Monday, February 15, 2010

'Thingamajig':exhibition at the Glucksman

At first, this seemed a very sparse, insubstantial exhibition, with a few seemingly unrelated objects occupying but a little space in two floors of the gallery. However, it was quite intriguing, with a few pieces in particular standing out. On that note, it's two days since I went to the exhibition, in which time I have processed some of what I saw, and those pieces that are strongest in my mind now, are clearly those that left the biggest impression.
The most fascinating piece, without a doubt, was an installation piece by two Swedish artists, in which they took objects from everyday life, such as candles, bottles, bags etc and set up a lengthy series of experiments involving cause and effect, managing to connect them all in what resulted in a transfixing piece of viewing. We stood watching from the beginning, a ball-chain slowly rotating, eventually tipping off a black sack to rotate from the pole on which it was hung, and after about ten minutes of enthralled watching, both decided we had to see how it ended. So, we watched, agape, as it slowly continued its journey to...? Well, I'm not going to'll just have to make it your business to go and see for yourself!
Another interesting item was that of the videos recounting the story of Ford boxes. Ford, a large factory in Cork until 1984 was not only responsible for making cars but also car parts that had to be contained so as to be assembled elsewhere. And so the Ford boxes became a by-product of Ford’s production methods. These boxes, which were also used in the shipping business, were waterproof, so were quite a valuable resource to anyone at the time seeking building materials. So, indeed, they were used, despite furtive appropriation methods, by innovative locals, often with a connection to the Ford or Dunlop factories. These houses still remain today, and their inhabitants were interviewed to tell their story.
Random items that contained 'found' objects put to valid use were also included, showing the innovation of their creator, elevating their status to that of 'art'. Such items included a telephone used as a mains adapter, an umbrella handle used as a lever in a welding device and golf tees used as tuning pegs in an Irish harp.
Videos, made by local broadcasters were also shown, one that sought to answer: Is Ireland clean? 'Indeed Ireland is beautiful', it said, 'but is Ireland clean?' It was rather amusing actually, to see the effort that went into answering this question, and also interesting to see the old footage, especially when it was so local, for example old parking discs, the old stripy HB signs outside shops...
The exhibition gave due recognition to everyday objects, items that surround us, but whose story would never be known if someone didn't take the trouble to ask. It shows how completely separate objects, often rubbish, can be creatively fused with others to make something great. And it demonstrated the principals of cause and effect: everything happens for a reason, things can have many uses, and how cultural boundaries are continually shifting as we see the interconnectedness of everything and everyone.

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