This unique edition of ‘aemi online’ offers a snapshot of new moving image work from graduating film and media artists whose practices merit further exposure, especially given the reduction of traditional public degree shows that in usual circumstances take place right across the country at the end of the academic year. This ‘aemi online’ showcase – of work by five artists graduating from NCAD’s BFA in Media – leads on from a discursive event with NCAD students about their work that aemi was grateful to be a part of earlier in the summer. The five works selected to screen on ‘aemi online’ stood out as particularly well suited to the specific demands of an online exhibition platform. Over the next ten weeks, a rolling showcase will take place here on this webpage with a new film work taking over from the last on a biweekly basis. Accompanying the films is a commissioned text by artist, art historian and NCAD graduate Frank Wasser who identifies the tensions explored by these artists between notions of representation, concealment and fabrication.

NCAD Graduate Showcase 2021 screening schedule

Tess Treacy, Amalgam (1 – 14 September)
Sofia Rudi, May the peacock have its call and dance (screening now until 28 September)
Francis O’Mahony, Nettle Bush (29 September – 12 October)
Jonathan O’Grady, Invocation (13 – 26 October)
Dan Shanahan, Zero / Point (27 October – 9 November)

Introductory text by Frank Wasser

Throughout watching this selection of moving image works by recent graduates from art school in Dublin, I am reminded that there is an uneasiness that underpins much of modernity and its terrible histories.During the second half of 1915, the widely misunderstood but well celebrated avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich worked intensively and prolifically to develop his ideas, painting new canvases and writing, as he attempted to define a movement which would forge a western vernacular of abstraction and modernism that persists (and is sustained) to this day. He launched Suprematism, and painted his infamous Black Square. One hundred years later, researchers at Russia’s State Tretyakov Gallery viewing the cracking and deteriorating painting through a microscope discovered a handwritten inscription which they believe reads as a racist joke popularised by the French writer and humourist Alphonse Allais. Despite the discovery being well publicised, it is a revelation which has been widely ignored by the major institutions of the art world. That the most iconic image of the impetus of ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ art has within it, a concealed racist joke is a troubling fact which lays bare not even the most potent urgency for decolonisation and a re-write of histories and abolition of institutions. Images are not always as they seem or as it turns out, do not seem.

Dan Shanahan’s Zero/Point (2021) takes Black Square and the unintended censoring of live Black Lives Matter protests by the Black Out Tuesday social media campaign as its point zero. Originally the piece was intended to mimic Malevich’s exhibition layout by being placed in the top corner of a spatial installation, now, it is reconfigured for the screen of a computer, laptop or phone. In lieu of the cracking surface of a painting, the viewer is confronted with a Black Mirror, the ominous reflection that peers back at an individual from an ostensibly blank screen.

Tensions between fixed ideas, representations, concealment and revelation, fabrication and the organic are explored, explicated, exasperated and complicated further throughout all the works. Tess Treacy’s Amalgam starts with a macro view not of Ireland from space, but of a computer-generated image of Ireland from space via Google Earth. The viewer is dragged into an image of the world which psychedelically oscillates between the familiar and formidably unfamiliar. There is no stable surface beneath the pixelated waves and cracks which appear at times never ending. Treacy entangles performance, moving image, Generative Adversarial Networks, photogrammetry, and 3D videography in such a manner that reveals the constant negotiation of the posthuman, so called ‘natural’ and human-orientated world we find ourselves living within.

The contradictions (commonly referred to as conventions) of the museum are laid bare in Sofia Rudi’s May the peacock have its call and dance. The focus of the piece is a stolen object from Burma, a reclining Burmese Buddha that is situated in Collins Barracks, Dublin. In Joyce’s Ulysses, Leopold Bloom brings Molly to see the piece, mansplaining her on the popularity of Buddhism in Asia. But his knowledge of East Asian culture is noticeably slight, and the significance of the statue is eventually lost on him. Here, rendered an object out of context, other worldly, analysed as a body of sorts, a way to position the violence of colonialism and yet again the enduring impossibility of representation. This moving image as object has no gaze.

Francis O’Mahony’s Nettle Bush presents cropped moments of another gaze, the intimate lens of a camera falling on the recognisable detritus of a domestic environment, images of the outside world from inside and the inside world from outside. A narrator whose voice is supported by the prop of an atonal melody, weaves a generous diaristic text which positions identity and gender. Constructions of the maker, and by proximity the viewer, take centre stage.

