The Way Things Go – An Homage – Peter Fischli and David Weiss at Butler Gallery, Kilkenny until 15th October, 2017.

Liam O’Callaghan, Aideen Barry,  and Film Fischli & Weiss at Butler Gallery.

When I was in first or second year in art school we where shown a film by Fischli and Weiss (1987).  It was an ordinary afternoon, if any afternoon there could be said to be that.  We all shuffled slowly into the screening room unsure of what was in store this time.  To say I was blown away by the following thirty minutes would be an understatement.   At first I was slightly annoyed  and the typical questions rushed in ‘how could this be art?’ or ‘this is a bit hard to swallow’  Yet after watching the tyres, water balloons, plastic and wooden makeshift platforms, exploding and rolling as in an unstoppable domino effect, I was completely and utterly bowled over.  It was funny and completely engaging and it was poking fun at all of us, future artists and the world we were cocooned in.
That was one of the moments when I ‘got it’, when I understood the profound relevance of art in all its unexpected, post-structuralist manifestations.   I remember feeling so sure and excited that this was the kind of artwork I wanted to make. The kind that hooks the viewer in with the ordinariness of the objects and scenarios.  Yet the lasting effect goes far beyond the gallery and into the wider world.  You can hate work like that, or love it, or be annoyed by it but you cannot fail to be very moved by it.
The Butler Gallery invited a group of artists to respond to this influential film – Aideen Barry, Hannah Fitz, Atsushi Kaga, Nevan Lahat, Jonathan Mayhew and Caroline McCarthy, Maggie Madden, Isabel Nolan and Liam O’Callaghan.  All artists acknowledged the influence of the work on their own work.
How exciting it was to move from one installation to the other and back to the film again. I found it uplifting and reaffirming to experience the new works but it was strangely upsetting to remember the first time I saw the film in my college screen room some years ago.  I was filled with so much apprehension and doubt about my future at the time.   However,  a lot has happened since then and now I have emerged out of the cocoon. I am an artist too, struggling to make my own work that might hook someone in.  Work that might make or offer a little space for thinking anew about art and life and what it is to be human.
I loved this exhibition, all of it.   It runs until 15th October and should not be missed.

Derrida and Dreaming and Nothing outside the Text.


 Hunt for the Inner Gyre 1 & 2 – Wexford County Council Buildings, Wexford.


And Creatures Dream ……….A New Language – this two-venue show at Wexford County Council and Wexford Arts Centre ​(3rd July – 25th August 2017) is my first major group exhibition.   I am a newcomer to the art world. I am also a relative latecomer to it.    Our lives are shaped by the time, situation and community into which we are born. I see my progress through the world in phases. I am buy one tiny speck of humanity in the vastness of the universe.  We are all specks of matter which make up the whole.  Each speck exists and therefore presents a purpose.

I make a context for my existence in the universe.

Phase 1   0-20 years          – Getting a grip on the world.

Phase 2   20-40 years        – Tightening the grip.

Phase 3   40 – 60  years    – Clutching at straws.

Phase 4   60 –  90 years     – Letting go.

Of course this must be the most condensed version of a life ever written but it situates me in a context in the world.   Phase 4 – Letting Go – begins now and it is a true phase of freedom.  Freedom of the mind through continuous learning.   Freedom of the heart through understanding about how we are constructed in society to live in particular ways.   Freedom of the spirit to dream big, regardless of age, situation or the bias of the unfree.

Jacques Derrida, the French Philosopher questioned the dominant philosophical thinking and traditions underpinning our Western culture. In simple terms, Derrida attempted to undermine our understanding of language and experience and the accumulation of meaning through history.  My Phase 4 – Letting Go must be concerned with mining and undermining my own life experiences in the context of deconstructing my programming and training.   A quality third level education in art has provided many keys to unlocking my psychological prisons of conditioning and control.   Through continued enquiry and the creative process of my art practice I am now free to question again all the answers I have ever been given to anything, in any context.

 There is a future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future, l’avenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected. For me, that is the real future. That which is totally unpredictable. The Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future, beyond the other known future, it is l’avenir in that it is the coming of the Other when I am completely unable to foresee their arrival’. – Jacques Derrida.


Little Silver Fish.

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Did you see the blue of the sea

And the sky, with a rainbow. 

Daisies in green fields 

Little streams with silver fish. 

Smell sweet red roses, 

Yellow daffodils dancing.

Were you afraid in the dark

Of noises, stone cold voices

When your belly swelled up

Gnaw gnaw aching all night

 Could pain keep up with your tiny heart

Your mamma’s kisses making it better

Always loving you.


Living Along Into The Answer.



Sunday morning reading wouldn’t be complete without a visit to my inbox to see what Maria Popova has brought together this week from her vast research and collection of philosophical delights in Brainpickings (htpps:// Today she writes about Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875–December 29, 1926) and his book ‘Letters to a Young Poet’. In a 1903 letter to his protégé, the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus, Rilke writes:

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer’.

‘Your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebellious. But don’t give in, insist on arguments and act this way, watchful and consistent, every single time, and the day will arrive when from a destroyer it will become one of your best workers — perhaps the cleverest of all that are building at your life’.

Depending on my own philosophical mood I can take or leave these musings but sometimes Maria’s selections seem to resonate with me and are appropriate at that given moment. This of course will always depend on my particular receptiveness rather than on any exciting serendipity. Even so, it is when we need that bit of motivation or empathy most we go searching for it or open ourselves up to it.

The above passages from Rilke’s letters seem appropriate today and importantly they seem to make sense for any day. The idea of living along into the answer appeals to me, today that is.