Abridged 0 – 4: An(other) Irishman in New York

Curator Greg McCartney, selecting for a 2007 Context project, reports from an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Residency in New York.

Week 1. ‘Once again a knife wielding maniac has shown us the way…’

Well what a first week it’s been in this irritable if not actually angry city! In Derry would they stop a bus until a guy who’s insisting that it’s his constitutional right to drink a coffee on the bus actually drinks the coffee? Back home we’d just call him strange and let him drink the coffee. But here the employees are equally afraid that the guy has a gun or that the boss might appear and find a guy drinking illegal coffee so lose their job. This happened five minutes after I arrived.

As you’ve already guessed these blog entries from our man in New York will ramble much like he’s been wandering through the New York streets. There will be reports on good art, bad art, silly art and of course expensive art, which is a category in itself. Plus anything else that comes to mind! And Donald Trump.

Well I started my explorations in Chelsea (and not just because of the Hotel or the Football team…well maybe a little) as that is very a lot of galleries live. And I do mean ‘a lot of’! There seem to be millions, piled upon each other; from street level to sixth floor. After about the tenth show your eyes start to glaze over. They used to apparently subject prisoners in the Spanish Civil War to repeated exposure to abstract paintings as a form of torture. Let me tell you it works! I’d have told them anything! There is of course no doubt excellent essential commercial reasons for dodgy abstraction but bloody hell…However there is good stuff amongst the dross. It’s just a matter of walking a lot. And avoid the traffic. Traffic it may be argued is at the bottom of the very aggressive US foreign policy. Anyone who has to either drive or cross roads here (i.e. everyone) knows that road laws are just advisory and not to be adhered to especially if avoidance is advantageous to self. Consequently there is a constant battle of wills between cars and pedestrians, cars and cars, lorries and everyone. Thus New York is continually narked. Imagine if it’s the same in Washington. Someone has to suffer. Road rage therefore could be the driving force behind American foreign policy.

I feel that it’s my duty to point out that if you have bad skin, hair, are ‘chubby’ or acne then Chelsea galleries (with one or two hopefully honourable exceptions of whom more in future) probably won’t employ you. They are entirely populated by very ‘beautiful’ types. Though this might of course be completely coincidental. The spaces I have come across so far themselves are a mixed bag. The more expensive (and I used the term deliberately) galleries have essentially made for themselves white cubes with big windows in former factory buildings. The smaller galleries seem to make more imaginative use of the spaces they inhabit. I’m going to go into more detail about the shows I’ve seen in future entries but artists that should be googled include Christina Ray, Lynne Gelfman, James Surls, Jon Waters (yeah, that one) and Maurico Alejo. I’ll go into more detail anon.

Well that’ll do as an introduction. By the way I’ve stolen the Factory records habit of giving a number to everything. Talent borrows, genius steals and all that. More soon about exhibitions, artists and galleries. And Donald Trump.

Primary Forms, NWIFHE HND Show 2006

Primary Forms

N.W.I.F.H.E HND Fine Art Final Year Exhibition
Previews Friday 28 April 8pm Exhibition Runs To 6 May

Context Galleries furthers its support for visual arts in the region with this exhibition of final year work by the students of the North West Institute of Further & Higher Education. The exhibition includes a rich diversity of media and approaches, from painting to video to installation, and is a unique opportunity for all to see the emerging artists of the city at the high point of their careers to date.

Featured artists:

Ben King Signed inside lilac by the D.N.A of Ben King describes six senses, sense which give the ability of existence. Received by senses, processed by emotion and expressed as art to become aware of the capabilities of sound, sight, taste, touch, smell and balance is what gives us freedom in this concrete jungle.

Padraig Lynch My work is based on the theme of depression and gambling as I feel as a young person within society that it is a problem seldom dealt with and is easily overshadowed by other issues i.e. alcoholism and drug addiction. I used a range of materials including oil paints, newspaper, latex, plaster, mod roc etc. I’ve also used a range of mark-making techniques to create an atmosphere, and to put across my feelings.

