Three Times Ten
Joseph Beuys envisioned the construction of a new social order as the ultimate work of art. Art would save us from our archaic and rotting social structure and reinvigorate mankind through the transformation of every individual into a creator of the revolution. The work of Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile upends this proposition; society as a work of art becomes art creating society. His lyrical and entropic site-specific installations are daily work, social meeting ground and sacred place for the local population. Ó Fraithile's structures have transformed varied sites from Japan to Ireland to Dallas, sometimes remote or forgotten but always with an attentive connectivity to their surroundings. Simple materials such as bamboo, cloth, thatching, fire and water become almost primordial in the artist's hands, referring to nature's inevitable and sometimes merciless, cyclical change. The inclusion of ritualistic ceremonies and performances in collaboration with the immediate community establish a fundamental reverence for the land, the inhabitants and their developmental history. Ó Fraithile fuses the roles of artist, architect, archaeologist and cruise director, his work becoming a nucleus which collapses past and present, isolation and socialization, fragility and permanence. He earnestly embodies a Beuysian ideal, while resisting political pedagogy. Exquisite drawings on handmade paper are made up of a language of symbols which communicate this same yet far from linear equation, in which the artist transforms destruction into renewal. The tiny burning houses in these drawings reflect Ó Fraithile's entire enterprise, shedding irony and erupting into connection and resurrection, just like post-modern wild fire.