Chris Hayes: Julie Weber
Julie Weber’s installation Nutjob, at the NCAD degree show, brings an immense amount of energy, personality and humour to the important subject of production and identity in contemporary society. Weber’s installation consists of a mock factory set-up and two video pieces, as well as multiple paraphernalia that relate to both, such as the uniforms and nuts.
In the factory, monkey nuts fall through a shute at one end, they’re then hand churned as they move along a conveyer belt, and come out the other side to be packaged. In the first video piece an identical character is seen across three screens, each time attempting to catch a floating nut, and on the other side, the character is green-screened onto a strange, crude cartoon MS Paint drawing of this factory. Workplace becomes stage in this theatre of production and artifice. Portrayed through a palette of garish cartoon colours, and a performative use of green-screen and CGI, the desperate optimism of the characters in these videos presents a portrait of desire, and its relationship to identity, that evokes social questions behind economics.
The place of products and the politics of production are active areas of investigation within contemporary art. Weber’s practice sits somewhere in between a discourse about products as demonstrated by Simon Denny or the DIS collective’s curation of the Berlin Biennale in 2016 – notable for its use of advertising techniques and corporate visual identities – and the storytelling style of Rachel Maclean, which is made possible from the manipulation, distortion and exaggeration digital software offers. Yet Weber has developed a strong and distinctive aesthetic. There’s an idiosyncrasy that creates a carnivalesque atmosphere, allowing the meaning of this factory to grow into something much more than just becoming a metaphor for the Utopian promise of consumerism.