It takes me a long time to make work for exhibition inside or outside of the gallery. The conception stage can be years and gestation often as long. I spend a  long time understanding and listening to the work. As I work with others that relationship is developed over time. Such is the case with my new bleak piece with photographer Siobhán Dempsey and Russian immigrant Ирина Быстрова 
Plus ça Change pits two fundamental human conditions against each other: the resigned acknowledgment of the fundamental immutability of human nature and the enduring desire to effect change through praxis. Through the woman’s repetitive and recursive action of simultaneously removing and adding to two piles of building rubble, Plus ça Change metaphysically meditates on the paradox of change. 

  

A piece entitled ‘Plus ça Change’, as part of a project called Proclamation incites us to think about whether a Proclamation changes everything and/or keeps things the same. It promotes reflection both by context and integrity. When we see this work in the context of Ireland 2016 we also have to think about the relations between words and images as resources for reflection. Turning to the integrity of the piece, there is a poise and formal balance in the work. The video is from a restrained palette and this selection gives me the pleasure of thinking about his choice. The division into frames within the image is an arresting way of representing movement. And the piles that are made, removed, and re-made dramatise the tension between Proclamation and Plus ça change. There may even be something wonderful about a making that actually did lead to nothing rather than the ones that lead to so much destruction. Perhaps making should start with the Hippocratic oath – to do no harm.”

– Gerry Kearns, Professor of Human Geography, Maynooth University

  
Plus ça Change is showing as part of my curatorial project PROCLAMATION, in New York City at Irish Arts Center.   

Gallery hours by appointment

Monday 10am-4pm

Tuesday- Friday | 10 am – 6 pm

Please call 212-757-3318 or email gallery@irishartscenter.org

Ирина Быстрова is a recent Russian immigrant in Ireland. Ирина studied Psychology at Universitas Petropolitana, Saint Petersburg State University. Originally from St. Petersburg, Ирина has made Ireland her home contributing, along with other recent immigrants, to the social and economic fabric of Ireland.
Gerry Kearns is Professor of Human Geography at Maynooth University. His IRC funded Research Projects include ‘The Geographical Turn’ https://geographicalturn.wordpress.com and ‘The relevance of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic for Irish Civil Society in the 21st Century’ http://www.1916proclamation.net 

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Piece currently on show at the restored Belvedere House in Dublin.
Entitled ‘between the sheets’, 2009, it is an exploration of a traditional area of artistic study: Folded cloth.

Artists have paid particular attention to folded fabric since Grecian times in order to display artistic prowess. Later artists used the folds in cloth to allude to the concealed figure, body or object underneath.

With ‘in between the sheets’, I focused on what we hide; the cloth as veil. The idea that our relationship with ourselves can be understood through what is made evident: the marks, folds and traces we leave.

The work is a stack of ‘xerox drawings’, dimensions variable, placed upon a plinth. Visitors are invited to take from the top of the stack, thus reducing the stack over the duration of the exhibition. Only when the stack vanishes can more be stacked again.

For me the use of the ‘continuous depleting’ photocopy plays on our temporal psyche while questioning the authorship of the art object and the art market.

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Open Lecture Tomorrow. Nov 19th. Crawford College of Art Cork. 11:30 am
I return to my alma mater as a visiting lecturer. The Crawford alway struck me as a real Art College; you can smell the art being made.
For the open lecture at CCAD I will focus on the role of ‘artist as curator’. The last number of years I have been making work and leading projects which create intersections between peripheral geographies and state art collections. These projects have led to new lens based works by artists who choose to position themselves and their practice in remote geographies.
The commissioned works have interrogated existing artworks held at The National Gallery, the National Photographic Archive and the Dublin City Gallery | The Hugh Lane. In turn the works have been presented as public outdoor projections onto the buildings which house the collections.

I have been informed in advance that the Art Students at the Crawford are an engaging audience. Beir Bua!

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A public talk at Conversations: Creative Practice and the Environment.

Art, Science and Nature. Sunday June 15th 2014

#Dublin Biennial 2014 #Dublintellectual #Dublin Book Festival

HOLE + NAMA bear at Dublin Biennial

HOLE + NAMA bear at Dublin Biennial

“I hope today to provide an insight into the work ‘HOLE’ and ‘NAMA bear’ here at Dublin Biennial.

But first I’d like to share with you a father-daughter story…

My youngest daughter (6) has a penchant for cutting shapes in paper. Recently she came home from school and launched herself at a bright yellow page with a scissors. She cut out a shape and proceeded to use the shape, discarding the part the shape had come from.

Andrew Duggan at Conversations . Dublin Biennial 2014

Andrew Duggan at Conversations . Dublin Biennial 2014

I quizzed her on her action and asked her what was she going to do with the hole … she glanced at the paper I was holding for a moment then returned her attention to what she was doing and said, casually, “that is not the hole … this is”, pointing to the shape she had cut out.

