Edwart & Arlette, 2014

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, 2014
Mammoth, Treignac Projet, France, 2014
Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin, 2015
Videonale.15, Bonn Kunstmuseum, Germany, 2015

“Edwart & Arlette” is an adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, published in 1892. With characters, dialogue and settings all reworked, this stylish whodunit hands over the detective work to the audience, since Sherlock himself has been removed from the narrative. The central characters are modelled on a photograph of a French art critic and museum curator which is where the film shifts into a different range of references. The shots are all designed from a collection of hand photographs which Phelan used to determine the framing and dialogue. Some 1,400 hand images were amassed over a year mostly via social media. The words and sentence fragments found on these images were developed into dialogue and remain in the order they were found, forcing the narrative to take some unexpected turns. The film has been made for a video installation but also functions in the festival setting with it sharp narrative and smooth styling. Just as Conan Doyle was inspired by Giovanni Moreilli in his construction of the Holmes character, so too is Phelan, in demanding that we look at the small detail for clues. The Moreilli technique was a mid nineteenth century identification technique for paintings – by following the unconscious traces left behind by the artist, in this instance the rendering of ears or hands, which tend to have a unique identity, a lot like fingerprints at a crime scene. But as grand narratives and notions of authorship have been shattered and moreover diffused, the shifting parameters of meaning are now mandated to embrace chance and intuition in connecting to a real world of possibilities where meaning is not so pre-determined.

Edwart & Arlette, 2014
HD video, 14:52 minutes duration

Funded by a Project Award from The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon