Micheál Rowsome @foxyrobber Instagram
I was in Tate Modern at the opening weekend of the new building, and stood there in the middle of All The Art and All The People, showing my friends your Instagram feed. You have a really interesting Instagram account with posts of funny things, pretty things and thoughtful things. You have lots of photos of clouds, and the cloud photo I was showing my friends was the one you took when your mother woke you up at 5am, terrified. She was looking for her mother, who had passed away four years previously, and you both went outside for a walk and let nature transport you away from it all. You wrote a piece about what you were both going through, with the hashtags #nature #healing #escapism #hope #dementia #sky.
I also showed them some of your singing videos. They had the same WTF reaction I had when I first saw them, and then wanted to watch some more just like I did when I first watched them. The posts have evolved since then to incorporate dance and facial contortions, and there is an amazing one with a purple smoothie leaking out of your mouth. Sometimes you can be claustrophobically close, your face right up to the screen, like you are pressed into a little box. Other times you are flying about your kitchen. I feel a little voyeuristic in staring into your life, but then you stare right back at me, into mine, into me.
Luckily there are cloud photos in between videos to break it up.
Dear Micheál Rowsome,
When I first looked at your Instagram account I wasn’t sure what to make of it, or how to look at it (maybe I mean judge it, is it an art work or a notebook full of interesting thoughts etc.?). I spoke to my friend Bee who had recommended that we (Sociable NonScience) should write a love or hate letter to you about it.
To be clear this is a love letter.
From my perspective your Instagram feed feels like an artwork on its own terms, whether you mean for it to be or not. Maybe defining it as an artwork is only important to me?
Setting that aside, I really liked the honesty and sincerity of the images and videos you post. I was going to say naivety but that’s not it at all. It feels like you’ve made a conscious choice not to fit into a genre or idea of what’s cool or not. For me that’s a massive positive.
I love that you post images of the sky at different times / places. I especially like the videos of you dancing in your kitchen, they have an infectious sense of joy and you sharing it with us is really generous. More personally they remind me of the aforementioned Bee. She chooses houses to live in based on the kitchen’s capacity for dancing.
A recurring theme that I keep coming back to is a need for self-care, by which I mean not only looking after ourselves but each other in the same way that trees all work together, sharing root systems etc. for the good of the forest as a whole. It feels like you’ve taken a social media platform like Instagram, so often a place for showing off, and made it a place for sharing something really positive, something that all these social media sites profess to be but are often not. I could write an essay about this, but I’m sure someone else already has so I’m going to leave it at that.
Thanks, I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you post next,
Sociable NonScience are Jan Uprichard, Sinead Conlon and Bernardine Carroll, three artists based in various spots around Ireland and the U.K. They formed this collective, creating work that would be experienced through the lens of their friendship and friendship in general, among other things.
@foxyrobber is the Instagram account of Micheál Rowsome