DRY GRASS AND SHADOWS
Curated by Ben Crothers
Golden Thread Gallery Project Space, Belfast
03 - 25 February 2011
Golden Thread Gallery Project Space, Belfast
03 - 25 February 2011
DRY GRASS AND SHADOWS is an exhibition of contemporary works by an engaging group of artists working in a range of media, from fine art and photography to installation, video and performance. The works featured in the exhibition – by artists from the UK, Ireland and the USA – are connected through their engagement or involvement with the natural world. Whilst the works are conceptually, thematically and aesthetically varied, all demonstrate a consideration of, intervention with or reimagining of natural landscapes.
The exhibition includes works by Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Laura Mac Gowan, Ryan Moffett, Zoë Murdoch, Charles Walsh and Summer Zickefoose.
ARTISTS & WORKS
PIL AND GALIA KOLLECTIV are London-based artists, writers and curators working in collaboration. They studied History and English at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for their BA, and in 2001 graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London. They are currently pursuing a joint PhD in Art, also at Goldsmiths. Working mainly in film and performance, their work addresses the legacy of modernism, exploring avant-garde discourses of the twentieth century and the way in which they operate in the context of a changing landscape of creative work and instrumentalised leisure. Pil and Galia are also interested in the relationship between art and politics, and the role irony plays in its current articulation. They often use choreographed movement and ritual as both an aesthetic and a thematic dimension of their work.
Pil and Galia’s work has been extensively exhibited internationally, and they have presented live work at the 2nd Herzliya Biennial, the 5th Berlin Biennale, as well as Kunsthall Oslo, Arnolfini, Bristol, and Late at Tate Britain. In 2007 they were recipients of the London Artists’ Film and Video Award.
Asparagus: A Horticultural Ballet is a live performance piece inspired by rumour and myth. In the late 1970s, while still a student Waw Pierogi, later of obscure New Jersey minimal synth band Xex, composed the interdisciplinary Asparagus: A Horticultural Ballet. No documentation of the piece exists, but Pil and Galia Kollectiv became fascinated by the work, alongside another lost work, Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet. Pil and Galia’s desire is not to recreate either, but rather they are intrigued by the possibilities of making a new work through the collision of ideas left behind by former art movements and other cultural phenomena. Pil and Galia have exhibited both the full film of Asparagus: A Horticultural Ballet, a mockumentary of the rehearsal process featuring an actor pretending to direct the unruly vegetables, and the shorter version, exhibited in this exhibition, which features the asparagus dancers practicing in Battersea Park, London.
LAURA MAC GOWAN (b. Sligo, 1986) graduated from the University of Ulster in 2009 with a BA (Hons) in Fine and Applied Art. Primarily focusing on drawing, Mac Gowan’s work refers to the notion of landscape as a vision of tranquility. Both the stillness and calmness of nature is depicted through Mac Gowan’s intricate line work, evoking a sense of nature’s delicacy and fragility. As the combination of memories, findings and experiences is filtered through Mac Gowan’s practice, the work demonstrates an ongoing investigation into the representation of nature in contemporary art. Mac Gowan is currently in the process of completing her MA in Art in the Contemporary World at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.
RYAN MOFFETT (b. Belfast, 1987) completed his degree in Fine and Applied Art at the University of Ulster in 2009, and obtained a first class honours. Since completing his degree, Moffett has shown his work in numerous exhibitions both locally and internationally, most notably Inter alia at PS2, Arrivals at Ormeau Baths Gallery and Futures at the Elephant Gallery, Los Angeles. He has also recently completed a residency at Digital Arts Studios, Belfast.
The Tree House (2010) is a reconstruction of the tree house which Moffett’s grandfather built for him when he was a child. It houses four single-channel videos which are composed using both original and found footage. Each video, viewed through one of four small eyepieces, mirrors its equivalent side in an uncanny virtual environment.
Moffett’s main interest lies in using the physical body or surface of the installation to further explore the immersive quality of video, and to provide a space against which the viewer or participant can further investigate narrative. The work is heavily influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky’s film, The Mirror, and explores themes including cinematic perspective, memory, and the relationships between virtual and real space.
ZOE MURDOCH studied Fine Art at the University of Ulster, before joining Queen Street Studios in 2001. Since then, she has participated in various group shows and has seen her work included in exhibitions in Belfast, Galway, London, China, New York and Pennsylvania.
Murdoch’s art is a visual expression of the language of her life, created from her own realities and imaginings; it fundamentally illustrates the inner workings of her mind and, for the most part, is inspired by memories. The works depict the fluctuations of Murdoch’s mood and indicate her feelings at the time each individual piece was created. Although her methods of working differ – using painting, photography, drawing, sculpture and text – all of the work is connected; everything is linked in one way or another.
Through her practice, Murdoch creates a personal interpretation of her own story by making memories into art. She believes that with art comes a sense of permanency, and it can portray an existence that may otherwise remain concealed.
Dry Grass and Shadows presents small scale photographic works from the series Requiem for Fiction, in which Murdoch is simultaneously both photographer and model, subject and object. Exploring issues of gender and the self, the works examine the relationship between the body and its improvised surroundings. Murdoch does not necessarily see the work as autobiographical, however. Instead, she creates an atmosphere which invites the viewer to develop an intimacy with the image, and in response create their own interpretation of Murdoch’s story.
CHARLES WALSH is an abstract painter who lives and works in Northern Ireland. His paintings generate visual sensations through colour and form, systemic structure and repetition. The works are to be seen as contemplative, aesthetic, sometimes austere in their simplicity.
An essential facet of Walsh’s practice is in the facture of his own paint from pigments and oils. Much of his earlier work dealt with the subtle variations of monochromatic colour, primarily black. Walsh’s black paintings also draw inspiration from the artist’s childhood, when he would go night fishing with his father. Whilst at sea, Walsh became fascinated by the range of colours he could see even in complete darkness.
More recent works focus on polychromatic saturation, but the predominant, recurring theme in all the work is ‘the square’, with the strategic use of the intrinsic geometric element generating meditative reflection.
SUMMER ZICKEFOOSE is an interdisciplinary artist who currently resides in Ohio, USA. She grew up amidst the square miles and cornfields of Iowa. The smells of fresh cut hay, horse manure and hog pens lodged permanently in her subconscious have, in one way or another, led to artwork that is deeply influenced by Midwestern and rural American culture and landscape.
Zickefoose received degrees in both Art History and Studio Art from the University of Iowa in 2000, and in 2004 received her MFA in Multimedia Art and Ceramics from the University of Florida. Her objects, performances, videos and installations have been exhibited throughout the United States, most notably at the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Georgia and the New Harmony Gallery for Contemporary Art, Indiana.
Dry Grass and Shadows features two of Zickefoose’s performance works, Franklin County Lines (2008), in which a platter of corn stalks is carried, zig-zagging across the span of a prairie, and Posey County Breakfast (2007), in which Zickefoose eats a bowl of corn flakes in an Indiana cornfield in mid-October. The dress which Zickefoose wore during both performances is also exhibited. This is the first time the works have been exhibited outside of the United States.