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"Know Thyself: Mark Clare"
2005-08-23 until 2005-10-01
Temple Bar Gallery and Studios
Dublin, , IE Ireland

The autumn show at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios is an ambitious solo-exhibition by Irish artist Mark Clare.  ‘Know Thyself’ challenges viewers’ perceptions of observed social systems.  Issues of immigration and dislocation re-occur in the exhibition.  In the shadow of the recent terrorist bombings of London we are all too aware of the extreme actions brought on by sentiments of  displacement in our fractured society.  Clare’s artistic approach is not tied to a single field of vision.  Instead his actions, interventions and installations provide many viewpoints without the pathos of interpretation.  

‘Know Thyself’ brings together a body of work made by Clare over the last eighteen months and spans a multitude of countries and cultures from Norway, Austria, Hong Kong, China, Palestine to Iraq.  The contemplative title, also a strong provocation to the viewer, comes from a video piece originally begun in China in 2004.   For the opening night of his exhibition at the 411 gallery in Hang Zhou, Clare hired a "face reader".  Used since the time of Confucius, the Chinese believed that the face represented the energies, health and fortune of a person and they wished to live in harmony with these and with the prevailing energies of the five elements, yin and yang, and the seasons.  Clare filmed the readings of five Westerners.  Using two Chinese interpreters to translate the readings into English, the resultant video work fundamentally references popular culture and its struggle with cultural hegemony while also exploring the spirit of language and the transformation of meaning through translation.

Also included are three short video works each exploring the marginal position of the immigrant in society.  ‘Cure His Heart’, filmed in Vienna in 2004 depicts a particular moment in the life of a Palestinian student.  A migrant for reasons of education, the student becomes a rather affected subject when seen sitting in the main plaza of Vienna with his fellow countrymen as a backdrop.  ‘Another Day In My Kingdom’ offers a highly aware observation upon the apparent banality of a traditional Norwegian clothes shop in Trondheim, Norway.   ‘Matrix State’, filmed in Hong Kong in October 2004, offers an insight into the social rituals of the city’s Filipina workers as they gather in a kindred spirit.

Clare’s practice moves from observation and speculation to direct intervention.  ‘An answer to a problem, Volume 1’ consists of a wall drawing of a map of Eribil, a city in Northern Iraq.  Accompanying the drawing is a hard-back book listing all the United Nations’ resolutions passed on Iraq since the end of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.   The book documents the legal destruction of the infrastructure of an entire country and the deaths of over one million innocent civilians in what was described by one UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator as genocide.  

The final work for the exhibition, a framed and mounted postcard, documents an intervention project undertaken between Clare, under the auspices of the Potlatch Foundation, and Bob May, an International aid worker in Palestine randomly contacted through the internet.  Clare asked May to represent his daily routine with a disposable camera posted out to him.   Upon return of the film an image was chosen and made into a postcard that in a direct action by Clare was sent to over one hundred companies registered on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in Israel.  The purpose being to solicit donations to fund other visual arts projects by the Foundation; to date no contributions have been received.

Mark Clare was educated at University of Ulster, MFA  (2004) and St. Martin’s College of Art and Design, BFA (1992).   He has exhibited in Norway, Belgrade, Slovenia, China and Japan amongst others.  Clare is one of the twenty-seven artists in ‘Eurojets 05’ at the RHA and is currently working towards a solo exhibition with the Context Gallery, Belfast (2006).

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