Gavin Murphy: Sketches for a light/ heavy monument, Four Gallery, November – December 2006







Gavin Murphy: Monument
Gavin Murphy: Sketches for a light / heavy monument, 2006 courtesy the artist

Gavin Murphy's recent solo exhibition featured a photographic print and sculpture at Four on Burgh Quay, accompanied off-site by two video pieces shown at the National College of Ireland and Filmbase. Placed at the entrance to Four, the photo print presents a grid of small, apparently moment-by-moment shots capturing in Muybridge fashion the sun passing behind a tree. Upstairs, a large ziggurat-like structure, made of folded and bound newspapers supporting several fluorescent lights, sits beneath a strobe light and a small hanging box depicting the year 2006 in lit-up Roman numerals.








Gavin Murphy: Monument
Gavin Murphy: Sketches for a light / heavy monument , 2006 courtesy the artist

The sculpture is a replica of the unmarked monument on Killiney Hill that commemorates the forgotten death of the Duke of Dorset after an accident on the hill. It seems to openly reference Dan Flavin's 'monument' series, but its shape also suggests in passing the Miss General Idea Pageant, and perhaps shares an interrogation of documentation as part of an enquiry into what contributes and constitutes an event. This sculpture is the most apparent 'heavy' object, referencing a traditional sense of commemoration and construction involved in turning a chosen event into a memorial, its newspaper building blocks of literally everyday materials contributing towards something questionably more lasting or meaningful.


The more ephemeral installations hover around this ballast, manifesting Murphy's interest in the passing and perceptual halting of time. One video, shown for the duration of a day outside the National College, shows in slow motion a man eating a hamburger. He is being filmed in one take from outside the establishment where he sits, slowly and unassumingly taking large bites. The other video, shown for a full day on a window facing Temple Bar Lane, shows a stop-motion scrap between two women, a loop of their pushes and hair-pulls on the quays of Bachelors Walk playing incessantly.








Gavin Murphy: Monument
Gavin Murphy: Sketches for a light / heavy monument, 2006 courtesy the artist

Though Murphy's 'light/ heavy' binary pun in the title sets up for an examination of the implications of both words physically (ie mass density, lightwaves) and philosophically (consequentiality), the proposed co-lingering of these terms rightfully draws Nietzsche through Kundera's Unbearable lightness of being , but seems to limit the suggestions present in the work itself. On one hand, the exhibition seems to be calling forth everyday observations as a subject equally worthy of architectural monuments and artistic tributes, equally ridiculous or resonant as any other chosen moment in history to be attempted to be cast into an object. Having said this, the staged and melodramatic elements of the quarrel video seem out of place alongside the more potent offhand and mundane contents of the other installations.








Gavin Murphy: Monument
Gavin Murphy: Sketches for a light / heavy monument, 2006 courtesy the artist

It is, however, the manipulation and deliberate reconstruction of these chosen moments that pose further questions. His temporal manipulations call to mind what Walter Benjamin wrote on moments of stasis in Illuminations and The Arcades project regarding the "dialectics at a standstill" allowing a "flash of awakened consciousness." This suggests the manipulation itself as an act of creating the meaningful memory of any given moment, the exhibition examining the monument simply as a monument to and in itself.


Chris Fite-Wassilak is a writer and curator currently based in Dublin. He is the former editor of collaborative comic This Way Up ( www.growgnome.com ) and is currently working towards the 'Lighthouse' caravan cinema as part of the House Projects series of exhibitions.


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