Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
‘What is art?’ was perhaps first asked when Dadaist icon Marcel Duchamp turned a urinal into art by putting it on a pedestal. Today, definitions of art have expanded such that there is a second question: ‘What is an artist?’
The exhibition notes for Mark Clare’s five-year retrospective, ‘I Believe in You’ at the Crawford Art Galler, in Cor, tell us that he is a “creative public agent”. While this might be hyperbole, this show is essential viewing, and is beautifully realised across all three floors of the gallery.
Clare has a real skill for exploring ideas and themes that cause the viewer to think deeply. Using photography, video and sculptural installation, the artwork is carefully nuanced and is an assault on the senses as well as on the intellect.
Start with the installation, ‘For All Mankind’, which comprises an array of foil dishes that slowly rotate using kitchen timers. The ticking sound builds and merges with other, nearby works, including the mesmerising animation piece, ‘DemocraCity’, which utilises a heart-wrenching soundtrack by Avro Part. On the first floor, ‘MonoCulture’ is made up of copper pipes. These are arranged into a maze that surrounds a pseudo-beehive that periodically extrudes steam. All these facets seem to link together, and encourage you to revisit the works several times over.
Many of the pieces creep up on you and lodge in the psyche.
Clare has mapped out visual puzzles that cleverly make the viewer feel part of the exhibition by inviting interaction and personal interpretations.
Even the simplest of interventions, such as slide images of branches in a forest, which have been pared to point with a pencil sharpener, confirm this is conceptual art of real substance.
Until November 1
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