May 26, 2008

After Thoughts

The most affirming part of attending the European Museums Forum was seeing that there are plenty of museums out there not corrupted by English anti-intellectualism or New Labour. You see curators who quote Proust (“the truly imperfect earth is not one which is devoid of masterpieces of art but one which is full of them and does not know how to love them or preserve them”) rather than their performance indicator regime. The comparison was most striking comparison for me was the presentation by Weston Park Museum in Sheffield ( and Museo degli Sguardi. Rimini's Ethnographic Collections (
The former proudly told us how their public had been completely involved in every stage of the design and selection of displays; how they had won the Guardian’s Family Friendly Museum of the Year Award; how the community was at the heart of the museum. It reminded me of my last visit to Manchester Art Gallery which has a similar ethos, when the galleries could only really be described as a massive crèche – during the video installation in the Asia Triennial it was literally impossible to enter the dark space to see the work because it was full of toddlers and crying babies. However, of the 40 odd curators who presented at the Forum (including me) this year, I was most struck by Maurizio Biordi from Rimini. He didn’t speak English so was translated by his assistant. Contrary to the dominant UK model of vacuity, over-loaded social conditioning and curatorial deskilling, he talked about The Museum of Impressions – a museum in a place where people don’t go for cultural tourism, the museum itself is not ideally located in the town, the museum houses an inconceivably curious and out of context collection of relics from various continents assembled by numerous travellers and collectors. I met some really good people, museum directors I am keen to work with, but Maurizio Biordi’s commitment to thinking, to looking at the object was inspiring.

May 14, 2008


Here I am in sunny Dublin. Initially I am here to work on Mirror Canon Snips in time for the Melbourne installation in June; later in the week I am here for the European Museums Forum. In a break in the work yesterday morning, I took a pleasant walk in the sun through St.Stephen’s Green and round to the Douglas Hyde Gallery. There was a video installation by Willie Doherty made up of a quite nicely shot footage of a winter wood (apparently near Belfast) intercut with shots of a concrete urban housing estate, overlaid with an enigmatic soft-accented deep-voiced narrative of visiting either or both. It had the feel of Robbe-Grillet’s great snapshot set on a forest walk and filmic Last Year in Marianbad – both of which I find more satisfying: I strongly recommend RG’s book Snapshots – but the Doherty piece is harmless enough. There was also a small selection of key objects which informed a booklet published by Paul Mosse by the Gallery. This was a delightfully whimsical selection and better than the Doherty in its lack of pomposity.

May 10, 2008


More from Recursive Shadows (photos by Steve Walton) ; The beautiful glass and lava construction by Icelandic artist Ragna Róbertsdóttir. When I was in Reykjavik last year I wrote the poem 'hrafntinna' for her, part of my ongoing "The Canon" sequence. ('hrafntinna' is Icelandic for Obsidian.) Although the blog format buggers up the line endings, etc., here it is:

cleavage black grey red tunnelling a permanent record of the mechanical impact, standing parallel to the cube. The core of many processes we take for granted slipping across an apparently uncrossable horizon. Because tunnelling efficiency also drops off with distance. Vicariant daughters and sons – our hierarchy of mediated imposition asks of recursion and definition and positive lineage. Extracts. The rules bleak if embodied in processes brought into close proximity, the rippling, gradual curves scented with conchoidal fracture grown by rifting and crust through the apparent crowding inside. This square glass boundary breaks flexural waves in release. Its stillness ripples and cracks and fractures in crystals taking the lower energy release ratio with periods of relative quiescence;

cleavage until cleaved apart commuted between here and far-field glass mountains parallel to a diagonal plane. Functionally colourless even if it is not actually colourless nearly colourless, endless until its edge is thought said in another way within the new complexity felt more fullerene than its touch; same grey colours devotedly to projection of latent collections, houses, spaces, gaps, with containers and contents and objects leaning, a veritable thinness, objects cleaving to the dichotomy of sagas within the part of larger orders of magnitude observed across small fissures emanating from the bulb of percussion - naturally occurring obsidian monotonic the fall which is an absence like streets. Her divergent boundary, action, situations, fluents with no time to straighten before frost’s northern cleavage expanses in value the absence of a family of well-understood random slips parallel to the lateral planes but horizons and fractures in crystals with periods of relative quiescence between particles defined random as shear history in piles of brimstone in the prepersonal intensity of every hand. The peculiar property possesses presenting the proportion, the likelihood of proportion to the size of the formation and propagation of cracks tears in materials ranging from glass to lava variations thrown, the direction of the tear or tears, the roughness of a fractured surface which resembles cracks and tears; the percolation of fluids through disordered media through beds framing their corrugated filter-law. Functionally black even if it is not actually black wind whistles in the light of northern rock , a cleavage, absence like streets transparent framing somewhere close to this poset edge, parallel to a vertical Prism by weight structure of dust coral shell glass nature orbits debris of her hill sphere formation, her specifically her without the rain there and not there would pry loose any plenary behaviour metastable and legal fiction: independently peopled who do not follow any natural planes of separation: Tunnel: most readily over distances comparable held in prisms fine-grained igneous and rock freezes symmetries that are continuous motions without sufficient time in the presence of impurities and depending. Recursive divergent boundary, action, situations, fluents with no time to straighten before frost whence isolation’s peripheral horizon informs anyone anywhere of dusts other

May 07, 2008

Recursive Shadows

Alan Charlton
Ulrich Rückriem
Ragna Róbertsdóttir

curated by Tony Trehy
at Bury Art Gallery

I'm particularly proud of this show - now open until 5 July.
The Guardian comments about it:
"Far from being clinically purist, this kind of minimalism, with its whisperings of otherness and almost hypnotic technical application, is fully capable of provoking a hearty sense of wonderment"