Monday, October 08, 2012

Alice Maher: Becoming at IMMA

Silly Hedge 
This exhibition is termed a mid-career retrospective. A description that seems a tad presumptuous about mortality and longevity. In fact on meeting Ms. Maher on the way in I was struck by how fragile and unwell she looked.  The lighting throughout was turned way down rendering moot the labels for each piece. Unless of course you had downloaded the iPhone flashlight app - as I had. It also caused some clumsy blundering about in the darkened warren of rooms.  I'm sure it was planned as part of the overall experience but I'm not sure it worked too well.  I also expect many social plans got disrupted as people failed to find each other in the murk.

But heigh-ho on to the work.  Alice Maher is as avant garde as we get in Ireland.  She specialises in shock and awe and is rarely less than interesting.  I've no doubt many of her pieces are based on esoteric theories from Gaston Bachelard and others but these references are lost on me. I just submerge myself in the visual abundance:  An elegant confection of snail shells, a necklace of sheep tongues, a large ball of brambles filling a cell-like room, etched ostrich eggs as precious as FabergĂ©, lots of hair, and a damn silly hedge that I nearly fell over. My favourite pieces were the video animations - there were three of them, two going simultaneously on opposite walls of one room - why I don't know.  Initially I tried to watch them like a tennis match but it was too much for me, so I just watched them both separately.  They were all very sexual with a lot of violence thrown in, especially decapitations.  A Freudian analyst would have had a field day.  Disturbed and disturbing - absorbing stuff.

Overall it was good fun but bring a torch and arrange to meet your date outside.