Videos, performances and prints showcase the creative ability of DJCAD’s talented group of time-based artists. On entering the studios on opening night, the sight that presented itself was one of a curious juxtaposition: two people dressed in military attire and a cluster of hand-crafted puppets. I was instantly intrigued.
The little gathering of puppets is the creation of a collaborating duo, Deborah Chapman and Mark McGreehin. Entitled “How do you see ADHD?”, their work centres on interviews carried out with children who live with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The film work contains reconstructed footage where Deborah and Mark use puppets to lip-sync to the recorded conversations. The high degree of honesty makes for a very powerful film, while the use of puppets makes it easier for viewers to watch the video.
Adjacent is the autobiographical work of Lora Caffrey. She captures on film the journeys she has taken into areas that were forbidden as a child, exploring rational and irrational fears, namely those passed down to her by her parents as a result of living in 1980s Belfast. These videos form part of a larger installation. By forcing viewers to enter her gallery space though a military check point she conjures up a sense of dread that is comparable to that which is evident on film. William Pearce also examines emotions in his documentary film “Anxiety Project”. Exhibited on the gallery wall, Pearce brings together interviews with people from different career backgrounds, calling into question the nature of anxiety and its effect on everyday life. Displaying all ten interviews simultaneously, the visual fragments and the bombardment of sound creates a deep sense of unease as viewers attempt to take it all in, encapsulating the nature of his project perfectly.
Walking around the studio, one could mistake another exhibition for a retro music store. An array of cassettes, tape player, posters and sheet music culminate in the work by Joe Coghill. Staged as an archive, it is an attempt to answer the question ‘Who is John Margotti?’, while also bringing into debate ownership, authenticity and the role of artists as curators. Piecing together sections of found footage, Coghill’s film piece offers a fictional narrative of the life of Margotti.
The futuristic provides inspiration for Colin Maclean whose monochrome video “Stasis” presents a mesmerizing dystopian void that verges on the hypnotic. In a constant state of flux, the combination of eclectic imagery and sound is tantalising as it shifts restlessly between abstraction and representation. Sci-fi is also embedded in the work exhibited by Aimee Stewart. A note of caution for the squeamish must be recorded: equally fascinating as it is disturbing, “The Human Connection” involves video evidence of Aimee undergoing a process in where a RFID implant has been surgically inserted into her hand.
Utilising the body as an artistic medium is also put to good use by Sarah Smart. Her performances, having been documented and reinstated into the space through film and digital prints, are an exploration into gender identities. By blurring and disrupting gender norms through her subversive acts, Sarah challenges and unsettles feminine stereotypes. Don’t be alarmed however, for her works are tastefully subtle.
The selection of drawings, text and sound pieces by Madeleine Coussens are refreshing amid the intensity of other works on displays. Captivated by the nature of memory, her various pieces champion small, often forgotten, episodes that so often slip us by. Her work is playful, inviting the viewer to engage with memories by listening to readings or by guessing what is real and what is fictive. Madeleine’s work is delightfully personal.
Before exiting the studios, don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness the cinematic phenomenon that is “Solium”. Created by Michael Hunter and Robbie Gray, it is a beautiful portrait of one man’s attempt to cleanse himself of modern life. The film stands as a fitting reminder again of the impressive talent on display.