon myself as a monument. Not a monument to any specific ideology or event but one that would commemorate things personal to any individual that contacted me. I would attempt to monumentalise moments, memories, wishes or lies, too insignificant or subjective to qualify for the traditional notion of monument. I had previously visited some of these more traditional works in Memento Park just outside of Budapest. These enormous statues to a fading ideology stand awkward and confused, no longer intimidating or inspiring, like some vast monument to the unemployed. This experience, coupled with a keen interest in the formation of myth and memory, and a sentence from the book Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, formed a catalyst for this work. Barthes states that, 'Earlier societies managed so that memory, the substitute for life, was eternal and that at least the thing which spoke death should itself be immortal: this was the monument.'

Memory was the first monument, and so, this was what I became.

To begin with I will describe how Memorious usually works. Firstly, I place an advertisement in relevant newspapers, this may also be sent to web databases and advertised in any place where people gather. I offer to barter the space in my brain that is allocated to memory, in exchange for whatever the participant deems fit. In Vassa this took the form of anything from cigarettes to a walk, books, food, a lot of coffee and small objects or mementos of relevance to the individual. I liked these mementos as they often act as mnemonic devices and help me to recall the context and content of a meeting. The only document of these small events is my own summation of what has been recounted, which is ritually sealed in wax there and then and given to the participant as record of the memory that I will attempt to maintain. Though I still walk around with many peoples' memories inside my head, I cannot claim as to their veracity (I never really could). I am at a disadvantage to the givers, who will doubtless remember the content, as it is something which each of them considered for quite a while before deciding to engage in our rendezvous. This is the first part of the process. Choosing which memory one would like to monumentalise. The questions begin: What sort of memory should I bring? Why this particular memory, what is it's significance and why would I want to elevate it above others? Even if this is as far as it goes, the work is functioning. I, on the other hand had a different set of questions, mainly regarding what memories I might receive. I felt that I could become some sort of substitute for a psychologist or priest. I thought that people might offload psychological baggage that they no longer wished to carry around. It is an old, cathartic trick. Talk about it, write it down and then dispose of it. I was quite wrong. I never received any horrific tales of suffering. The memories and meetings were varied but for the most part people chose simple, joyful memories. Moments with loved ones and family or quirky, meaningful incidents that had stuck with them over the years. I have enacted Memorious numerous times and on some occasions there would be several meetings per day. I would leave these meetings repeating the recollections in my head and trying to carve them into the synapses of my brain. At times this resulted in a strange sort of twilight existence, where I found myself remembering other people's past as my own.

I felt an empathy with the fictional character 'Funes', who had also inspired this work. 'Funes the Memorious' is a fictional account of a meeting between Ireneo Funes and the author, Jorge Luis Borges. Funes is a poor but gifted boy who is involved in an accident where he falls off of a horse, hitting his head. This leads to an anomaly where by he perceives everything in absolute detail and remembers it that way. This amazing ability incapacitates the boy and condemns him to a world of intolerable perception, where he spends his days constantly consuming a vast array of information for which he has scant understanding and little use. When I am working on Memorious, the line between fiction and reality can become a little blurred. One particular occasion springs to mind as an example of the diverse thinking that people can bring to this process. A man contacted me, we agreed to meet and when seated with our coffee he spent over an hour describing his father's funeral in detail. He spoke of the people that attended, the priest who had never met his father but pretended camaraderie for occasion, the make of funeral cars, the smell of fresh, damp, earth, the weather and his overwhelming emotions at the time. When I had written a summery of this into the document, burnt the wax and sealed it. He bartered the memory for a French film on DVD, a tangerine and the right arm taken from a broken statue of Jesus Christ. He then thanked me and told me that he had enjoyed the experience and was glad to get it out of the way. His parting comment informed me that his father was alive and well and that he hoped to visit him later that week.

