'In The Flesh' curated by Sheena Barrett at The Lab Gallery, Foley St., Dublin 1 runs from January 28th - March 12th 2016.
Still from In The Flesh (Re-enacted) 2015/16
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
..this material nestled against my flesh, becomes like flesh. This is its subtlety, but also its sovereign power: everything in it – plasticity, instability, fragility, sensitivity to heat, and so on – suggests the feeling or fantasy of flesh….it is above all a matter of inquiring into the more subtle, more anthropological, yet also more textural connivance between this material and the simulacra of the flesh..’ (George Didi-Huberman discusses the plasticity of materials in ‘Wax Flesh, Vicious Circles’ in Encyclopedia Anatomica: A Complete Collection of Anatomical Waxes (New York: Taschen, 1999).
This exhibition comprises of a new body of sculptural and video based works - the culmination of site visits with historian Brenda Malone at NMI Collins Barracks over the past twelve months. As well as drawing from her expertise in the area, the work has developed through a perceived intuitive interaction between the historian and the objects in her care - attempting to address the past through a presence in the present – a corporeal response to the visual, sensual and haptic nature of working with material evidence.
A new video work pivots around footage from the museum store at Collins Barracks and the lives of artifacts stored there - donated by the relatives of those who were involved in the 1916 rising.
Playing upon the idea of the inanimate versus the animate, the objects housed here are never revealed to the viewer (as they would be shown ‘in the flesh’ in a museum setting) – instead they are depicted through a subjective scripted prose and soundscape, giving voice to that which has been carefully posited away from destabilising atmospheric contaminants, human touch and light.
This 'peoples collection' – (the body of artifacts was accepted into the museums' care following pressure from the public),contains many items that denote the corporeal, their very presence illuminating an absence. A hip flask used during 1916 – bearing fingerprints of erosion upon the surface due to the sweat of its previous user, a felt hat – showing the trajectory of the bullet that may have passed close to the skin of the scalp, propose a sense of visceral endurance and unrest, exposing a less sanitized, conventional and perhaps more human connection with the past.
Objects related to turbulent periods and violent acts – fire arms, incendiary devices or printed manifestos all have a tendency to self destruct or break down due to their inherent chemical or physical compositions – and require a level of considered 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 a change or trauma in the human body. The appropriation of this notion of language as a subversive tool is central to the work featuring this site of previous colonial presence (Collins Barracks),transgression and how function evolves over time.
Highlighting the act of conserving an object originally used for destructive purpose is not intended as a commentary upon the glorification of war, weaponry or conflict – but allows a space to reflect upon the meticulous care that the museum carries out. In a second video work, imagery of the hands of conservator Hannah Power carefully attending to the body of a rifle becomes almost performative. This representation of 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.
Shown alongside this footage are a set of folded aluminium structures, interspersed with objects fabricated from modeling clay, ballistic gels and soaps – 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, molded through the heat of the hand, bearing its fingerprints - exploiting the plastic memory of physiotherapy putty and resistance bands – referencing the human body and its relation to the inanimate material.
As such, In the Flesh seeks to explore alternative and more visceral forms of commemorative practice, existing as a meditation upon destruction through an appropriated language of conservation.
Still from Sometimes the house of the future is better built II 2013
Single-channel HD video projection, surround sound
Camera by Neil O'Driscoll. Soundscape by Joe Harney
We are suddenly somewhere else
April 27 - June 9, 2013
Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality
The Butler Gallery is delighted to present a collection of new and existing object- and lens-based works by Bridget O'Gorman. In the exhibition We Are Suddenly Somewhere Else O'Gorman invites the viewer to interact with a series of open-ended narratives related to place - or rather an experience of it.
Linking poetic, philosophical, historical or eyewitness account with contemporary site, O'Gorman makes installations using a range of media from photographic or moving image, food to utilitarian materials such as silver or bone china. Occasionally slipping into the structure of a semi-fictional, museum-like display (using vinyl text, found object, reference documentation and plinth) those narratives act as indicators, highlighting the importance of the viewer's individual and past experience in connection with the subject.
