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Blind Private Party
The Black Mariah, Triskel, Tobin Street, Cork
9 December 2011-12 January 2012

 

 

 

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RED STAR DEATH STAR, 2007
balsa wood, card, paper tape, cocktail sticks, glue, coloured polyester thermal film, light fixture, cable
75 x 75 x 75 cm


THIS APPARENT LAMP SHADE IS ACTUALLY A GEODESIC VERSION OF THE DEATH STAR FROM THE STAR WARS MOVIE. IT’S A POOR APPROXIMATION OF A UTOPIAN DESIGN FOR POSSIBLE SOCIALIST ARCHITECTURE FUSED WITH A PLANET DESTROYING WEAPON, RENDERED DOMESTIC WITH A LOW WATTAGE LIGHT BULB PLACED INSIDE IT.

LARKIN MAN, 2011
adhesive vinyl
100 x 82 cm


THIS IS MAYBE AN IDEALIZED YET EMACIATED WORKER, TAKEN FROM THE MASTHEAD GRAPICS OF ‘THE IRISH WORKER’ NEWSPAPER EDITED BY JAMES LARKIN IN 1914, NOW BLINDFOLDED.

THING, 2010
cotton sheet
150 x 150 cm (installed)
sheet size 210 x 190 cm


THE THING FROM THE FANTASTIC FOUR PROVED IDEAL FOR RENDERING AS LATTICE-WORK. HE IS BOTH MAN AND ROCK, STRONG AND STUPID, BRAVE AND RECKLESS, ABSENT AND PRESENT, CLEAR AND CLEAN. ONE BAD PUN THAT WORKS ON REPEAT AS THERE ARE FIFTEEN MORE SIMILAR PIECES.

 

ROSEBUD TUNNEL FACE, 2011
cut velvet curtain fabric, printed cotton, adhesive
240 (high) x 197 (wide) cm


THIS HANGING FABRIC PIECE IS A CLASH OF DESIGNS, FUSED BY A COMPLEX PATTERN BASED ON THE FRONT FACE OF THE TUNNELING MACHINE THAT HISTORICALLY DUG THROUGH THE GOTTHARD TUNNEL IN SWITZERLAND EARLIER THIS YEAR. IT IS BOTH PATTERN, CRESTING ROSEBUD HOLE, AND INFRASTRUCTURAL MANDALA.

 

 

SWEET, 2011
video projection, duration 4:48 minutes


SWEET IS VIDEO MASH-UP, OVERLAYING AND MISMATCHING SINGERS FROM A ROWDY BAR IN CENTRAL SERBIA WITH THE LYRICS AND VISUALS FROM A SONG BY THE 1970'S POP DUO THE SPARKS. THE CRUDENESS OF THE SUBTITLES ECHOES A PERCEPTION OF COUNTRY TRAPPED IN THE PAST OF MERCENARY ISOLATION AND ROBUST SEXIST TRADITIONS.

PROTEST POLAR BEAR, 2010
archival paper, eva glue, toner, varnish, plastic cheese, motor, acrylic, wood (papier-mâché made from an article from the Irish Times about the street paper collectors called cartoneros in Buenos Aires, April 2010)
polar bear: 31 x 12 x 13 cm


THIS IS NOT A RAT, IT’S A VERY SMALL STANDING POLAR BEAR, PROTESTING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, AND NOT HITCH-HIKING TO DENMARK, DESPITE THE CHEESE. IT’S ABOUT TWO COUNTRIES THAT HAVE NO CONNECTION, ABOUT A WORLD THAT IS BENT ON THE RECYCLE, AND A PLACE WHERE POVERTY IS A CAREER CHOICE. THIS WORK IS CLUSTERED WITH THE FOLLOWING TWO IN FRONT OF SOME FABRIC PANELS. THEY DEAL WITH PEASANT FOOD AND PROPHETIC LEFTOVERS.

A SKULL PERHAPS, 2011
leftover papier-mâché, acrylic, acrylic rod
skull size: 17 x 23 x 30 cm
rod: 89 x 1 cm
CABBAGE SHADE, 2011
light fixture, rubber leaves, wire, acrylic
23 x 40 x 40 cm
 
 

WATCH THE RE-BIRTH OF A NATION (WITHOUT BRIAN), 2011
papier-mâché reading glasses, video projection, duration 3:24 minutes
reading glasses size: 5 x 15 x 15 cm


SYMBOLICALLY SIMPLE, THIS SHORT VIDEO IMAGE REPRESENTS THE STATE OF THE NATION, OR RATHER THE STATE WE HAVE FOUND OURSELVES IN, OR RATHER OUT. ITS SISTER WORK INCLUDES A MASK OF BRIAN COWEN WHICH IS THANKFULLY UNAVAILABLE AT PRESENT FOR EXHIBITION.

 
 


 

Obviously this is not a party, it’s an exhibition. The show is a selection of videos, fabric pieces, and sculptures gathered from different projects and places made over the last few years. While there should not be any connection between the pieces they actually cohere. As with many recent exhibitions of his work, Phelan has combined contrasting works to re-narrativise them, using old and new pieces to chart out another story, in this case a party of objects, blinded by ego.

There is always a mix several references with Phelan’s work, not just a semantic play, but proposing conflicts between given understandings and interpretations. This is an attempt to undermine the certainty of cultural assumptions through what has been termed as an “infrastructural aesthetic”. This concept allows for several parallel narratives to exist, linking the physical to the political to the societal to the individual. Visually the starting point is civil engineering, re-routed with unlikely content and materials. As with much of Phelan’s work there is an attention to detail and uncommon use of materials which constant shifts the viewer back onto the artwork.

The works in the show are therefore eclectic so as to reflect a complex reality of contemporary life [in Ireland] via the man behind our bankrupt economy, an overarching utopian failed fantasy, an emasculated super hero, a misogynist secret camera, the questionable futility of protest, engineering as non-functional decoration, and a fascination with assholes.