Opening February 7th, Green on Red Gallery will present an exhibition of new photographs by Gerard Byrne. This will be Byrne's second one-person exhibition at the gallery. Byrne was still resident in New York in September 2000 when the gallery hosted Theatre Bunker Archives Reception Area. The artist was completing a long stint in the US following a series of awards that he received, including The Fulbright Scholarship, PS1 award and a studio on the Whitney Programme. Theatre Bunker Archives Reception Area consisted mostly of night-time shots of transient street-front interiors in New York City.
By contrast, Byrne shifts his focus in this exhibition to the out of doors, in broad daylight and plays on the viewers' perception and imagination in a very different way drawing on the role of myth today. The following are newspaper reports from Loch Ness, circa 1934:
"...a long hump gradually surfaced and moved slowly in the water before disappearing. It was described as being about 18 feet long, and 2 feet in diameter, with a brown, smooth skin.
...[ I ]saw a reddish-brown hump, similar to an upturned boat, appear about one mile from their position. There was a great deal of splashing in the water around the object..."
As Bertold Brecht says
"...less then ever does the mere reflection of reality reveal anything about reality. A photograph of the Krupp works or the AEG tells us next to nothing about these institutions"
( Quoted in Walter Benjamin, Little History of Photography, 1931. )
Eye witnesses stand around after an accident, a stage set for "Twelve Angry Men", Loch Ness, another lake, this time in Wicklow, a view of the Guinness brewery...
Byrne's new project consists of a diverse sequence photographs, which he intends to continuously re-edit on each occasion they are shown. The sequence of photographs have a sprawling and sometimes obscurely multi-leveled network of inter-connections. Some are linked through geography, some through genre, others still through ownership. Underlying the whole sequence is an attempt through photography, to explain something of photography itself, of what it's role is in contemporary culture. In pursuing this line, Byrne returns in several of
his photographs to archetypal moments in the historical development of photography. There are for example several images of Loch Ness, Scotland. Byrne's interest in Loch Ness derives from it's peculiar history as a media phenomenon; a collective fantasy about primeval predators in modern times. Byrne's images of the lake speak little of the history of the media phenomenon that surrounds it, although several photographs seem to include suggestions of those more notorious images of the lake already published. Like each of the photographs in this exhibition, they seem to invite viewers to test their previous knowledge of the subject against its photographic presentation. Indeed each of Byrne's images seems to engage viewers in a complex dialogue between knowledge and image, between one photograph and the next, and between the journalistic and the poetic.
Gerard Byrne will give a talk on his new work on Friday 15th February at 1.15pm.