Walker and Walker, Nowhere without no(w), IMMA.

On the surface this looks like another well-heeled exhibition. The artists, twin brothers, are technically well resourced, but thankfully they have chosen to walk off the hangover of their advantages in the company of various poetic, literary and art historical guiding lights. They are clearing their heads and reaching for the stars.

There are lightbulb moments in Walker and Walker’s Nowhere without no(w), but they’re moments when the lightbulb goes off rather than on. The celestial darkness is invigorating.

Highlights include the stuffed owl in The Owl of Minerva spreads its wings with the falling of the dusk (2012), a pearl hollowed out as the title tells us In an effort to uncover its origin and/or in the process compromising it (2019), and a film (based on René Daumal’s unfinished novel Mount Analogue) Mount Analogue revisited (2010), the pivot point of the show, which traces the boundaries between spiritual aspiration and the ambiguities of its fulfilment.

These are not artworks gouged bare-handed from the cliff face of creativity. They are strategic depth charges, which mount and amount to an exhilarating climax, with that sense of dislocating release you get when leaving the cinema after seeing a film that has transported you out of yourself, and your head swims in daylight.

To recall something lost is to conjure simultaneously its presence and its absence. The reality of its unreality is made apparent through an evocative, melancholy longing. As you progress through the exhibition, a series of offcuts and outtakes nudges you slowly to a state of incompletion. Frayed edges accumulate in your mind until you realise it is you who is being picked apart.

Nowhere without no(w)’s material fulfilment fixes the boundaries of our internal contradictions and offers us as an aspiration the preserved remains of our spiritual bereavement.

In Void (2015), a written statement informs us that “The following message ‘zero’ in numerical form was sent into Deep Space by Walker & Walker on 16th May 2015, Arrival: Unknown”. In Thwarted Kiss (2019), two small magnetic orbs attempt to connect on either side of a pane of glass, inside and outside, trying to consummate their longing for one another. Logic and rationality underpin these sacrificial place-holders, revealing the shadowy outlines of what lies beyond the toxic eyewash and corrosive eye candy of digital mediation, with no guarantee that it’s not something equally or more toxically corrosive, but worth the risk nonetheless.

It is perhaps a pity that the solidity of our deficits and deprivations must be made to melt into the air of art, from the sanctuary of which they taunt us with the promise of release, of spreading our wings with the falling of the dusk.

In the search for that crepuscular release, the vernacular grit of solitude’s eternal return – the return of the oppressed and the repressed, the void in a materialised void – whistles through the diastemata of a thwarted kiss and a hollow pearl’s requited incompletion.

Written by Benjamin Robinson (a.k.a. Cac O’Day)

Benjamin Robinson was born in Northern Ireland in 1964 and currently lives in Dublin. He is the creator of The Institute of Real Art.

Writer links: The Institute of Real Art

Walker and Walker, Nowhere without no(w), IMMA, 15 February – 3 June 2019.