The NCAD Gallery presents, Furtive Tears # Pass, a solo presentation of work by artist Níamh McCann.
NCAD Gallery presents 'Furtive Tears # Pass'
Friday, 22nd September - Monday, 16th October 2017
The NCAD Gallery is pleased to present, Furtive Tears # Pass, a solo exhibition of new work by artist Níamh McCann, to open Friday 22 September 2017, 6pm. As an artist, McCann’s work places the viewer within a matrix of thematic contexts from the built environment to fictional scenarios and historical coincidences. Her visioning is made manifest in works of drawing, painting and multi-medium sculptures which are often presented as part of a larger installation work and are often site-responsive.
In May 2016, the School of Fine Art, National College of Art and Design, Dublin (NCAD) awarded McCann the inaugural NCAD Fine Art Studio Residency 2016/2017. Níamh was based in the Annex building, postgraduate hub at the NCAD until September 2017 making significant contributions to the MFA Fine Art programme and as a member of the College community. As part of this exhibition presentation and in particular relating to its institutional context, writer and critic Chris Fite-Wassilak, invited by the artist and commissioned by the Gallery, has written an adjoining essay in response to this iteration of McCann's work at this time.
For Culture Night 2017, Friday 22 September at 5pm the NCAD Gallery presents the Furtive Tears # Pass, a solo exhibition of new work by artist Níamh McCann and exhibition event. The NCAD Gallery is delighted to welcome writer and critic, Chris Fite-Wassilak who will make a presentation in response to McCann's exhibition, followed by a performance of Una Furtiva Lagrima by tenor and theatre-maker Séan Kennedy. The event is scheduled to start at 5pm sharp, followed by the exhibition opening view of Furtive Tears # Pass at 6pm. The NCAD Gallery is open until 9.45pm for Culture Night 2017. All welcome, no booking necessary.
Furtive Tears # Pass exhibition continues: Monday 25 September - Monday, 16 October 2017, 1pm-5pm. Please read further below for artist information.
Furtive Tears # Pass | Exhibition Essay by Chris Fite-Wassilak.
We all too frequently seek to save the emotional content of past epochs, without first thinking what use it is to us.
Hans Poelzig, “Fermentation in Architecture”, 1906
1996. A highway:
A young girl sits in the back seat, staring sideways out of the golden Volvo at the highway and landscape going by. She’s developed a game of sorts to amuse herself, watching the electricity wires that run parallel to the highway bob up and down from pole to pole. The game is simply imagining a line, or beam, projecting from the string of wires out into the landscape, a line that would cut into any tree or hill that it encountered. It would take elliptical slices out of tall houses, trim the tops of pines, and remove semi-circular chunks from outcropping land.
Her parents have cycled through their car cassette collection, finishing with Billy Joel before returning again to the Best of Cyndi Lauper. Then you say, ‘Go slow’, I fall behind… the second hand unwinds, she sings. They’ve been driving for what feels like weeks, a family tour now on the way to Dresden. Flipping through one book on the city briefly before she gets carsick, she come across a browned black and white image of an imposing building occupying one corner of the city. During the crest of the first world war, Dresden had an official architect; his one achievement was a bank building, a sort of rectangle punctuated by what look like draped columns. The faded photograph looks almost like a drawing, and the flowing, regulated design of the building makes it seem almost organic, a blurring that to her adolescent eyes looks like the dark sprouting, rounded nests of aliens. Poelzig, the book explains, regarded curvature as a sort of pocket of time, a way to draw the eyes and also to stall them. He drew on Gothic-style flourishes but magnified them, seeking to bind the occupants of his buildings up in a paradoxical sense of parallel times. Listening to the song again – If you're lost you can look and you will find me¬ – she thinks: these people keep talking about time and aftertime. What relationship does aftertime have to time out; bedtime; time to go. Where do all these other times go? Or stay?
Poelzig’s bank was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden on the night of 14 February, 1945. The Volvo was destroyed in 1997, in a 122 car pile up in a fog just outside Vicenza.
1973. A suburb:
The boy has been building his castle for weeks. He’s followed the fifty-three page manual step by step, brick by brick, counted each notch and layer. He had to rebuild a whole turret after mistaking one corner piece for another. The set of hundreds of loose plastic bricks had come with a slip of paper that said, ‘You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship.’ But then it had also come with the fifty-three page booklet, that explained exactly how to build the castle. He built the castle.
The structure sat on a low cabinet for weeks. It was a fairly drab, squat black and grey thing, but it held a veneration for him, like an intricate model car or plane: you looked, but didn’t touch. It gathered a layer of thick dust.
So it was with some surprise that one afternoon when a friend of his brother’s lost his balance and, in slow motion, sat on the castle. The front had caved in, a tower had fallen. After pushing the two older boys out of the room and slamming the door, through the door the brother, a future architect, tried to console him: it can be rebuilt. But no; it was wrecked in his eyes. Why put so much effort into creating this fortress, this monument, to only remake it? It felt like fraud. The feeling could only be located in the first instance, not in doing the act again, right? It felt like repeating a joke, because it hadn’t been heard the first time, and the delivery was then dead in the water. The boy had considered it Finished, a full stop in a shapeless life. Life, the brother’s friend had joked unnecessarily, wasn’t done with it yet.
