Michael Snow, The Viewing of Six New Works at the Butler Gallery
Offset by richly coloured, carefully chosen, arbitrary monochrome geometries, Michael Snow’s ‘The Viewing of Six New Works’ acts within the international realm of video art and installation practices as an avant-garde welcome pack, examining, in the context of viewing rectangular wall-mounted artworks, the nature of visual perception.
Focusing our attention on how the human eye interacts with wall-mounted artworks, we were invited to contemplate how such interactions revolve around limits and boundaries, which, in the context of the work’s public presentation, involved a gallery in the basement of a medieval Irish castle built at a strategic fording-point of the River Nore.
As a symbol of military occupation and a major tourist attraction housing a vibrant contemporary art gallery, Kilkenny Castle combines an obsolete form of fortification with a site of communal recreation and edification, a conjunction of indomitable pre-eminence and ballsy belligerence.
Such ancillary layers extend and enhance the experience of wading through the choppy waters of ocular functionality. Waist deep in such waters, the turbulent undercurrents of Irish history take on a tantalising, scrotum-tightening proximity.
Pinned to the gallery walls the projected iterations move as a besieged populace before a marauding horde, enacting abstract rituals of oppression and coercion, expulsion and dispossession, integration and assimilation.
To view such an artwork in the basement of a castle is to immerse oneself in a dissolving dichotomy, to observe the way dehumanised forms navigate, individually and collectively, the ocular straits of a vivacious incarceration.