Curators Notes, Patrick T. Murphy, RHA Director:
There are some works of art that abide with you, not as a vivid presence, but like a half-remembered taste. A snippet of music, the tone of a novel, the general colour mood of a painting. Orla McHardy’s exhibition has remained with me over the past year in such a form.
When I first became acquainted with the artist and her work it was around 2012, she was working in animation and video creating short films about the compelling nature of ordinary things transferred to new contexts. In or around 2104, we agreed to make an exhibition of her work for the RHA. Then circumstances began to change – she moved from Ireland to the USA to take up a teaching job in VCU art college in Richmond, Virginia. The show underwent about two deferrals and when we stopped the music and agreed on January 2019, there were two children in the house, both under two.
Nitefeedz is an exhibition about the new-born’s complete dependency and how that pulls and thwarts the creative direction of an artist mother. It probes those dark quiet hours when the phantasmagorical and the hyper-real can abide in the same moment.
A time during a feed when the imagination and the exhaustion can combine to press ambitions that there is no time to realise. McHardy creates assemblages of found and self-made objects placed together to yield dynamic associations. The work requires attention, parsing the components to decipher the meaning or the mood. For example, Untitled (image no. 36) image below consists of a few burst white balloons, a broken glass vessel and a pumice stone. White balloons associated with occasions of celebration particularly of weddings and births, the vessel traditionally associated with the womb, and pumice that volcanic stone known for its abrasive properties. Whatever you might glean from this material haiku, for me it points to a bleak predicament.
The exhibition was shown in subdued light some of its illumination depending on the half-concealed spill from a TV screen. Like those beacons of the middle of the night, the fridge light, the tv, the digital display the whole exhibition evoked the drama of the domestic and the maternal as they manifest in the early hours.
Working through expanded animation, video and sculptural installation, Nitefeedz, new work by Orla McHardy showing in the RHA Brown and O’hUiginn Galleries, looks at where value is placed on the interrupted time of caregiving and reproductive labour.
Nitefeedz poses the question as to whether a new, formal language could be created for the time-intensive medium of animation, at a moment when there’s less time because of the issue being interrogated. Born out of what Professor Lisa Baraitser, Professor of Psychosocial Theory, Birkbeck University of London, identifies in her book Maternal Encounters, An Ethic of Interruption, as “constant interruptions to thinking, reflecting, sleeping, moving and completing tasks […], what is left is a series of unconnected experiences that remain fundamentally unable to cohere.” Taking these interruptions as generative, McHardys’ work looks to connect the provisional gesture to acts of provisioning and care.
19 January, 1pm: Exhibition Walk through, Orla McHardy, Nitefeedz with RHA Director, Patrick T. Murphy.