And therein lies a fundamental art/science question which Gerard Donovan in Schopenhauer’s Telescope writes: “Is the hole the space you’ve dug or is it made of the [thing] you’ve dug out”

Andrew Duggan working on Hole for Dublin Biennial CMYK

Since 2006 I have seen the act of digging as a non pictorial method of positioning myself within a particular landscape. On returning from an extensive time in New York City I began a series of works on the relationship between self, landscape and response. While I didn’t have the need to define my surroundings through traditional pictorial methods I was confronted with the physical presence of the West Kerry landscape. I wanted to locate or more appropriately ‘dislocate’ myself within the landscape…

It was then that I thought what if I could erase it in some way, and it was then that decided that I would dig; dig as a way addressing the specificity of place.

Hole, Andrew Duggan, Visual Artists Ireland

Hole, Andrew Duggan, Visual Artists Ireland

Around this time I also revisited previous artists work and while serving on a selection panel for Apex in NYC I came across other artists working similarly.
Artist Brian King, the former head of sculpture at NCAD and tutor of mine, took students out of the college and created a series of works on the nature of holes. He was connecting the action of digging and his students with the Land Art movement in a very Irish way. The image you see here is from the inspiring publication ‘ A sense of Ireland’ to accompany the pioneering presentation of Irish work of the same name in England.

Brian King, a sense of Ireland publication

Brian King, a sense of Ireland publication

Claes Oldenburg, digging in Central Park 1967

Claes Oldenburg, digging in Central Park 1967

Another artist Claes Oldenburg, also linked to the Land Art movement in the US, famously created a hole in Central park in 1967 and is quoted for saying:
“By not burying a thing, the dirt enters into the concept, and little enough separates the dirt inside the excavation from that outside.”
(Initially he wanted to stop the traffic on 5th av in Manhattan.)

Two years earlier in 1965 Japanese ‘Group ‘I” dug a hole on the banks of the Nagara River in Gifu, Japan. After eight consecutive days of collective digging, in accordance with city regulations, the hole was filled back up.

Group i, hole 1965

Group i, hole 1965

Sean Keating, An Allegory

Sean Keating, An Allegory

Perhaps not the most conceptual of artists but none the less an influencing factor for HOLE is the depiction of men digging a hole/grave in Sean Keating’s An Allegory, 1922. The two figures are at odds with one another and the ruin in the background provides the context to enable Keating discuss the then recent civil conflict. The grave is there to bury a lost ideology.

For Dublin Biennial I wanted to develop work on the nature of absence and transference. I wanted push the physical issues further to create distance and distinction between ‘the hole’ as the space that has been dug out and ‘the hole’ as the object that had been dug. I wanted to create a ‘hole’ that could exist in two separate locations; to create the situation where viewers of the work could regard ‘the hole’ that had been dug out while simultaneously consider ‘the hole’ that existed elsewhere.

The geographical position of the Biennial in Dublin’s Docklands struck me as the perfect location to explore tangible and intangible voids both architecturally and socially.

I proposed to Dublin Biennial to dig a hole at the former Anglo Irish Building on Dublin’s North Quay and to transport the hole to the warehouse where Dublin Biennial had set up.
Brutalist in form the unfinished building stands as a Folly; a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose. (I have long been drawn to working with and in spaces which have a particular resonance and poetry.)

Anglo Irish HQ in Dublin Docklands

Anglo Irish HQ in Dublin Docklands

Frank McDonald in the Irish Times in January this year writes ‘This skeletal structure had become a much-featured symbol of Ireland’s descent into bankruptcy and there were some who said it should be preserved as a monument to the madness.’

While in The Independent, Nick Webb and Jerome Reilly comment that ‘The concrete hulk of the building has become a potent symbol of Ireland’s property and financial collapse over the past three years, with pictures of it appearing in international TV programmes and magazine articles.’

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With the help of several workers and after much bureaucracy, I collected, excavated abandoned building materials from the former Anglo Irish HQ and transported the materials to the gallery space at Dublin Biennial.

While installing the work one particular object seemed to want to stand apart, as it did on the building site. Ros Drinkwater writing in The Sunday Business Post puts it better by saying it was ‘excavated and then stood alone away from the other discarded construction materials. At first this object appears as a solid granite piece. On closer inspection it turns out to be styrofoam, an insulating material.

I was tempted to title it ‘disagreeable’ as it reminded me of Man Ray photograph ‘Model with Alberto Giacometti’s Objet Désagréable. 1930-31’ where the object could be positioned in many ways.

Man Ray Model with Alberto Giacometti's Objet Désagréable. 1930-31

Man Ray Model with Alberto Giacometti’s Objet Désagréable. 1930-31

Instead I titled it ‘NAMA bear’.

