Catharine Clark Gallery announces this little bag of dreams…, a group exhibition of Contemporary Irish Art, co-curated by Nathan Larramendy (San Francisco) and Josephine Kelliher (Dublin). Works in painting, sculpture, installation, and videos are presented by seven contemporary Irish artists living and working in Ireland: Aideen Barry, Lorraine Burrell, Maud Cotter, Seamus Harahan, Niamh McCann, Tom Molloy, and Garrett Phelan. The exhibition dates are July 23 through August 27, 2011. A panel discussion moderated by Leigh Markopoulos, Chair of Curatorial Practice MA Program at California College of the Arts, will be held at the gallery on Saturday, July 23 at 3pm, followed by the opening reception from 5 to 7pm co-hosted by Consul General of Ireland Gerry Staunton. A literary reading will be presented at the closing of the exhibition, on Saturday, August 27 at 1pm, followed by a reception.The exhibition and series of events at Catharine Clark Gallery is part of Imagine Ireland, a year-long season of Irish arts in America in 2011.
Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams;
Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.
—W.B. Yeats from the poem Fergus and the Druid
In his retelling of the mythological story of Fergus and the Druid, William Butler Yeats could be speaking about the contemporary anxiety that drives us to dissect and decipher life; to seek detailed insight into our present and our future. King Fergus was a troubled Irish historical figure who consulted a Druid and was offered what; perhaps, we all both secretly yearn for and dread: the “bag of dreams” that contains all knowledge of what is past and what is to come. In the throes of a dilemma—an existential crisis—a BIG answer seems like the only solution. Indeed Fergus opens the bag, and by the poem’s end, he “know[s] all”. This knowledge, however does not quell his anxiety; by knowing all, he has robbed himself of the hope that comes with uncertainty. He is as sure as death and is futureless. So what particular bags of dreams does today’s world require, where are we to find it, and how deeply should we even seek it?
Artists routinely undertake a search of a different kind to that of Yeats’ Fergus. Their searches are for the possibility of ideas, for opening up visions of the future, and are, perhaps, less maddening than absolute truth. Artists inhabit the fertile and satisfying territory of mystery and imagination. There are, after all, no absolutes, and there is no comfort in clinging to the shifting sands of so-called “proven” truths. In their various ways the artists in this exhibition take facts and realities, disassemble them, and run permutations and combinations of “what if” scenarios. Their “bags of dreams” are visions of an infinite variety of truths and futures; and in this noisy global society, their work is more crucial than ever as they pause to interrogate, refocus, or review how things are, or how they might be different.
Artists often interact with materials, news, facts, and realities in a manner that is not in the least scientific; working with serendipity, curiosity, and a healthy skepticism of rules and regulations. In these days we need reminders of those facilities and faculties more than ever. The artists in this exhibition put such endeavors under the microscope of making, and of seeing, and in the results of their experimentation are to be found both hope and despair. W.B. Yeats, Fergus, and yes, the Druid too, would have been proud, and also highly intrigued.
Co-curated by Nathan Larramendy (San Francisco) and Josephine Kelliher (Dublin); part of Imagine Ireland, a year-long season of Irish arts in America in 2011.
Culture Ireland is the state agency for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide, working under the aegis of the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport. Culture Ireland creates and supports opportunities for Irish artists to present their work at strategic international festivals, venues, showcases and arts markets. The agency comprises a board appointed by the Minister and an executive staff led by the Chief Executive. www.cultureireland.gov.ie. Imagine Ireland is a year-long season of Irish arts in America in 2011, an initiative of Culture Ireland, with funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport. www.imagineireland.ie.
Aideen Barry was born in Cork, and in 2007 she received her MA from the Institute of Art, Design and Technology IADT Dublin. In 2009 she undertook a residency at NASA and she is currently at Headlands Center for the Arts, California. Barry’s depiction of a manic housewife in a new Irish version of “cookie-cutter” suburban sprawl is all too real, though alarming. She magnifies the current obsession with germ-warfare and ponders the possibility that this sterilizing of the environment will alter humankind both psychologically and physically. The “Dystopian Domestic” that Barry references, merges the everyday with the futuristic and her Weapons of Mass Consumption takes the war on germs to a militant level.
