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Catalyst Arts presents:

Catalyst Commissions

Aideen Doran | Ryan Moffett

1st – 8th June

‘Catalyst Commissions’ brings together two artists, Aideen Doran and Ryan Moffett, who were selected to develop new work over a three month and one year period, respectively, with support from the board of directors at Catalyst Arts. This exhibition is the culmination of a research and development period for both artists with new lens based works presented in the gallery.

In his practice Belfast based artist Ryan Moffett explores the topics of representation, authenticity and fiction. Creating fictional narratives influenced by factual events, he explores the perceived ‘truths’ held within research rich spaces, such as documentary practice, museums, national geographic magazines, anthropological texts, and zoological gardens. After finishing a photographic project in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Catalyst Arts approached Moffett to propose undertaking a residency with an organisation that does not offer residency programmes. For the residency Moffett wanted to develop a photographic process inspired by the dioramas he had studied in New York. In order to do this he required free access to a large, wild estate where he could photograph landscapes and collect material, as well as access to a space to set up a photographic studio on site. After exploring several avenues we discovered Benburb Priory, currently a priory and conference centre run by the Servite Order, which proved ideal and very accommodating, and we would like to warmly thank the staff at Benburb Priory for being such hospitable and enthusiastic hosts. This beautiful, rambling estate is populated by an unusual array of characters, spaces and animals: from ex-convicts managing the forest to a handful of remaining clergy; from a dilapidated tree house perched high atop a solitary oak, overlooking woodland and rivers to the Victorian bridge and abandoned factory, now mostly reclaimed by nature; and two worryingly forward, yet luckily ancient Saint Bernards, who roam with menacing abandon. This output from the residency Artist Abroad marks the beginning of a process which was developed in Benburb. The work is composed using photographs and materials collected from the landscape, and the visual approach collages both document and imagination.

Glasgow based artist Aideen Doran was selected as part of a Members open call for a new artist moving image commission in partnership with FLATPACK, Birmingham, 2017. Doran presented a new work entitled ‘The Mechanical Child’ which premiered as part of ‘On the Edge’ screening event at FLATPACK. This new work of Doran emerges from the artist’s research into the nature of consciousness, exploring the possibilities for new kinds of empathy and exchange between human and non-human minds. It draws upon the 20th century psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim’s case study of ‘Joey, A Mechanical Boy’, published in his (since discredited) book The Empty Fortress. Bettelheim theorised that not only were neurological conditions such as autism were caused by inattentive, uncaring parents (Refrigerator Moms) but also that the unique sensory and affective characteristics of autism-spectrum disorders could be cured with Freudian psychoanalytic techniques, a theory that caused untold damage to the lives of autistic children and their families. In his case study of the mechanical boy, ‘Joey’ suffered under a delusion that he was part machine, a hybrid creature of electricity and flesh and identified more with the inert objects of technology than with other children. Bettelheim attempts to coax the little boy out of his fantasy by reinvigorating his empathetic responses to the world of humans.This highly problematic case study becomes a point from which to explore the uncanny, unsettling – yet also potentially emancipatory – new possibilities for mind and body in a world of vibrant matter.


Catalyst Commissions | 2017 | 2017, Archive | Comments (0)

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