NAMA bear

NAMA bear

Both ‘the hole’ as a space and ‘the hole’ as an object taps into an Irish psyche. The materials which have been dug out have a visual resonance and a personal familiarity to many Irish people. While installing the work I had many people commenting on, recognising and naming the individual items that make up HOLE. I found that many were emotionally connected to the ‘inverse hole’ regarding the work as a monument to the “consequences of creating social holes.”

Six One News

Six One News

The ‘hole’ you see here at the Dublin Biennial gallery has put distance between ‘the space’ that has been dug’ and ‘the thing’ that has been dug out. The hole exists both here and elsewhere. In this case the ‘elsewhere’ has a sensitive social and economic resonance.

Thank you. ”

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“Is the hole the space you’ve dug or is it made of the [thing] you’ve dug out”
From Schopenhauer’s Telescope, by Gerard Donovan

” there’s a hole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall”- from ‘Grounds for Divorce’ by Elbow

I have for many years been interested in intangible and tangible voids; ‘holes’ hold a particilar fascination for me. But before I get engrossed in the ephemeral nature of absence I will outline a more tangible hole.

I’m creating an installation entitled ‘HOLE’ for Dublin Biennial 2014, in a warehouse previously known as Stack A in Dublin’s Docklands.

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For all apparent appearances the installation is not a hole; it is the opposite. ‘HOLE’ is a mound of materials dug out of an idle construction site on the banks of Dublin’s river Liffey. The artwork acts as an ‘inverse hole’ pointing us to the existence of a hole elsewhere.

The ‘elsewhere’, from which the hole has been made, holds a particular poignant place in Ireland’s recent economic psyche. The materials that make up HOLE come from the uncompleted Anglo Irish building in Dublin’s Docklands.

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The unfinished skeletal concrete structure is a monument to the financial folly of unmonitored banking. Now managed by NAMA the building and the surrounding site stands like a Brutalist icon on the Dublin skyline. It is here I proposed to Dublin Biennial that I should dig.

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The action of digging, extracting and removing, has the simultaneous effect of locating and dislocating oneself within a landscape. I am at once erasing and transferring urban space.

Beyond the economic hoarding, past the architectural legacy, digging for me is ostensibly about defining my relationship with place through non pictorial methods.

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Certain artworks have a particular magnetism for me, as do certain built spaces or particular individuals.

I have long been drawn to two paintings by Irish artist Jack B Yeats. ‘The Ball Alley’, and ‘Old Walls’, are paintings housed at the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and The National Gallery of Ireland, respectively.

Beyond the seduction of Yeats highly developed textural style, the relationship between the figures and the space they occupy hold my interest.

In both ‘The Ball Alley’ and ‘Old Walls’ the figures are framed by tall constructed walls. The individuals are familiar with their surroundings, they have been here before. Their connection to the space is physical and emotional.

The paintings point beyond the Gallery’s walls to another cube like space; the cast concrete outdoor handball alley. A vernacular architecture that was a social meeting place in rural and urban landscapes

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In ‘The Ball Alley’ at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, four men are positioned in and at the edge of an outdoor handball alley. The composition invites the viewer in, but not fully. As viewers we hesitate on the margin. Arrested by the feeling something has just happened or is about to happen. This is theatre but while we may not think we are players we stand stage left observing the proceedings.

What I find most striking about the painting is the deafening silence. The play is paused. The players have been disturbed by something beyond the walls. The hollow echo of ball against concrete still seems to resonate. The silence is the pause between the recent past and the imminent future.

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In ‘Old Walls’ at The National Gallery of Ireland, the figure stands alone accompanied only by his shadow. Solitary within the walls, this individual is older, he remembers this space, or thinks he does. I can’t help but compare it to Beckett’s ‘Film’ with Buster Keaton. With Yeats the old walls are a testament to a past. Is isn’t unreasonable to think that I imagine I can make out some writing on the walls.

The figures in each painting could well be the same person, as too could the walled space be the same. Time being the difference here.

These paintings provide the groundwork for others to follow, (myself included). Comparisons can be made with the Irish born painter Francis Bacon in both style and framing. I share their obsession with portraying the physical and emotional conditions of ‘the player’ within a ‘constructed space’.

These paintings, the now abandoned alleys and their geographical location together with a physical action, inspire me to make work which places an individual within a particular context to perform a set of movements.

