Mary Fitzpatrick: Failaka , in Streets of Desire at Jump Ship Rat, the Blade Factory, 3rd Liverpool Biennial Independent, 18 September to 24 November 2004
This work was completed over a three-year period. Failaka is an island in the Arabian Sea that was left abandoned after the first Gulf War in 1991 and it has remained so since. The project looks at domestic scenes, schools, the bank, discarded military hardware, clothing, and children’s paintings left in the art room of one of the schools. Many of the paintings depict war and were therefore the last paintings completed before the inhabitants fled.
One is confronted by Fitzpatrick’s work in a disused Blade Factory in Liverpool’s new Independent District in Greenland Street. The exhibition brings together an international gathering of artists from Columbia, France and England, and it focuses on the themes of war, power and resources.
Fitzpatrick’s work is housed on the ground floor of this austere, atmospheric space. The work has a powerful presence, the walls of this industrial space complementing the abandoned interiors, scraps of clothing and discarded personal ephemera within the images. The photographs constitute a type of domestic anthropology, as if documenting the scene of a crime (cf. Walter Benjamin). Clothing becomes part of the land when squashed flat, part of the fabric of that society; the clothing of a ripped-apart cloth doll symbolises sensitivity in the face of cold military hardware. Single bullet theory depicts a pierced tank, multilayered with a history of its own. But the doll becomes the focal point of this powerful exhibition, as symbolic reminder of the painful cost of war.
Laurence Cassidy is an artist and lecturer based in England.
Streets of Desire (Liverpool Biennial Independent exhibition), 18 September – 24 November 2004
Mary Fitzpatrick’s work can be found at www.maryfitzpatrick.co.uk .