Kerlin Gallery, South Anne Street, D2
Aleana Egan is difficult to pin down. Her installations, conjured out of seemingly unassuming materials like plaster, cardboard and concrete, possess quietly beguiling qualities; a meditative charm born out of restraint. They are minimal, but not quite Minimalist (though Post-Minimalist, maybe): Egan rejects grand arcs of narrative in favour of a more pared down and subjective experience, but eschews the machine-made for the human. The talismanic draw of her materials is all in the way they imperfectly sag and hang.
Egan can seem like quite a difficult artist at first, and this isn’t wholly unintentional. Her works embrace fragmentation and incompletion, in doing so rejecting the possibility of any definite, absolute meaning, answer or doctrine. Instead she focuses on openness, on possibilities, memories, subjectivity and the multiplicity of experience. But she’s also interested in history and literature, at times drawing upon the oeuvres of Jean Rhys and Virginia Woolf. This, and her relationship to drawing (her linear shapes hanging against the walls of the white cubes like marks on paper) can provide a more accessible in-road to her art – and it’s well worth making the effort to engage with it.
From April 19th – June 1st
Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, D2
Imagine good ol’ Michael D was to be usurped in his presidency by Willie Delaney, the child who, aged just thirteen years old, died in state care in 1970. A student at the notorious St Joesphs in Letterfrack, essentially a labour camp under the guise of a school, Delaney’s body was exhumed in 2001 as part of an investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the state-run institution. Delaney is said to have withstood head injuries shortly before his death, reportedly being hit over the head by one of the Brothers with a broom. On the anniversary of the Ryan Report, Seamus Nolan proposes the temporary handing over of the Presidential office to Delaney – for a matter of minutes, hours, or days – in a notion that defies the rapid forgetting of Ireland’s history of institutionalised abuse.
Nolan’s previous projects have been at times ingenious: his ‘Hotel Ballymun’ project, a part of Breaking Ground Ballymun in 2007, was a roaring success, while in 2011, he attempted to hijack a Ryanair flight from London to Cork. Participants were invited to have a flight booked under their names, under the sole condition that they not turn up for it – the final result being a mysteriously empty yet fully-booked flight, populated solely by a handful of very confused Ryanair staffers. So we’re looking forward to seeing what he does in this triptych of exhibition, event and publication for 10th President.
April 12th – June 8th
Ben Rivers & Simone Kappeler
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Nassau Street, D2
With an obsolescing camera and 16mm film, Ben Rivers documents the drop-outs: those strange people on the fringes of society who have decided to play by a different set of rules. In Ah, Liberty! the subject is a family who have re-located to the Scottish Highlands, returning to the wilderness for a more autonomous, less authoritarian existence; Rivers focuses on the children in the family, and the effects this Liberty! has on them.
Rivers’s preoccupation with outmoded camera equipment is somewhat paralleled in Gallery 2, where Simone Kappeler is exhibiting a series of black and white photography taken on a ‘Diana’ camera. While cheap, the plastic camera suffuses her images with a soft focus and ethereal, dream-like quality. For this series, Darkened Days, Kappeler hit Dublin, photographing the down-and-out and doleful everyday, inner city and suburbia, documenting our recent history – most of the works dating from a visit made in October 2011. Her square images fade into darkness around the edges, and capture the blurred lines of movement, giving her subjects a spectral presence. Familiar places – Grafton Street, Trinity, Glendalough – are rendered strange under the ghostly blink of her plastic lens.