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"The Unblinking Eye: Lens-based Art from the Collection"
2002-09-18 until 2003-02-16
Irish Museum of Modern Art
An exhibition from the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s own Collection exploring the many aspects of lens-based art opens to the public at IMMA on Wednesday 18 September 2002. The Unblinking Eye was devised in response to two major solo exhibitions at IMMA by artists who work with the camera; an exhibition of still photographs by the German artist, Thomas Ruff, with which this show will overlap for a short period, followed directly by a mid-career retrospective of the Derry-born artist Willie Doherty who’s work comprises photography, video, sound and text.
The Unblinking Eye comprises approximately 40 works, and draws on a wide range of practices, all of which incorporate the camera to make artworks of great diversity and technique. Works range from photoworks which document performances by artists such as Nigel Rolfe and Marina Abramovic´, digitally manipulated images by Grenville Davey and Angus Fairhurst, video works by Marie Jo LaFontaine, Ann Hamilton and Caroline McCarthy and a tape/slide installation by Pauline Cummins. Seen here for the first time in Ireland are four works by Hermione Wiltshire from the series I Modi. Wiltshire wittingly combines photographs of various reserved libraries in Rome with silhouettes taken from the erotic drawings by the 16th-century Italian artist Giulio Romano.
The photograph as evidence, as documentary record of reality has been used widely both inside and outside the artworld. Rachel Whiteread’s, Demolished, a set of before and after images of the destruction of 1960s London Tower blocks, are a beautiful but sobering reminder of the frailty of human aspiration. A similar theme lies at the heart of the installation, Property, by Beat Klein and Hendrikje Kühne. This work draws on advertising photographs from the property supplement of The Irish Times during the month of August 1998, a period of extraordinary economic growth in which rapidly rising house prices brought joy to some and despair to others. Their playful use of existing photographs exposes the fragile edifice of that economic boom.
The widespread acceptance of the photograph as evidence is subtly undermined by Hannah Collins’ use of black and white photography. Denying the colour of the visible world Collins’ unframed, large scale photoworks include the viewer and the architectural surroundings. Craigie Horsfield’s use of two dates, the date the photograph was taken and the date on which he printed it, raises the question about truth in relation to time. His deliberate destruction of the negative when he has made one unique and vulnerable print challenges another perception of photography, that it is endlessly available and does not require our total attention.