“Some big person”
I recently caught up with Totally Galway for a chat on the residency at the 126 Gallery. You can read the full interview here. There are print copies available throughout Galway.
I also published an article recalling my adventures in India last year, in Tank Magazine's new travel issue, available to read here for a limited time.
Rooted in the Latin monere (to ‘remind’, ‘advise’ or ‘warn’), a monument helps us to visualise the future in providing a particular image of the past. The recent endangerment of national monuments – like the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra under ISIL, or the Utah Bears Ears National Monument under Trump’s administration – has changed our understanding of commemorative structures. As restoration groups strive to preserve digital models of historical sites, sacred monuments are defined primarily as fragile deposits of information. Digital files themselves hold commemorative significance. When we think of the monument in this way, the scope broadens. Any act of publicly marking a collective identity or legacy can be seen as a monumental inscription – from graffitied tags and traces in drying concrete, to posts on memorialised facebook accounts and buzzcut scratches.
Even those working with seemingly ephemeral materials share ideas of legacy and heritage. Graffiti artists sometimes canonise the artists they admire and respect by tagging them with a simple halo above their name. With this project, I am tapping into this language of veneration/idolisation that is so familiar, we no longer have the tools to think critically about it. I conflate the two terms because I believe that idolisation and veneration are always more uncomfortably intertwined than we care to believe. This is why I have chosen to work with slogans, logos and trends rather than recognisable historical icons; I am interested in a process which I have previously called “forgetting in order to remember”.
Currently working on exhibition plans on which I will update you all soon. I'll leave you with a quote from civil rights campaigner and former MP Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. During an interview with Blindboy from the Rubberbandits, a member of the audience asked if she would consider returning to politics since there is nobody else to vote for. Devlin replied:
Doesn’t matter whether we’re Catholics or Protestants or whatever – it’s in our culture to look for salvation from on high, and to look to god, or some icon, or some big person, or some Bernadette, to gallop to the rescue. If only she was sitting in the job it would be alright. And that’s not true. It’s the job description, it’s the structure of the job, it’s the job itself that the problem is with. It’s the way we organise what we call democracy. It’s the way we organise what we call power.