In addition to re-imagining existing work, O'Gorman has created a new installation for the Butler Gallery based upon it's future site - Evans Home. The artist projects imagery of the gallery's future site in its current state of dereliction. The accompanying soundscape denotes a human presence, still hanging in the air - along with the suggestion that something is about to happen. Originally an almshouse for 'decayed servants', the transitional spaces - thresholds, hallways and stairwells - of this 19th century building, itself in a state of transition, are revealed, allowing the audience a glimpse of the remnants of it's recent history as a domestic asylum and a library store. Capturing strong traces of it's former use as an institution, the installation prompts a recognition of the significance of this past for the present, including the role of the gallery as a potential catalyst for communicating alternative perspectives; for making the 'private' public.
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In works entitled Neither Here Nor There and Sketches for Faraway Places O'Gorman explores another tangent where re-enactments and places (both physical and psychological) are imagined, described or reinterpreted. Drawing from historical documentation and account, the installation references local historian Edward J. Law's research on William Grace - a 19th century character whose fate was connected with Evans Home. Using stereoscopic and double imagery of seascapes from varying perspectives, the work speculates upon duality, displacement and upon the simultaneous desire to be - or imposition of being - somewhere else.
The artist would like to acknowledge the Cork Film Centre, the Artist-In-Residence programme at the National Sculpture Factory supported by Cork Arts Support Team, and the assistance of Fire Station Artists' Studios through their Digital Media Award Sept-Dec 2012.
With grateful thanks to The Arts Council for essential annual funding and to the OPW, FÁS, The Heritage Council, and the Kilkenny Local Authorities for additional assistance.
 Of Other Spaces, Michel Foucault; Jay Miskowiec Diacritics, Vol. 16, No. 1. (Spring, 1986),pp. 22-27.
French theorist Foucault on 'the ever-accumulating past' and what he coined as heterotopias (eg. museums, ships, mirrors etc)
Still from All Places Are Distant From Heaven Alike 2012
Single-channel HD Video with stereo sound.
Commissioned as part of Dig Where You Stand (South Tipperary Curatorial Residency 2012 - curators Eilis Lavelle, Sarah Lincoln and Rosie Lynch).
DIG WHERE YOU STAND
South Tipperary County Museum, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary 6th July - 28th Sept 2012
Susan Hiller (UK)/Bridget O'Gorman (IE)/Uriel Orlow (CH)/Philippa Sutherland (IE)
Dig Where You Stand has developed from a curatorial residency, initiated by South Tipperary Arts Office, and based in South Tipperary throughout 2012. The project includes a series of reading events, exhibitions and a publication. Previous reading events have been hosted in various locations throughout the county. A publication edited and coordinated by Sarah Lincoln and designed by Sean O' Sullivan will be launched to coincide with the exhibition. It includes texts by Sarah Lincoln, Eilis Lavelle, Rosie Lynch, Sean O'Sullivan and contributions by Philippa Sutherland and Bridget O'Gorman.
'All Places Are Distant From Heaven Alike' 2012 The title of the work is a quote from Robert Burton's 1621 exploration of the causes, symptoms and possible cures of depression in 'The Anatomy Of Melancholy'. A first edition volume of this work is housed as part of a little known collection within the Bolton Library on the Cathedral grounds in Cashel, Co. Tipperary alongside works by Machiavelli, Dante and Swift. Exploring the library and its surrounds, this video reveals medieval manuscripts and countless volumes of 17th, 18th and 19th C literature entombed in the silent space.
The video alternates between imagery of an interior place of reflection or stasis and the continuous movement of the exterior graveyard: views of open skies at dawn, cathedral structures pointing heavenward over earthy tombstones, dewy foliage, birdsong and insects. In the 17th century Burton posited the notion that we as human beings are always searching for a 'greater other' an imagined place, rather than simply being happy in our immediate surroundings. The scholar writes in detail about depression or 'melancholy', a book that is often considered to be the first study of human psychology.
Often deemed as 'the 21st C disease', periods of depression or reflection still exist as a significant part of the human experience.
Using the structure of the cathedral, 19th c library and the surrounding graveyards as a backdrop or ready-made set, the work is a meditation on an irrepressible passing of time, human reinvention and a recognition of what has gone before. Although Bishop Bolton stipulated that the collection should never leave Cashel, for its preservation and safely the library will be moved to the University of Limerick in the near future.