Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Galway Arts Centre and Christ the Redeemer

A pretty busy couple of weeks for the Galway Art scene. We wrapped up the Fergus Byrne's show titled Dog Skipping Pegasus. I like Byrne's work that he had for this show for both the end product and the method of creation. The final product is visually strong and heavy. All the skipping pieces being weighted from the top by either a black or red/ochre rich pigment. The bottom half of each piece the viewer finds a testament to the action of creating the work. (the artist skips on these pieces. The skipping rope picks up the pigment from one end and transfers it to the end where he is jumping) The show also included a video piece and some smaller works as well a performance on the opening night (which I regretfully missed). I was undecided on the video though. On the one hand I found it a good addition to the show as it gave some insight to the process as well as having an almost mesmerising effect with its rhythmic visual and audio components. The only issue I found with the video was a relational disconnect in the textual aspect of the video.

Skip IV, mixed media on paper,
176 x 98 cm, 2009.

Image taken from the Visual Arts Centre website

On Thursday the 28th Galway had a number of openings. I made it to two of them, the first being the Galway Arts Centre's exhibit The World Shrinks For Those Who Own It. Featuring
Frankfurt based artist Oliver Heinzenberger and Galway's own Jim Ricks.
I will insert the Art Centre's own write up here for the show

The exhibition explores the differences in peoples’ movement; for some travel
is a luxury and recreational, where for others it marks a dangerous and often
illegal crossing of borders in search of a better life elsewhere.

The space is broken up into three rooms so I'll walk you through each. As you enter the first space you come upon a sculptural floor piece. A row of cactus that has done a great job of collecting shopping bags. Meant to be a loose recreation of a common cacti yard-wall found through out the middle east as well as many equatorial locals. I really liked this work on so many levels. It had a wonderful duality to it. On the one hand I thought it was a playful piece, vibrant and interactive with colourful loose bags blowing around the floor with the help of a centrally located fan on the floor. On the other, it acted as a signifier for mass consumerism, western deculturization, and disposable utility. An excellent piece.
On the far wall we have a PLO-like throw-up of a Kalashnikov rifle and red star. Images like these always have a commanding visual impact, and this is no exception.

Picture of the artist Jim Ricks.

The cactus wall. (not the actual title, just a descriptive) Jim Ricks

In the mid room is Oliver Heinzenberger with pieces on either side of the room. The one that stood out for me was a small shelf with 4 photos on it. The photos showed people/tourists standing atop an outdoor staircase with arms out-stretched. The staircase is situated well above the coast line which can be made out in the distance. Anybody familiar with Rio De Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue picks up on whats going on here. The strength of these little photos is their ability to convey regional information and narrative through allegory. The spectacle that is tourism and ritual pilgrimage found at this location, the recording of the same event over and over again. That's a lot to convey and the photos relay it in a very clever way.
We move onto the back room. The room has been blackened (painted) and has a number of pieces in it. The strongest piece for me being the post card stand with only one card to select. A replica of a Berlin Wall postcard, soldiers in a jeep driving by a rather indistinct section of wall (by the Potsdamer Platz which is near the Brandenburg gate) and outpost tower in the background.

Post Card Stand: Jim Ricks

Oliver Heinzenberger

Over all I thought the exhibit was really engaging and well worth dropping by the centre to check out. Spend some time with the show, you need to let it convey its stories both weighty and whimsical.

Up next: A Sportsbar and the Search for Utopia