A series undertaken during the 126 “Unset in Stone” residency, culminating in a solo exhibition and opening poetry recital in March 2019 at the 126 Gallery, Galway. The title draws attention to the Latin root of the word “idol” – an insubstantial image, fallacy or apparition. This image of the phantom underlines the contract at work in canonisation, wherein the physical subject is traded in for a divine, alluring image. The enduring popularity of idols speaks to a human urge to redirect grief, confusion or isolation into an object of fixation. Idolum explores the visual traces of this impulse in the artist's home county Donegal, posing questions of intimacy and belonging.
McNutt draws on those historical (and historically masculine) ideals of freedom, strength and sacrifice that resurface in details of rural Irish youth culture, such as militaristic buzzcuts with tribal scratches, rebel rave songs or morbid joy riding bravado. There is often a fascination with martyrdom underlying these narratives, a romanticisation of loss. The artist invites us to consider the ways in which we fabulise those we admire in their absence.
Hair by Major Fader. Special thanks to models, anonymous writers, Major Fader Barbershop, Jon Mangion and Emma Zukovič.
In loving memory of Jan Simončič.