In the Flesh 2016
In The Flesh curated by Sheena Barrett at The Lab Gallery, Foley St., Dublin 1 runs from January 28th - March 12th 2016.
Selection of stills from In The Flesh (Re-enacted) 2016
Media: Single Channel Full HD digital video projection, Colour, Stereo sound.
Duration: Approx 8 min, looped.
Filmed on location at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks.
Featuring Hannah Power (Conservator, National Museum of Ireland).
Camera: Guy Robbins
Camera Assistant: Jonathan Sammon
Soundscape: Joe Harney
Editing/Post Production: Caroline Doolin
Selection of install images and details from I Know Things About Heat & Skin 2016
Media: Sculptural installation with folded aluminium, ballistic gels, roma plastilina clay, physiotherapy resistance bands, physiotherapy putty.
This solo exhibition comprised of a body of sculptural and video based works - the culmination of site visits and collaborative conversation with historian Brenda Malone at the National Museum of Ireland over a twelve-month period. The work has developed through a perceived interaction between the historian and what is known as ‘the peoples collection’, a set of objects donated to the museum by members of the public, following the wake of a significant military rebellion against British colonial occupation in Ireland in 1916.
Objects related to turbulent periods and violent acts (fire arms, incendiary devices or printed manifestos) all have a tendency to self-destruct due to their inherent chemical or physical compositions. They require stabilisation and care in order to ensure that they continue to exist. Vocabulary used by museum conservators to describe different types of deterioration: words such as weeping or blistering are often verbs that could be used to describe trauma in the human body. The appropriation of this language as a subversive tool is central to this work, filmed on location upon a site of previous colonial presence.
Highlighting the act of conserving an object originally used for destructive purposes, in this video imagery of the hands of conservator Hannah Power carefully attending to the body of a rifle becomes almost performative. This enactment seeks to allow for a meditation upon the nature of how we preserve such pivotal representations of turbulence - in the hope of gaining greater perspective on the weight of those issues that surround them.
A second video work is based upon footage from the museum store at Collins Barracks and the lives of artifacts there, donated by the relatives of those who were involved in the 1916 rising. The ‘peoples collection’ comprises of a set of objects which act as palimpsests: a hip flask (used during the violence of 1916) bears fingerprints of rust - betraying the sweat of its former owner buried within the fabric of the metal, alongside a hat with traces of the trajectory of a bullet that passed close to the skin of the protagonist’s scalp) expose a less sanitized and perhaps more human connection with the past.
The objects housed in storage are never revealed to the viewer (as they would be shown ‘in the flesh’ in a museum setting) – instead they are depicted through a scripted prose, giving voice to that which has been posited away from destabilising atmospheric contaminants, human touch and light.
Shown alongside this footage are a set of folded aluminium structures, interspersed with objects fabricated from modeling clay, ballistic gels and soaps (materials used by museum professionals and police departments to simulate how human flesh reacts to trauma caused by the penetration of bullet or blade). Amongst those items are a set of pinched sculptures, worried and molded through the heat of the hand, exploiting the plastic memory of physiotherapy putty and resistance bands to reference trauma and physicality in both the inanimate and the human body.