Lorraine Burrell is from Belfast where she lives and works. She completed an MFA at the University of Ulster in 2005 and has since exhibited both nationally and internationally. Burrell uses her home, house and garden, and her studio/workspace as a site for exploring notions of family dynamics and the entrapment of gender roles. Although the artist herself is often plainly visible - she is in fact the actor/protagonist in the work—her identity, her real self, is truly elusive or fugitive. She benignly assumes awkward or uncomfortable costumes and poses, trying out or trying on a role or image of herself, imagining all the possible futures encapsulated in a life.
Maud Cotter is an established Irish artist based in Cork city. She describes material as “generic matter capable of many disguises, each of which can communicate the nature of existence.” Her work frequently incorporates found objects chosen for their emotional as well as formal qualities. A repeated characteristic of Cotter’s work are the clusters through which the work takes on the collective intelligence of a swarm, coalescing to form a way of investigating the nature of matter, and its use and abuse through overproduction. In her work, made objects appear to be expressing a wish to extend beyond themselves into a more transcendent existence after all.
Seamus Harahan was born in London and grew up both there and in Northern Ireland. He holds an MFA and BA (Hons.) in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in Belfast, where he lives and works. Harahan’s work is a consequence of where he is and, occasionally, where he places himself. His films take the form of experimental documentaries: films of found activity. These works are a visual consequence of an absent-minded gaze—locating oneself, locating others, mapping emotional and intellectual spaces, being part of the moving mass—the accumulation of meanings in the dislocation of the familiar, where narratives recede in the minutiae of gesture and sound.
Niamh McCann is a graduate of Chelsea College of Art and Design London, an Irish artist who lives in Dublin. Her playful practice explores riddles and conundrums around themes of globalization and urbanization. McCann works with found materials that she alters and then reconfigures to create alternate scenarios; these include industrial processes and situations, logos, newspaper montages. Materially and physically McCann's pieces are seductive; they combine harsh domestic gloss surface with mirror panels, neon works that have the radiant glow of cheap commodities and yet attract with their slick beauty. McCann splices references from intuition and imagination with memories of clichéd tourist spots and urban signs, all evoking complex discourses in which varieties of representation and the ‘real’ collide.
Tom Molloy was born in Waterford and received his MA from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. He works in a remote region of the West of Ireland, and in Northern France. He regularly exhibits internationally and is in many major collections worldwide.Molloy appropriates imagery, sometimes subtle work-a-day images or familiar references from art history, iconic imagery that has become incendiary though over-exposure, or else current or historical images from mass media and the Internet. All are used with the aim of encouraging a powerful dialogue. Issues of both personal and political freedom, gun culture, democracy, capitalism, globalization, and peace are considered; however, Molloy is careful to avoid overt arguments, describing his work as humanist rather than political.
Dublin born Garrett Phelan’s work The Last Broadcast Revelations casts the Mynah bird in the role of a dark prophet with worrying access to the tools of propaganda. The bird alternates from the voice of darkness to the voice of hope, from a seer of devastation to the prophet of possibility. Phelan constructs bizarre but convincing narratives through sculptural sound works, animations, drawings, and zines that parody our experience of the (re)presentation of the real with such deadpan earnestness that they seem more like factual recitation than purposeful storytelling or polemic artworks. Phelan has participated in major international projects including Manifesta 5, San Sebastian; Art Statements: Art Basel 39; and a Hayward Touring exhibition The End of the Line.
What............... A panel discussion on contemporary Irish art
When............. Saturday, July 23, 3pm (preceding the reception for this little bag of dreams....)
Moderator..... Leigh Markopoulos, Chair of Curatorial Practice MA Program at California College of the Arts
Panelists...... Artists Aideen Barry, Lorraine Burrell, Maud Cotter, Seamus Harahan, Niamh McCann, and special guest Amanda Ralph, artist and Lecturer at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology.
Where........... Catharine Clark Gallery, 150 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
What.............. A reading by three contemporary Irish authors
When............ Saturday, August 27, 1pm
Authors......... Kevin Barry, Philip ÓCeallaigh, and Julian Gough
Reception.... Directly following the reading
Where.......... Catharine Clark Gallery, 150 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA 94105