Doreen Kennedy: Revisit, ADF Gallery, Belfast, June-July 2013
Sonia Falcone presents a variation of a grid, I think of as a soft grid. A grid became an ubiquitous device of the 20th C visual art, it usually tessellated rectangular elements, like in the “Tate’s bricks” below:
Whether a pattern tessellates or not depends on the outline of the repeated element. If it does not, the outcome is a softer grid with gaps for spontaneous events. Rectangles easily tesselate, for example in Carl Andre’s floor sculptures.
In her contribution to the 55th Venice Biennale Sonia Falcone created a soft grid with circular vessels holding powder material in different colours. I hesitate to read it as gender-based preference in the light of hegemony of powder in A. Kapoor’s illusions of space and organic shapes of spices in textile by Ernesto Netto. Especially, as another female artist explores soft grids using a rectangle as a building element.
Doreen Kennedy places multiples of an unit (rectangular photographic print) leaving gaps between each, a motif she observed in nature and photographed for her earlier exhibition.
‘Flower Bed’ is a photography-based art installation. It is made up of approximately 600 photographic prints of flowers, mounted back to back. Each set of prints are placed overlapping to make up a rectangular shape. The recreation of an artificial photography-based in a public space aims to surprise the viewer. It looks at the everyday action viewing of flowers / plant life in a public park over repeated visits … Flower Bed was previously installed as part of Sculpture in Context at National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin September 2009 and at: Celestial Salt, The Good Hatchery, Daingean, Co. Offaly. November/December 2009. A selection of images from Flower Bed were exhibited at the 1st Alliance Francaise Photography Award Exhibition April/May 2011.’
She also installed it at the Art in Odd Places Festival in New York, October,2011.
The pattern of flowers creating a greater form, like a crown of the tree, has been a subject of Kennedy’s series of photographic prints Mono No Aware, 2010.
At the same time, the artist became motivated by her love of “libraries”.
The Portrait of a Library has been a part of her Belfast exhibition as a “document of the content of a library”. The project started in August 2010 at the public library in Dalkey, Co. Dublin. She reflected afterwards:
‘Across several visits I made over a thousand photographs’ (www.doreenkennedy.com)
Although the books are recognizable parts, the rhythm of the squares of a grid takes over, and the clusters of similar hues impose an order, unrelated to her attention to ‘worn book covers, broken spines, creased pages and intriguing date stamps'(ibidem). I hasten to add that the discrepancy between her intention and final outcome does not weaken the visual power of her innovative application of an old tool. On the contrary, the untamed variations on a book form emanate the aesthetic power of order (the squares) and viewpoints of a book, only sparingly repeated. The coloured clusters take over in a flow reminiscent of dreams or incomplete memory.
Kennedy’s talent to revitalise an older paradigm brings charming results, that do not flirt with a shallow prettiness. I have in mind two of the exhibits in Belfast based on The Sea Bed, Killiney Beach, 2012
Installed indoors they have not lost their intimate link to Richard Long’s Land Art
However, Kennedy instilled man-made perishable objects with the transformatory powers that Long charged the stones with. The difference is significant, as if she revisited and challenged the equation between art and immortality in a dignified acceptance of the absence of a convincing answer to our significance in the universe.