Points of Departure, Christine Mackey

Points of Departure
Christine Mackey

gallery one, nov 11 – dec 9

Christine Mackey gained a BA Sculpture in NCAD Dublin 1992, and MA Visual Performance, Dartington College, 2002. She was nominated as one of four finalists for the AIB Award 2004.

The work in this exhibition stems from Christine Mackey’s response to her travels in Central America and particularly her response to the terrain and the people she encountered there. She was artist in residence in Teor e/Tica, San José, the capital and largest city in Costa Rica, located in the center of the country, high on a mountain plateau.

The central premise of this work deals in terms of an anthropological (the study of humankind) practice but one it terms of collecting, through which a local knowledge of place is gained through an ongoing dialogical exchange both physically and virtually. Grant Kester, assistant professor of contemporary art history and theory at Arizona State University, has given a useful description of a dialogical relationship in artwork as follows: “a dialogical relationship that breaks down the conventional distinction between artist, art work and audience - a relationship that allows the viewer to "speak back" to the artist in certain ways, and in which this reply becomes in effect a part of the "work" itself” (Dialogical Aesthetics: A Critical Framework For Littoral Art, Grant Kester, Variant issue 9)

Christine Mackey’s method of working, which she terms ‘Process in Motion’ relates to the actual gaining of knowledge about a civilization or community through collation and discoveries. In essence the exhibition is an archival installation of her travels and experiences in Central America and research into its artists and their response to their environment. Thus she decided to build an archive of Central American artists that amounted to small art works, documentation of artists work on CD and DVD, catalogues and books related to Central American artists and current arts practice. She is appropriating methods used by archivists in this project. She doesn’t intend this project to be an exhaustive archive of Central American art and artists. Rather she is using archival methods to visually articulate her personal (and that of the artists she encountered) response to the local environment and populace. She is also entwining her own personal circumstance into the work, in this case the tragic death of her mother, Brigid, in a car accident whilst the artist was in Panama. She is placing subjective experience into mapping and the archiving resulting from that mapping.

The nature and use of archives are being changed, particularly through artists using methods and terminology traditionally used by archivists. Traditionally archives stood for a ‘dead-end’ comprehensiveness where as many documents as possible about a particular subject filled many boxes on dusty shelves. Artists by questioning the nature, role and use of data and their appropriation and creative updating of archival methods have created a debate about the definition of an archive.

Christine Mackey commissioned a number of artists, an art critic and an environmental sociologist to develop textual work or small sketches in relation to a short text that she gave them to respond to. She is interested in the tactics used by individuals and artists to navigate daily existence in environment where local and globalised strategies are imposed upon them by local and outside agencies. In this she is influenced by the French philosopher Michael de Certeau who explored the ‘tactics’ used by people to adapt to ‘strategies’ imposed upon them by for example government. She is also influenced by the anthropologist James Clifford’s recent work concerns the response of local politics to globalization. He is researching the effects of regional, national, and international power on different cultures by studying museums, festivals, tourism, and ethnic performance. Much of his work focuses the decolonization of the pacific region and its impact on the culture of the indigenous people such as native Californians pacific islanders.

This exhibition can be seen as an archival mapping of the artist’s journey in Central America. As the artist puts it: ‘the exhibition thus ‘constitutes an assembly of narratives and interchanges, moving from one place to another; an accumulation of voices between time zones and continents deliberated as a line across space and as a dedication to the memory of Brigid’.

The exhibition is accompanied by a limited edition 90 page full colour catalogue.

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