A new programme of short films selected by artist Isabel Nolan
Sometimes, as an artist, it’s awful to be asked what you did on a given day. You’re confronted by the vagueness or absurdity of describing time spent trying fairly idiosyncratic stuff out to see if it works. Some of these films record odd, gloriously impractical actions; some are set in functional spaces; some feature familiar objects activated in peculiar ways; occasionally dogs are involved. There is watching and dancing. On good days I believe art is a beautifully inconvenient way to love a difficult world. – Isabel Nolan
Curated by artist Isabel Nolan for aemi and coinciding with ‘Spaced Out’, Nolan’s exhibition of new rugs and paintings at Kerlin Gallery, ‘So, what did you do today’ is a programme of short films that illuminates aspects of Nolan’s work in drawing, sculpture, tapestry and the moving image.
Marijke van Warmerdam, Hands Free, 2004, NL, 2 minutes, 18 minutes
Maria Lassnig, Chairs, 1971, AT, 1 minute, 55 seconds
Liliane Lijn, Factory Snaps, 1970, USA, 3 minutes 40 seconds
Daria Martin, Soft Materials, 2004, USA, 10 minutes 30 seconds
Anita Delaney, Well, 2020, UK, 1 minute 28 seconds
Joan Jonas, My New Theater V: Moving in Place (Dog Dance), 2002 – 2005, USA, 6 minutes 11 seconds
Miranda Pennell, You made me love you, 2005, UK, 4 minutes
Robot (John Miller and Takuji Kogo), Look 49, 2012, USA/ Japan, 1 minute 58 seconds
Marijke van Warmerdam, The Big Memory, 2008, NL, 22 seconds
Liliane Lijn, Caution Matter, 2012, USA, 15 minutes 30 seconds
Kunstinstituut Melly, Paul Thek ‘The Wonderful World that Almost Was’, 1995, USA, 14 minutes 16 seconds
Michael Rudnick, Pup y Pup, 1977, USA, c. 3 minutes, restoration courtesy of the the Academy Film Archive
Anita Delaney, Crème, 2021, UK, 51 seconds
Jem Cohen, Anne Truitt, Working, 2009, USA, 12 minutes 51 seconds
Jack Smith, Scotch Tape, 1959 – 1962, USA, 3 minutes 5 seconds
Running time 85 minutes
Isabel Nolan has an expansive practice that incorporates sculptures, paintings, textile works, photographs, writing and works on paper. Her subject matter is similarly comprehensive, taking in cosmological phenomena, religious reliquaries, Greco-Roman sculptures and literary/historical figures, examining the behaviour of humans and animals alike. These diverse artistic investigations are driven by intensive research, but the end result is always deeply personal and subjective. Exploring the “intimacy of materiality”, Nolan’s work ranges from the architectural – steel sculptures that frame or obstruct our path – to small handmade objects in clay, hand-tufted wool rugs illuminated with striking cosmic imagery, to drawings and paintings using humble gouache or colouring pencils. In concert, they feel equally enchanted by and afraid of the world around us, expressing humanity’s fear of mortality and deep need for connection as well as its startling achievements in art and thought. Driven by “the calamity, the weirdness, horror, brevity and wonder of existing alongside billions of other preoccupied humans”, her works give generous form to fundamental questions about the ways the chaos of the world is made beautiful or given meaning through human activity.
Isabel Nolan was born in 1974 in Dublin, Ireland. Recent shows include ‘A delicate bond which is also a gap’, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (2021); ‘The air between things’, two-person exhibition with Stephen McKenna, OCT Boxes Art Museum, Shunde, China (2019); ‘Ein Fuß in der Welt / One Foot in the World’, Kunstverein Langenhagen, Germany (2018); ‘Another View from Nowhen’, London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, UK (2017–18); ‘Curling up with reality’, Grazer Kunstverein, Austria (2017–2018); ‘Calling on Gravity’, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland (2017); ‘The weakened eye of day’, Mercer Union, Toronto and CAG, Vancouver (both Canada, 2016) and Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2014) and ‘A hole into the future’, Musée d’art moderne de Saint Etienne, France (2012).
Nolan is represented by Kerlin Gallery, Ireland. In late 2020, Launchpad and Kerlin Gallery published ‘Curling up with reality’, bringing together a decade of Nolan’s work including significant exhibitions and 20 of the artist’s writings. Her solo exhibition ‘Spaced Out’ continues at Kerlin Gallery until 15th January 2022.