Preview: 6pm, Friday 27 September
Runs: 27 September–20 October, 2019
Kevin Gaynor | Brigid Mulligan | Sian Costello
Exploring the artistic process in its various stages, In Situ exhibits the work of all recipients of the 126 Gallery’s 2019 Artist Residency Award – Gaynor near the end of his residency, Mulligan before her October residency and previous resident Costello. The artists responded to an open call for our residency programme in 2019 centred around our current “Unset in Stone” theme which looks at the role of the monument in contemporary art.
Rooted in the Latin monēre (to ‘remind’, ‘advise’ or ‘warn’), a monument is often an aesthetic object that serves an ambiguous collective function. The evolution of this function shows the ways in which old myths are repurposed during shifts in power. In providing a particular image of the past, a monument helps us to visualise the future. Each resident artist presents a unique approach to the theme, whether documenting a loss, readdressing the artist-subject relation or asking how and why aesthetic objects claim to speak on behalf of the many.
Kevin Gaynor looks at the limits of traditional symbols of collective identity in a period of mass migration and displacement. How is this experience of displacement to be collectively understood and represented? Migrating a Sun transports the Mediterranean sun to Ireland. Its warmth heats the space through solar-powered heaters, charged and transported from the Barcelona port. The sun hangs above the viewer as a figure crosses the screen. This figure is a Libyan Migrant who entered Europe through this port. Her passing silhouette documents her daily walk to work, where she now cleans the port she arrived to.
The transportation of a sun documents the role of Europe in the loop of global displacement. The migrant Spanish sun mirrors the sun left behind by displaced people. This connection of skies physicalises national, and international ownership of people, places and things.
Brigid Mulligan bases her work on personal ephemera reflecting the universal experience of mourning and loss. “My current body of work has stemmed from the tragic loss of my brother in 2002, due to a motorbike accident. Experiencing loss so early in life (I was 16 years old at the time) has given me a different perspective on the value of the object. I grew curious about the residual effects people leave behind after death, in their clothing, belongings and the rich emotional charge these items often have. For years after my brother’s death I carried an old motorcycle indicator belonging to him. This inanimate object, in reality a piece of plastic, still contained a memory and in a sense a part of him.
I am interested in the shrine and the power of the object. Fatal road traffic accidents often obtain roadside shrines fabricated from family members who want a place to mourn their loved ones. The trauma of loss is comparable to the trauma of history. My mother had collected my brother’s belongings including the clothes he was wearing the night of his accident, kept safely hidden in a drawer for fear these objects or items would upset anyone. The decision to hide these possessions in a drawer is comparable to hiding historical monuments in a volt. We have traumatic histories, should we deny our past?”
Sian Costello’s Cast Your Eye presents a playful reversal of the artist-sitter dynamic, subverting the traditional aims of iconic portraiture. The work is less a representation of the figure as a portrait of distorted human perception, influenced by the ever present camera lens. “In optics there are real and there are virtual images. I am reminded of this as I peer into the glass of my camera obscura where a real image of Luna is being projected. As I tilt the nine-foot camera up and down, forward and back, the latent blur of pinks is occasionally punctuated by landmark features: there interposes an eye, a nipple, a toe, a bellybutton.
Exaggeratedly zoomed and vertically inverted, each video acts as a chapter to the cat-and-mouse narrative acted out between the surface of the skin and of the lens. Focus is fleeting, the stakes are that of millimetres. Chasing these emergences, I first draw, then paint. Painting becomes rhythmic, gestures are rehearsed and bit by bit, stroke by stroke, loop by loop, I work my way through the imagery until exhaustion.
Observational painting is defined by presence, by interaction, by time, by perception and by translation. The resulting artworks take in a broad range of mediums (video installation, photography, painting), in an attempt to both subvert traditional observational image-making and expose this magic of seeing. Here I move from three dimensions to two and back again, yet an appearance of depth remains; a virtual monument, an implicit body.”
About the Artists
Kevin Gaynor is an Irish artist that uses video, installation, and sculpture to collapse geography and make societal ideologies solid. With a focus on the conflict between current and forming power structures, he uses his practice to physicalise these encounters, and mirror the results that spill-out. Exercising a fundamental and tactile approach to globalisation, he highlights the ideological contortions of centralised powers.
Sian Costello is an artist and current Fine Art student at Limerick School of Art & Design, recently selected as an artist in residence at Winsor & Newton. The Camera Obscura is a major influence in Costello’s painting. Using cat-and-mouse style videos and macro details, she looks at the translation of life to film and the traditional artist-sitter dynamic.
Brigid Mulligan is a visual artist based in Galway working through various mediums including, photography, film and installation. Her work explores the human psyche and the emotional ramifications associated with specific experiences such as loss and fear.
Mulligan has exhibited in group shows in various museums and galleries nationwide, including Impressions, Galway International Arts Festival; Printed Matter, Galway Print Studio; and Put a Lid On It, Galway Arts Centre. She has been an active member of Knee-Jerk artist collective and recently completed a Masters in Creative Practice at CCAM, Galway.