News about Memorious in Vaasa mainly spread through word of mouth, or curiosity, when someone saw me burning the wax and would inquire as to what I was doing. The process was not always appreciated, especially inside of restaurants or canteens but once I had explained what I was doing the owners were usually quite accommodating, (I have since invested in a electric wax gun but it seems to lack ceremony). The café at the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art became the site of many encounters, with a varied body of people from all ages and walks of life. Some took me outside to the water or to a site of specific interest and relevance to their memory. On the night of the MOPE performance festival when I thought that I had finished, I was asked to store memories several times. These requests were mainly at a party and many of the interested persons were fairly inebriated. This is not an aid to memory, (mine or theirs) but it does allow people to be less inhibited and to relate in more passionate detail. It was a rather cold night and I remember sitting on the steps of what was once an old army barracks attempting to write text and melt wax in a freezing breeze. As I write this, I am trying to remember the content of individual memories but what is foremost in my mind is the cold, constant smoking, the series of short but intense relationships and a gift of a small book which is now sitting beside my laptop. It seems that a monument may often loose its original function or meaning, whether physical or ethereal it is damned to suffer a process of temporal disintegration.
When considering the concept of a monument, it is apparent that it may take many forms, often depending on culture or belief system. In fact the object may be of least importance, as it is merely a means to construe information regarding ideology, person or event. Though in many cases, it is only the physical form that remains. I allow myself to envisage moments in the future when people may come across the sealed documents at the bottom of a drawer or secreted between the pages of a book. When they decide to break the somewhat important looking wax seal and engage with the memory that someone has seen fit to preserve. In this instance the memory is passed on to a new vessel, returned to its originator and I become defunct.

Returning to Memento Park and it's forty-two pieces of art from the "Hungarian-Soviet Friendship" and "Liberation" between 1945 and 1989. I was struck by the sheer scale of these works and how they now huddle together as if to take solace from each other and to collectively ignore their original function. Thankfully, memory is subjective and the self-protection mechanism of being able to selectively ignore and forget may be just as important as being able to remember. When I now try to recall the many memories that I have been given over time, I feel a connection to these fellow monuments, in that I fail at my task. But then I think that to truly become a monument, one must at some stage fail. I seem to remember that before my metamorphosis, I was once an artist and I use this fact to hastily cover my retreat.

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A place in the sun

Wet nosed, dark flat bog. Full moon. Thin dry crack underfoot, seeing breath, the smell of cold air. Vague shapes in the low light. The sound of earth displaced from it's chosen shape. A low vibration, erratic bass spreading evenly across the rough shadow. Sound travels well out here, sound that is not of here. I am not here. This is a memory, not mine but others. We talked in a room in the city center, for about an hour, about a place and how it may be changed by things put in it. And things, changed by where they are placed.
All this is secondhand, second viewed, rumored fact remembered.
One thing that I am sure of is that there are reasons for the placing of forms in the landscape, many of these are forgotten though their echoes are still present. Some star alignment, eclipse, sacrifice, deity, protection, a foreign thing sacred to early breathers of cold bog air.

You wanted this here because it would not normally be. Now that it is, what have you done?

Tony drives for a living, long hours, seated, smoking, all scapes are one now. Living on automatic takes a toll. Extended periods of abstracted thought while a separate body reacts to light, sign, and instruction. The truck cab smells of human occupation. The Star, Mars bar looks down on small cars. Taken to the odd amphetamine to pay for Christ's coming, always expensive this time of year. Nearly home. Country roads, too small, too curved, surging and slipping toward a static place. To be still.

Even in his favorite chair, always in the same position, front of the T.V. It takes a day before the feeling of motion starts to subside. Driving through Corrie, through football, through the private rooms of willing celebrities. The history Channel, Hitler or Egyptians, Egyptians or Hitler, always the same deal. A well-dressed man communes with the dead while the studio audience applaud. Something catches, a catalyst, jerks a stored image, a light, a form, a pyramid. Recently seen in the wrong place. Small pills and long hours explained it well enough but still, something was there for sure. Close by in a familiar nowhere, covertly viewed from a discreet distance.

The moon was distracting, bright pockmarked circle with a halo of soft gray. Host on high. The bog is flat, low lit and deserted, though not quite. Something is moving in the middle distance, silhouettes, bodies absorbed in some kind of ritual. They are humming, it's hard to hear over the engine. The truck restrains inertia, firmly guiding each cog into place, slowing towards a better view. Window down, lights off. Bodies part, there is an object on the ground, triangular, bright, moving and full of colour. It's hard to perceive but something is caught inside of this object. It morphs and loops, offering sporadic sights from domestic to geometric. It seems as if it has witnessed these things and now turns them over in it's own mind. Curtain, wave, flight, ball, colour, cone, an erratic waltz, a jostle for place in equilateral windows. This thing is alien here, unnatural but somehow precise at this moment in time. Take in the whole view, bright circle, a line, and bright triangle. A child's toy, a puzzle, beacon, message, siren. Who is this for? Is it for me? Tycho Brahe sends his best. One of the forms moves behind the object, a face partially lit from below. It stares straight this way.
Gun the engine. First, second, third, gone.