In Invocation by Jonathan O’Grady, the viewer is confronted with images of industrial residue interspliced by flashing colours that fill the darkened room I viewed the work in with large blocks of colour. An exploration of queer pasts, landscape and mythology takes place in the screen which powerfully transcends into the viewing context. The room I view this work in, is filled with silence and light, albeit there is something deafening evoked by the pairing of the images in Invocation; overgrown grass, a quarry or demolished site with no audio. Images of rubble are transformed into memories contained and remembered by things that can’t remember.

The slippery fluidity and unreliability of images are consistently exposed and examined by this group of artists. What transcends through the cuts, the edit, are bodies of images that pertain to political frameworks which imbue affect and hopefully an empathy beyond the clinical seamless cracking cannon of modernism. These images will stay with the viewer, haunting the meanings and memories they have yet to make.

This unique edition of ‘aemi online’ offers a snapshot of new moving image work from graduating film and media artists whose practices merit further exposure, especially given the reduction of traditional public degree shows that in usual circumstances take place right across the country at the end of the academic year. This ‘aemi online’ showcase – of work by five artists graduating from NCAD’s BFA in Media – leads on from a discursive event with NCAD students about their work that aemi was grateful to be a part of earlier in the summer. The five works selected to screen on ‘aemi online’ stood out as particularly well suited to the specific demands of an online exhibition platform. Over the next ten weeks, a rolling showcase will take place here on this webpage with a new film work taking over from the last on a biweekly basis. Accompanying the films is a commissioned text by artist, art historian and NCAD graduate Frank Wasser who identifies the tensions explored by these artists between notions of representation, concealment and fabrication.

NCAD Graduate Showcase 2021 screening schedule

Tess Treacy, Amalgam (1 – 14 September)
Sofia Rudi, May the peacock have its call and dance (screening now until 28 September)
Francis O’Mahony, Nettle Bush (29 September – 12 October)
Jonathan O’Grady, Invocation (13 – 26 October)
Dan Shanahan, Zero / Point (27 October – 9 November)

NCAD Graduate Showcase 2021 | Sofia Rudi, May the peacock have its call and dance, 2021, 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Screening: 15 - 28 September 2021

Additional Information

Sofia Rudi
Sofia Rudi Kent is a practicing artist and researcher. Her work is a piece of institutional critique, utilising 3D modelling and archival research to investigate the paradigms and archaic conventions of the museum world. She looks to the past to uncover the issues behind the current retention of plundered artefacts and their imperial histories. In particular, she explores the ethics of ownership, as the ghosts of colonialism continue to haunt modernity. The marriage of technology and art motivates her everyday process and practice. Through the use of archives, historical records and online resources, she uncovers the amnesia of the colonialist cycle that so informed Ireland’s past.

This video focuses on a Reclining Burmese Buddha that lives in Collins Barracks, Dublin. It is a piece of imperial loot that was taken from Burma by Colonel Sir Charles Fitzgerald, an Irishman. It was stolen while on a military campaign to Burma in 1885–6. It was designed in the Mandalay style, which dates to 1857–86. It was sent to the National Museum in 1891, along with other looted Burmese statues. The title refers to a poem written by Thakin Kodaw Hmaing who is considered one of the greatest Burmese poets. The dancing peacock was strongly associated with anti-colonial nationalist movements. The video contains images taken from Charles Fitzgeralds diary while on his campaign in Burma. I obtained these through The Ames Library of South Asia in Minnesota.

I wanted to play with aspects of Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network-Theory within the framing of material objects that similarly exert agency to humans. ANT’s main feature is its focus on inanimate entities and their effect on social processes.
Narrative written by Sofia Rudi Kent, audio by Paddy Hennessy. Footage rendered on Unreal Engine. IG @sofiadaniela_

Frank Wasser
Frank Wasser is an artist and writer from the Liberties, Dublin currently based in London. Wasser works in writing, sculpture, performance and moving image. Wasser has exhibited nationally and internationally, recent and upcoming projects include : SLIP a novel (MA BIBLIOTHÈQUE) (2022), FIX 2021: Performance Art Festival (Catalyst Arts, Belfast October 2021). Wasser has written for Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet and Art Monthly. Wasser is a doctorate researcher at the University of Oxford and a recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland Agility Award 2021
www.frankwasser.info