Christine Mackey, Points of Departure

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.

North West Visual Arts Archive

Originally uploaded by contextgalleries.

Live Archive 0 – 1

North West Visual Arts Archive
@ Context Galleries 2

11th November – 09th December 2006

The North West Visual Arts Archive presents Live Archive 0 – 1 the first of its Live Archive exhibition/project programme. Live Archive 0 – 1 is a linear history of Derry’s now defunct Orchard Gallery in installation form using gallery ephemera such as catalogues, invitation cards, gallery handouts and reviews.

The Orchard Gallery ran from 1978 to 2003 and established itself as an exciting and innovative institution at the forefront of contemporary art showing many of the leading names of Irish, European and world art. It put Derry on the world map as far as contemporary art was concerned. The installation is also an interactive research project which will offer the public the opportunity to contribute their memories, anecdotes and opinions of the gallery to the project thus creating a written narrative to accompany the exhibition. It is important that a regional arts archive protects and explores the local arts heritage of the area, as the nature of visual art is often very ephemeral and easily lost. But with the Live Archive projects this heritage will be updated and added to in an imaginative and thought-provoking manner. It is also very apparent that the meaning of the term ‘archive’ is no longer fixed. Many artists have appropriated archival terminology and strategies and used them in their own work thus there is now a fluidity of definition as to what archiving actually means. The North West Visual Arts Archive recognises this and will explore new methods of articulating the remit of the archive.

The North West Visual Arts Archive aims to accumulate, collate and make publicly available a coherently structured and easily accessible visual arts archive covering the local North West region, encompassing the counties of Derry, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo. The archive is continually added to and updated as new documents become available.

The archive is not intended to be merely a passive resource. Rather it is envisaged as a living entity with exhibitions, publications, lectures and workshops evolving from it. The Live Archive project is designed to visually articulate the remit of the archive and as a means of supporting local artistic practice and indeed the contemporary art scene in the North West. Archives have the capacity to cross artistic disciplines and boundaries and use multiple formats to initiate creative dialogue and projects with regard to past, present and future art production in the region.

At the end of Live Art: 0 – 1 The North West Visual Arts Archive will move to its permanent home in the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry though will continue to initiate off-site Live Archive projects, the first planned for spring/summer 2007 being a project looking at Derry art and artists working today.

Thanks to Colin Darke for permission to use his research notes on the early years of the gallery.

Live Archive 0 – 1:
Gregory McCartney: Project Coordinator
Cinza Parola: Research Assistant
Mara Cavalli: Research Assistant