The toy castle had come to mind when, years later, he came across a suggestion for urban renewal: to partially demolish churches, and leave the ruins with no trace of their original function, or, better yet, to raze the churches to the ground and then build ruins in their place. It was then the castle struck him as a symbol of his intransigence, a stubborn clinging to finality no matter how modular the design. The castle had stayed as it was for a year, smouldering in the same place, before eventually being broken up into its constituent parts and added to the other tubs filled with thousands of brittle little bricks.
1984. A dark room.
The family has been bickering. Again. About what doesn’t matter so much, perhaps just the pressures of parking, queuing, now standing in front of a stage for ten minutes. Regardless, they’re not talking as a buoyant, overly cheery compere takes the stage. The crowd are going to be led to another room shortly, he promises – but first, they need a volunteer.
The father grabs the child’s arm and lifts it up. Great, the compere says pointing at the child. Come on backstage. Mortally shy, too much so to publically protest this injustice, the child wordlessly obeys. Backstage, the child is dressed in Western gear and hoisted onto a fake horse. It’s simple, they say, all you have to do it raise up your ten gallon hat, and wink. The gesture is a recreation from the opening credits for a popular television show that the child has never seen.
The wall in front of the child lifts, faced suddenly with hundreds of blank stares. Music begins. The child woodenly lifts the hat off its head, and winks on the side of its face that the audience can’t see.
On the long, silent car ride home, the child ponders the relationship between architecture, theatre and accident. Perhaps not in those terms, but in essence: the first being a planned space or structure, designed with certain uses in mind; like, say, building a theatre. Theatre – as an activity, something like approaching a verb, not the physical thing – being a scripted action, premeditated, rehearsed and ready, that then is played out (with some minor adjustments, of course, given to human error). The third then being the real time result of the two: what actually happens. It would seem, the child thinks, you can plan all you like, but other things are inevitably going to shoot off in other directions. The best you might do is give up and jump gleefully between the three, though the child isn’t feeling very gleeful. Normal conversation begins two days later.
Image: Image courtesy of the artist, Níamh McCann.
Níamh McCann is an Irish artist living and working in Dublin.
McCann’s interest is in the interweaving of fact and fiction, the overlapping layers of history and fable that are contained within the cultural and physical structures we construct. Her works draw together different reference points which are distilled into a kind of sculptural poetry. Engaging with landscape, she balances a portrayal of the view as subject with a primary concern in the culturally constructed. Exploring how we are both subject to and maker of our landscape; a complex relationship of circularity. The pivotal role of the built (the architectural trope) and the mediated environment is central to these explorations.
McCann is particularly interested in the parallax between location, both cultural and geographic, and assumed commonalities and common histories; most particularly as evidenced in the interplay of visual culture and histories and the created environment. Disparate inﬂuences are united by the idealism they represented in their original incarnations and the ways in which, over time, they have become overlaid with overlapping layers of narrative, history and fable. The artist's exploration of these themes takes the form of concise built objects in multi-mediums, often presented within larger installations and site-responsive pieces. Within all works, from drawings, wall drawings to larger scale pieces she is centrally concerned with the physicality and placement of viewer relative to object, to context and to site.
Since 2013, alongside with other exhibition occasions Niamh McCann has been working on large-scale projects and commissions for interior and exterior exhibition at Limerick City Gallery of Art, VISUAL Carlow and MAC Belfast. Group exhibitions include; Future Perfect, Rubicon-Projects Brussels, Belgium, Changing States: Contemporary Art and Francis Bacon's Studio, BOZAR, Belgium, Time Out of Mind: Works from the IMMA Collection, Twenty at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; In Other Words at Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; this little bag of dreams, Catherine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, and Without-Boundaries, Wäinö Attonen, Museum of Art, Finland.
McCann is the recipient of various prestigious Arts Council of Ireland awards, and fellowships at Cemeti Arthouse, Indonesia; HIAP, International Artists' Residency, Cable Factory, Helsinki, Finland, URRA Artist Residency, Argentina, Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Ireland; and of Perspective and EV+A exhibition awards . Her work is represented in the collections; Irish Museum of Modern Art, the OPW, Limerick City Gallery, Swansea City Council, The London Institute, Hiscox Collection, London. Níamh McCann is represented by the Green On Red Gallery, Dublin. Please find further information about the artist here.
Chris Fite-Wassilak is a writer and critic based in London, he is contributor to Art Monthly, Art Papers, ArtReview, frieze, Tate Etc. and others. Please find further information here.
Seán Kennedy is a performer, theatre maker and classically trained singer from Dublin. Seán makes work that blends live music and opera with his own experience of trauma and pain, aiming to be raw, intimate and affecting. He began studying vocal technique at the DIT Conservatory of Music in 2008, and in 2012 won the gold medal for the Tenor Solo at the National Feis Ceoil. He has since performed in the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark and Romania as a soloist in touring productions. Most recently, he sung the voice of the poet Yeats in The Woods and Grandma, at Smock Alley Theatre in February 2017. Seán debuted as a theatre maker in 2015 with boy, a piece about love and domestic violence, presented at the Dublin Fringe 2015, and again at the Theatreszene Festival Cologne in May 2016. He was Live Collision’s artist in residance for 2017.
Anne Kelly Curator, NCAD Gallery
NCAD Gallery Contact Anne Kelly Programme Curator firstname.lastname@example.org
National College of Art & Design, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin, D08 K521, Ireland.
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