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Ciao, no more
Dunamasie Arts Centre, Portlaoise
13 October - 21 November, 2009


 

Ciao No More
Ciao, no more
Ćao, nema više

There is a car factory where production has all but ground to a halt: the air inside is full of an oily mist as robots replace employees, and the scent of failure is evident in the haze. These are the scenes of a failed economic and political ideology, where the flaws in grand plans have sown the seeds of their demise. Alan Phelan's photographs are not of a car plant in post-boom America, or even one of the defunct factories across the Irish Sea in the UK but, instead, were taken in the Zastava car factory in Serbia, which the artist first visited while on a residency, and returned to over a period of four years. This is the factory that made the notoriously unreliable Yugo, a car that Slobodan Milošević marketed in the USA in the hopes it would encourage Serbs to outwit capitalism. The Yugo still has powerful meanings to the people of Serbia, and Phelan's haunting installation hints at the workings of big dreams, and what is left in their wake.

Phelan presents an installation of photographs printed on billboard blue-backed paper which are accompanied by a marble sculpture. This work “The Other Hand of Victory”, 2009 is a scaled up artist’s modelling hand, purchased in Lidl, now made in white marble by craft workers at a stone garden ornament plant in China. This piece serves to expand and connect to the Serbian photographs, pointing to the realities of global capitalism, nostalgic for heavy industry yet outsourced to open up a discussion of trans-cultural potential not futility.

Alan Phelan is a visual artist whose practice includes gallery based exhibitions, participatory projects, curating, and critical writing. He works in a diverse range of media, most recently towards sculpture but also including photography, video, and printmaking.

Phelan has discussed how he is uneasy with finalising an artwork, leading him to work in collaborative and participatory situations, so that the outcome is provisional. This leaves space for the work to be completed by the viewer, as they see it and add their own thoughts, experiences and contexts to the mix. In this way, the various combinations of elements that the artist puts together provoke an experience that is not only visual. Because the objects are incomplete (without the viewer), they are full of potential, and this is added to by the strong narrative element in the work, which brings ideas and materials together, and offers an entry point to understanding and bringing our own stories in to play.

Curated by Gemma Tipton