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Wall1This is a text I wrote for the Pact Of Disengagement event that took place at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios back in May, which Teresa Gillespie and Ben Woodard kindly invited me to be part of. The idea was to explore the question of the nature of the relationship between art and philosophy, or as Teresa and Ben put it, their ‘mutual abuses’. I was one of a panel of speakers (Paul Ennis, Francis Halsall, Matthew Slack, Edia Connole, Jonathan Mayhew, Micheal O’Rourke, Rob Murphy, Lily Cahill and Tina Kinsella), each of whom had five minutes to articulate some thoughts on the subject. This text was written to be ‘read out’, rather than ‘read’, so you could always read it aloud to get the full effect

I am going to talk about this idea of abuse – the notion that more often than not art and philosophy are engaged in a form of mutual abuse that is not particularly constructive. Abuse of philosophy by artists. Abuse of art by philosophers. I’m going to suggest though that maybe abuse isn’t always bad and that we might take, not an uncritical view of it, but at least a view that is open to the possibilities that such abuse might present. I’m going to largely confine myself to artists abusing philosophy rather than the other way around. Continue Reading »

Gracelands6
The following was written for Emma Mahony’s excellent module, Art Institutions And Their Publics, which was delivered as part of the NCAD MA Art In The Contemporary World course in 2013. It deals with the notion of the deviant art institution, a concept introduced by Emma on the course, and considers whether Michel Foucault’s idea of the heterotopia might or might not function as an appropriate conceptual model for such an institution.

Michel Foucault’s 1967 lecture Of Other Spaces outlines his concept of the heterotopia1, a sort of countersite which somehow contests or inverts the sets of relations by which spaces and sites in the rest of our world are constituted. Foucault claims that such sites are critical to functioning of the human imaginary and implies that without them a collapse into authoritarianism is inevitable. As he puts it at the end of the piece, after providing the example of the ship as a heterotopia par excellence, “without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates”. Continue Reading »

Swans at SupersonicThere is a song on the new Swans album, To Be Kind, that is directly inspired by Lars Von Trier’s brilliant 2011 film Melancholia. The film tells the story of two sisters, Claire and Justine, and their differing reactions to the impending arrival of a rogue planet, which, as becomes apparent as the film progresses, is in danger of crashing into and destroying the Earth. The first half of the film revolves around a wedding party at a country house for Justine, who is to be married the next day, an event that Claire is largely responsible for organising. Claire is at home within this world of social and familial ritual, however Justine is not, and her behaviour becomes more and more erratic and unhinged as the evening progresses. The night ends in disarray, with Justine’s husband-to-be and the rest of the guests leaving in disgust, and the wedding cancelled. The second part of the film concentrates on Claire and Justine (along with Claire’s husband and son) as they await the arrival of the planet Melancholia. It initially seems that it won’t collide with Earth at all, however it eventually becomes undeniable that it will, and that there is no escape (Claire’s husband commits suicide when he finally accepts this). Claire goes through stages of denial, fear, panic and despair, whereas Justine calmly accepts the situation, and smilingly tries to comfort Claire right up until the final moments. Continue Reading »

Guerre Civile

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War machines are polymorphous; diffuse organizations characterized by their capacity for metamorphosis. They are made up of small groups that split up or merge with one another, depending on contingency and circumstances.
Eyal Weizman 1.

Axiom 1: The war machine is exterior to the State apparatus.
*Proposition 1: This exteriority is first attested to in mythology, epic, drama and games.
Deleuze and Guattari 2.

In June of the year 2000, a few weeks after the Israeli army withdrew from southern Lebanon, I flew into Beirut airport with my friend Anthony. We had been invited by a mutual acquaintance, K., an Irish army officer who was stationed there as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force. We arrived in Beirut at night and K. immediately drove us to a club in Achrafieh, a formerly well-to-do Christian part of the city. The nightclub was in a deconsecrated church but inside it differed little from similarly slick establishments in less troubled European capitals. The crowd was young, stylish and well-heeled, dancing enthusiastically to a mixture of European techno and Arab beats, and knocking back drinks from the fully-stocked bar. When we finally stumbled outside at 4AM I remarked that so far Beirut didn’t seem to be the desolate war-torn ruin we had been expecting. K. smirked and pointed across the street towards a huge dark hulking building. As our eyes gradually adjusted to the lack of light we saw that it was a bombed out shell. Entire floors had collapsed and what remained of the walls were splattered with bullet holes. As we drove back to our hotel in West Beirut we saw that the whole city seemed to randomly pockmarked with these wrecks, with no discernible pattern or sense to their distribution. Continue Reading »

After Former West

2013-03-23 13.50.48The following is a text that was written after attending the Former West congress in Berlin in 2013. Former West was an event that sought to examine the status of art production, particularly politically engaged art production, in the context of a post-1989 Europe. In the piece below I discuss one particular strand of the congress. This was led by Irit Rogoff and was based around the theme of infrastructure. I mainly discuss Rogoff’s contribution but also briefly allude to some of the others as well.

Rogoff started by noting how we in the so-called West tend to pride ourselves on a functioning and superior infrastructure. This takes many forms: a logistical infrastructure that includes transportation elements such as roads and railways; a technological infrastructure consisting of various forms of communication networks; a financial infrastructure dedicated to the movement and circulation of capital; as well other infrastructures dedicated to the facilitation of activities in specific fields of endeavour such as education, law, and all the myriad forms of cultural practice, including of course, art. While infrastructure takes many forms, its defining characteristic is a focus on delivery – delivery of material things such as goods, services, cash, people – or delivery of immaterial things such as credit, data, information, thoughts, ideas. One way or another it moves things from place to place. It facilitates connections between things. It allows things to enter into various forms of relations with each other. Rogoff’s proposition is that infrastructure is a defining characteristic of the contemporary condition, and that therefore we need to think it critically. We need to be alert to both the problems and the possibilities that it presents, in order to figure out how we should operate effectively within it. Continue Reading »

The Long Still

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This is a photography of an installation by the artist Niamh O’Doherty which was exhibited at Broadstone Studios during January of this year. It consists of seven Super 8 projectors and seven hanging screens. Each projector is projecting speeded-up footage shot on a beach in Donegal over the course of one day in October last year. As Niamh puts it, “the film documents the shifts and changes in light and tide through the course of a day”. It was a really well executed piece of work and I wanted to photograph it because there seemed to be a lot of things going on here that resonated with what I have been doing with this project – analogue processes, representations of time. Even the title, The Long Still, seemed like it could just as easily be referring to an extended time exposure photograph. Continue Reading »

The Body Without Organs

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I’ve been spending some time recently grappling with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s philosophical magnum opus, A Thousand Plateaus. This is partly because of a seminar group at NCAD I am involved with, and partly because, well, there’s not really that much of interest on the telly these dark winter evenings. A Thousand Plateaus (let’s call it ATP for short) was published in 1980 and is the second part of a two-volume project by Deleuze and Guattari (let’s call them D&G for short) which they titled Capitalism and Schizophrenia (the first part, Anti-Oedipus, came out in 1972). Continue Reading »

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