A MacGuffin and Some Other Things
Including works by Lucy Andrews, Işıl Eğrikavuk, David Hall, Alice Rekab, and Judith Scott
12 April–16 June 2012
Thursday, 12 April, 6pm
Project Arts Centre
39 East Essex Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
The first man asks “What’s a McGuffin?” “Well,” the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.” The first man says “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,” and Alfred Hitchcock answers “Well, then that’s no MacGuffin!”
The original script for the exhibition A MacGuffin and Some Other Things focused on the object as it occurs within the narrative of a play or film. The exhibition has gone somewhat off-script. Things slowly took over. The works on display vary between objects that ‘perform’ or imply a script, video works that contain a script, and performative works that serve to enact or disrupt a script, examining the effect that sculptural objects have on meaning.
There is a moment in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Film’ where the protagonist, ‘O.’ (for Object) played by Buster Keaton, draws the curtains in his apartment. They have been used so often as a means to block out the world that they have become nothing more than dangling rags, yet O. draws them and is reassured. In her objects and installations, Lucy Andrews takes scraps and remainders, things which are transformed or transferred from their original use, and using the support systems for the building’s facilities (plumbing, electricity), gives them another life. David Hall‘s ‘TV Interruptions’ are sculptural video works that disrupted broadcast television in 1971. The works interrupted the television scripts of the day, thereby momentarily turning the television into a sculptural object in the living room.
Director J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) describes the basis of all his work, as a ‘mystery box’ of magic tricks given to him by his grandfather. Abrams decided never to open the box, realising that the not knowing and the box itself held more value for him than its contents could ever have. Judith Scott‘s sculptures similarly contain all kinds of unknowable things. Scott collected found objects and wrapped them in yarn, thread and fibres, resulting in amorphous works which appear both tense and light, stolid and assertive. X-rays have revealed the inaccessible and complex collection of appropriated objects held inside the sculptures.
In Howard Hawks’ film ‘Bringing up Baby’, Cary Grant’s character declares to Katharine Hepburn’s character, by whom he is being pursued: “The only way you’ll get me to follow another of your suggestions is to hold a bright object in front of my eyes and twirl it.” The suggestion is that her growing power over him could be transferred into an object which he could then claim to be powerless to resist. In Işıl Eğrikavuk‘s film Infamous Library the artist, off camera, hands the protagonist a small unidentifiable object. “And this is the object,” she says in English “the only object that you were able to get out of the library. You don’t know what it is about but you found it in one of the books and you hid it.” She switches to Turkish “This is going to confirm the existence of the library in the eyes of the audience.”
Last year, an independent radio station reported on a form of psychosis wherein the sufferer failed to recognise a person who was otherwise very familiar to them, as a protective response to a traumatic event between them. However, if the unrecognised went to the next room and telephoned, the ‘patient’ would recognise their voice and their relationship could continue in ‘safe mode’ while the relationship to their physical body, the person as an object, was suspended. In her performance and video works, Alice Rekab re-performs a series of videos designed to demonstrate the ‘alignment of body, mind and energy as a technique for optimising one’s overall condition’, disrupted by the inclusion of a number of sculptural objects.
The exhibition also includes a major structural intervention in the gallery space: a huge piece of fabric which splits the gallery in two horizontally, creating two viewing levels and forcing a divide between films or performed narrative works, and sculptural or kinetic objects. This partition is both pinned down and interrupted by a central weight, an object around which the show orbits, but whose intrinsic properties are unknown and, at first, seemingly irrelevant.
In addition to events within the gallery, the Irish Film Institute is delighted to present five special screenings of ‘This is Going to Take More Than One Night‘ featuring artworks by Isabel Nolan, Bea MacMahon, Alice Rekab and Sarah Pierce, addressing the place of the object within the script or performance. These free screenings will take place on April 17, and 19–22 inclusive, at 13.10 each day.
Guest curated by Vaari Claffey
David Fagan – Sensation
Project’s new experimental portal The Grotto presents a ‘dirty work’, an object that is aesthetically pleasurable and ready for display, but that is also self-consciously under-thought as a finished artwork. Basically, the low-rent space has become prime real estate for a peepshow.
Project Arts Centre is a multidisciplinary arts centre at the heart of Dublin, Ireland. The visual arts program commissions and curates new exhibitions with leading artists from around the world, and is supported by the Arts Council and Dublin City Council. In July and August of 2012 we will present exhibitions throughout Project’s gallery and theatres for the summer months, as an explosion of new commissions and installations with visual artists.
Admission to the Gallery of Project Arts Centre is always free.