So he comes home Friday night, plonks his arse in front of the telly as usual, not a word, silence, caveman. I try to make conversation, " How was Belgium, anything exciting, did you get me something nice, y'know, a surprise"?
Usually takes him a few hours to come up out of the mute stage. I suppose it must be the long hours without conversation, lulled into a sort of vegetative state by the repetition of the engine. Actually, the washing machine can be a little like that sometimes, kind of hypnotic, repetitious, comforting. I'll even light a fag and sit with my eyes closed on the powdered floor of the warm utility room.
Quite pleasant really.

Anyway, next day he's back to his old self. I wake to the smell of bacon frying, recent shower and too much deodorant. It's the weekend, a breather between work and more work, words are back on, he hugs me as soon as I enter the kitchen, and he even fried for two. After the usual catch-up he falls silent again, an ominous sign. He looks up with an odd expression on his face. Stares at me intently as if he doesn't even know me. I'm waiting for it, something major, next bloody thing to bring the world down on us. But then his face visibly softens, lifts mug, slurps tea, toast chaser and swallow.

"I think we should go to Cairo".

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Being there

Juliana Walters does not belong where she is. Her attempts at being there are fractured at best. From Metropolis to village, non place to potential asylum, nothing is found to be any greener. This is most evident in her diverse articulations through drawing, sculpture and video installation.

In the video work 'Spaltung', we watch as she physically struggles to link somewhere just out of our sightline, to her presence within the imposing aesthetic of a visually mutating forest. This punctum link is tenuous, never fully forged, snapping back past the peripheral in an instant. The result of this retort is the multiple splitting of her digital persona in a digitized space. This same split echoes through much of her work mirroring our contemporary existence as we endeavor to live in ever changing environments and velocities, adopting new psychologies as inertia buffers.

Walters struggles with an internal polemic, concepts are subtly revealed by the insistence of opposing direction, what may seem visually still is sure to be vibrating at its core. The work exudes an acute awareness of her domestic, corporeal and existential existence through metaphorically mapping her immediate experience. This most personal viewpoint may seem at odds with stated concerns relating to the effects of spatial supermodernity but it somehow manages to probe these issues through focusing on an ontological sterility imposed by her surroundings.

There is a constant tension and imbalance palpable here, its cause is displacement. At her core, Walters is a transient city dweller, well used to city culture and its social flick switch. When circumstance conspires to immerse her in domestic routine and rural isolation, the absence left by such a massive shift in her life rises to the surface. The installation entitled 'Seven days again', builds on this tension by listing all of the familiar family garments that have been washed and dried to assemble enough substance (lint garnered from a tumbler dryer) to construct the piece. The aesthetic is soft, clean and abruptly gynecological. The nature of the habitual has made this material, layered, pliable, an archive waiting to be exposed. It puts one in mind of the kitchen implements fashioned by Mona Hatomn, their familiarity, unwarranted sharpness and charged cold steel. Things proverbial yet treacherous, exposing a sense of discomfort mediated by something deeply personal.

Walters has made use of elements such as heat, light and structured time in a practice that engages the familiar whilst tentatively probing its underbelly. Elements of nature are artificially reconstructed or rendered in deceptively simple substances, which on closer examination reveal far more about the concerns of this artist then the immediate aesthetic. Past works have exhibited a degree of playfulness by placing seemingly 'obvious' elements to the fore and challenging the viewer to go beyond the surface. For those that attempt to engage with this strategy there is always reward. A delicate balance is being attempted in this new body of work, no solutions are offered, just documents of observation and fragile equilibrium. It is within this struggle, this perpetual emotion that Walters considers and defines her practice; the residue of being, lending line and form to describe an existence.


Paul Murnaghan

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Paul Murnaghan is Curator at Place, an experimental model fusing both contemporary art practice with self-sustaining strategies.
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