Tommy Long In my work I tackle the social issue of alcohol abuse. I have painted the street drinkers of Derry because I want to bring people face to face with the alcoholic. I want to show that behind each of these faces is a real person, a person entitled to the same respect as all of us. Alcoholism is a disease that affects all classes. I want to portray these sufferers with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Mark McDermott The Do-It-Yourself Autopsy
The Do-It-Yourself Autopsy is a German Expressionist influenced conceptual piece meditating on the nature of “Shock Art” and what exactly it is. It is also a satire, of sorts on “extreme artists” who use art as an excuse to mutilate and defile their bodies.

Eva Conboy Extinct ,Plaster and Polystyrene
Weathered pieces of wood, buoys washed up on the beach, polystyrene packaging are some of the found objects I incorporate directly or indirectly in my work. This piece is an attempt to integrate materials and processes of the past with themes and issues of the contemporary world. It is part planned, part improvised. Essentially, through sculpture I want to make a physical celebration of what is thrown away, discarded or ignored in the ever more disposable world.

Eoghan Deane Primarily the work deals in the amalgamation of materials, symbols and narratives and how they intersperse with each others elements to propagate questions of biological growth and entropy. This process is structured around the Greed Mythological tale of the God Apollo and the Satyr Marsyas where a musical contest is performed. Marsyas loses and is flayed of his skin as punishment for being in a state of hubris.
This story is consumed and excreted by the gallery literally and metaphorically, the sculptures and drawings presented mark these stages of consumption, the passage of digestion and the conclusion of excretion. The sculptures and drawings have elements that recognise and narrate the biological process occurring in the gallery and also the story of Marsyas’ journey from the beginning of the game to its conclusive properties.

Brian Mallon The last icon is dead and gone.
My work is based on the idea of media martyrs and youth culture relying on figures in the public eye for a life basis. It is about hero worship. Media: canvas and spray paint.

Grainne Stewart My work is based around social issues, involving refugees, asylum seekers and the effect of desolation that has on people. I would consider my work as an attempt to show suffering that arises out of conflict, as it is my belief that life is precious, as is such when I portray suffering it is to show that life is too short for it. Bad things should not happen, but they do! I want to make people think about it, but not to judge it. I want to portray these sufferers with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Daniel Gallanagh I express my feelings of the heightened, euphoric times I have had in my life. These times should not be forgotten but should be celebrated. This is possible with such a powerful media like paint and the process of painting emulates these feelings and make it possible to relieve and recreate these moments in time. Through construction, appropriate mark making gestures, appropriate medium and expressive colour each session is similar to a physical rendering of the moment. Feelings experienced and captured in the mechanics of process!

Sinead Millar
This piece is about feminism and all great women artists who have campaigned to get women recognised in the art world as professional artists and not as they where once labelled as “extensions of their husband’s genius”. This piece symbolises all that women have done over the years so that women today could be equal in relation to human rights, in and out of the art world.

Noel C.Barr The Cube
“I am personally driven to create my work using knowledge from my past, present and future that I dream about….”
“I socialise with every day obstacles and creative people for inspiration. Within inspiration I usually go into a trance like state.”
Why is that?
Is it because we are surrounded with temptations, barricades, obstructions mentally that we can’t see past, therefore resulting in a pause, maybe only for a milli-second or a second until what we were thinking about returns.
Using video to explore my urges to try different mediums, each video will have a significant meaning relating to peoples lives in general, but it’s connecting them to solve the puzzles to questions are sub-conscience often ask us when we go through change or experience something different…
But beyond the moving image there will be a vacuum created within the room, between the viewers thoughts, confusion and moving images and the other wall they become, the missing jigsaw piece. In other words, there is a cube like shape completed when the lid is fixed on top, the audience is the lid to close off the confined obstacles, to close off, or shall I say hide away, because nothing every completely disappears. It’s always somewhere else, maybe in a different state but still there………..

Matthew PorterExperimental Photography: Through my photographs I am trying to show the reoccurring patterns that exist throughout the universe. I approached a non representational way using paint as well as plants to create abstract natural forms.

See entry below for footage of Safe Cracker

Mark Hill, Safe Cracker

Check our new link to view fantastic footage for our 2003 project Safe Cracker with artist Mark Hill. Go to link on the right Safe Break @ White Diamond, then click on the diamond logo, then click on link White Diamond, then click on link Safe Break, and then click on the link for Safecracker video.