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 'Maid combing a Womans Hair'(1883) by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824 - 1898)

‘Maid combing a Womans Hair'(1883) by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824 – 1898)

In late 2013 I became increasingly interested in a painting at Dublin City Gallery | The Hugh Lane, which I plan to create a new film piece for gallery and outdoor projection. Entitled ‘A Maid combing a Woman’s Hair’ (circa 1883) by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824 – 1898), it  has a counterpart entitled ‘La Toilette'(1883) at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

 'La Toilette'(1883) by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824 - 1898)

‘La Toilette'(1883) by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824 – 1898)

Since 2012 I’ve been making work which directly relates to works of art held in national Irish institutions. Working with dancers and sports person I have, to date, created two film pieces, ‘Flux, after William Orpen’s The Holy Well 1916’ and ‘Pace, after Jack B Yeats’s The Ball Alley & Old Walls’, which were then presented as public outdoor projections onto the institutions the original paintings are held.

The subject matter of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’s ‘A Maid combing a Woman’s Hair’ and ‘La Toilette’ is the boudoir. While being of interest to many French artists of the time is now an unfashionable, outdated and archaic subject matter. The direct male gaze versus the averted female gaze is uncomfortable territory and not a 21th Century preoccupation, at least not in cutting edge contemporary arts practice.

While I am not interested in the fashionability or unfashionability of art. What interests me is the movement in both paintings and the relationship between the two women through their physical stances/body language. There is what I can only describe as a ‘violent indifference’ between the two figures. A back and forth play of dominance which I wish to explore. The boudoir is a private space put on public display in a museum context. The relationships between public, private and body is something I wish to address in the work. I wish to create a tension in the work, between the two figures and between the work and the viewer. That there are two sister paintings in two different institutions creates a dynamic geographical axis in which to explore that tension. The power struggle is also echoed in Hugh Lanes purchase of ‘A Maid combing a Woman’s Hair’ and the subsequent contentious legacy of his ‘Bequest’ between the National Gallery London and the Dublin City Gallery.

So a woman’s hair being combed, pulled by another in a particular space, while a simple action, has multiple readings. I am also aware that as a male artist I must consider that fact in the development of the work.

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This scuffed photograph measures 90mm x 110mm. I found it lying image side up on a wet winter’s morning outside the studio.

Over the years I have picked up and kept found photographs and other lost items. Unlike Christian Boltanski, I haven’t sought them out or wished to find them but they have found me. They remain for the most part in my studio; a collection of isolated photographs and objects from unknown persons.

This photograph was wet when I took it in. It appears to have been cut from a larger photograph or had its borders trimmed. The stock is old, pre digital. The corners are dog eared, lifting, revealing the layers of the photograph. The back of the photograph has no processing data nor does it have any hand written details regarding the image itself.

The photograph is of a national Irish road with road markings, hard shoulder and now obsolete barrier. The speed sign is pre metric system. Maximum speed appears in miles. There is a castle in the distance on top of a hill.

One can examine the content of the photograph and make accurate comments based on the photograph but not on the person who took it. The author of the picture is unknown. Any comment, while based on an understanding of basic photography and basic human behaviour and social habits, can only be conjecture.

But conjecture is the interesting part, the realm of imagination. What is the story surrounding the photograph. There are multiple possible narratives. Who took the shot? Were they on there own? Where were they from? Where were they going to? What was going on in their lives before, during and after the photograph was taken? How did the photograph get to be lost outside my studio…

The focus of the photo seems to be the castle. The shot has been taken from the side of the road where perhaps the car, in which they are travelling in, has pulled in. It could have been taken by the driver as they made the decision to pull over or maybe the driver was asked to pull over. Perhaps the photographer remained in the car judging by the height the shot was taken at.

The chilling thing for me is that I recognise where the photo was taken. As a child I visited the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary with my parents and my younger sister. This photo of that castle makes me recall our visit there; a time I had all but forgotten about. I can smell the grass and the shirt my father wore as we sat for a photo my mother was about to take. I remember how colourful she looked in her flowery blouse and slacks. It was hot and I wore pale coloured flared trousers. It was 1975, about the same time this photograph was taken judging by the road markings. I was 7

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In the bullet pock marked town on Sedan, France, a travel agency catches my attention. The main destination on offer is North Africa. Away from this historic French town near the Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium borders, homogenous holidays are being promised.

The brochure’s photographs offer a monotonous land of milk and honey. (The images recall the wallpaper scenes in Eastern European cities as mentioned in an earlier entry.

The images used in these cheaply produced brochures offer no hint of difference between Tunisia and Egypt. No cultural diversity between the thin glossy pages. Each caption containing the words: ‘all inclusive’, ‘chambres supérieures’, ‘buffet á tous repas’.

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Venturing beyond the hotel is not advised. And why would you? Why would the visitor be interested in what lies beyond the hotel border. The revolution beyond the gates is not being televised (on the ‘cable tv in every room’). The insurgent shouts are a faint murmur to those lying on the hundreds of uniquely crafted sun beds surrounding the pool.

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The borders between peoples are thin, sometimes transparent but none the less present.

xerox drawing crumpled

xerox drawing crumpled