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.