All at Once Collapsing Together at the Butler Gallery

Butler Gallery is very pleased to present All at Once Collapsing Together, a new body of work by Caoimhín Gaffney in a National Tour travelling to Highlanes Gallery and Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre.

Spanning across film, photography and writing, All at Once Collapsing Together uses fiction to imagine new ways of relating to the natural world. Images throughout the exhibition act as mirrors to the healing and relief the environment can offer, with narratives fraught with climate anxiety interrupting and reframing these as temporary and fragile.

Images and text unfurl across the two-screen film, with fragmented depictions of the human figure trying to become part of the ecosystem again. Characters share sublime encounters with previously common birds like the corncrake and golden eagle, and speak as the voice of the earth itself to conjure a more-than-human perspective. The potential for the characters to become more-than-human themselves is explored further when the native carnivorous round-leaved sundew consumes one of the women into a bog. After she dissolves, she emerges as a new multiplicitous entity that spreads across the land.

Text pieces in the form of poetry and short stories reflect on the relief from trauma that immersion in the natural environment can bring but, because it is in distress itself, questions are raised for the protagonists about their sense of self and their place in the world around them. The film and texts are without traditional narratives or character arcs, aiming to create an unsettled terrain that reflects the uncomfortable emotions and sensations they discuss. The work asks us to consider how important natural sensory information is to our sense of self: what does it mean for a sound to go missing from our ecosystem? When we no longer hear our native birds, which parts of ourselves will be forgotten?

Exhibition: 8th June- 28th July 2024

Artist in conversation with Pádraic E. Moore on 27th June, 6pm.

Three films are also being exhibited in the upstairs screening room, running on a loop: Everything Disappears (2014), Our Stranded Friends in Distant Lands (2015) and A Numbness in the Mouth (2016).

Supported by: the Arts Council of Ireland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Cavan Arts Office, Cavan County Council, Platform 31 and University of Atypical.

Milk and Nectar at Belfast Photo Festival

Emerging too damp to catch fire, 2023.

Medium format photograph, Giclée printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper, 35 cm x 25.6cm, edition of 5.

Household presents Milk and Nectar as part of Belfast Photo Festival. Bringing together the work of seven artists who respond to economic, social and geo-political issues to create compelling alternate visual landscapes. This multi-sited exhibition will take place in the shops, libraries and clubs of the Cregagh Road area of East Belfast. By presenting these works embedded in a local neighbourhood, we aim to draw out how global issues can affect, and intersect with, our day-to-day existence.

Featured Artists: Bassam Al-Sabah, Caoimhín Gaffney, Michael Hanna, Jan McCullough, Jennifer Mehigan, Katie Watchorn. The artists in this exhibition are represented on UPHOLD, Household’s not-for-profit online platform for selling and promoting work.

Dates: 8 – 16 June. Location: Venues along Cregagh Road

Artlink interview about new project

Artlink interview about new work made on residency at Fort Dunree, Co. Donegal.

Under Cover of Night at Ormston House

As part of Belltable Late Night, Ormston House presents Under Cover of Night, a late-night screening programme of artists’ film. The event features a double-bill: Becoming Plant by British-Kenyan artist Grace Ndiritu and Expulsion by Irish artist Caoimhín Gaffney.

‘Under cover of night’ is an idiom used when describing activities carried out during night time hours, in darkness, avoiding detection from authority. The clandestine and revolutionary connotations of this idiom frame this programme. With distinct focuses and subject matters, the films find commonality in their radical propositions for alternative forms of living and being.

A brief introduction precedes each film, and there will be a DJ in the foyer playing music before, between, and after the films. The screening is Friday, 15 March from 9pm–12am. Tickets are €10 and can be purchased on the Belltable website here.

Expulsion (2021) follows a fictional utopian Queer State as it devolves from a promised oppositional force into a dystopian bureaucracy. Interspersed throughout is archival footage of queer activist Joan Jett Blakk, the drag persona of Terence Smith, who ran for President of the USA in 1992. Expulsion navigates through queer history, from the witchcraft trials and the inquisition, to current debates around the co-opting of queerness by capitalism. The optimism and determination seen in the footage of Joan Jett Blakk’s speeches is countered by the fictional queer state depicted by Gaffney, which descends into totalitarianism.

Editioned photographic prints available through Uphold

I can still taste the lake water in my mouth, feel it in my ears, 2023.

Medium format photograph, Giclée printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper, 35 cm x 28.7 cm, edition of 5.

Uphold presents three of my new editioned photographic prints as part of their collection. I’ve developed these medium format photographs over the past year as part of a larger body of work reflecting on the restorative power of nature alongside the reality of climate change – and resulting climate anxiety – through a fragmented representation of the landscape. The photographs engage a quiet register to examine the subject and were shot throughout Ulster: on Rathlin Island and at Lough Sheelin and its adjoining bog in Cavan.

Uphold is an iniative based in Northern Ireland, run by Household, that sells work by contemporary artists in a not-for-profit model: when you buy from Uphold you are directly supporting the artists and their work.

The bog released all that it was holding, 2023.

Medium format photograph, Giclée printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper, 29cm x 35cm, edition of 5.

These works were developed with the support of funding from Platform 31, the University of Atypical and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Purchase editioned photographic prints through Uphold.

It all began with the turlough: broadcast and publication online

A short story I wrote, It all began with the turlough, was shortlisted for the RTÉ Short Story Competition. It all began with the turlough was read on air by Aaron Monaghan and broadcast on Friday 20th October on RTÉ Radio 1.  The judges called it an “extraordinary feat of imagination” and “an original and funny fantasy with a lake as the protagonist”.

Over the past few years, I’ve walked to and photographed a local turlough, sometimes surprised to return to its disappearance. I’m interested in how we view nature as something that should provide us with our wants and needs, and how often we also view it with irritation when it defies or inconveniences us.

Read the full short story here or listen to it on RTÉ. Listen back to an interview about the story on RTÉ’s Arena programme which was broadcast on 20th October 2023.

Bite the Hand that Feeds You, PhotoIreland publication

PhotoIreland’s new publication, Bite the Hand that Feeds you, acts as a record of and reflection on the 2021 festival. Featured in the book is a conversation between myself, Julia Gelezova, and Alice Butler & Daniel Fitzpatrick from aemi. The conversation examines the festival’s theme of food in connection with a screening programme To be Consumed in Totality curated by myself and aemi.

Available from the Library Project.

Artlink residency and screening, Donegal

As part of the Artlink residency at Fort Dunree, a screening of two of my films will be held at Buncrana Cinema on Saturday 12th August at 5pm.

The two short films being screened are: A Numbness in the Mouth is set in a future Ireland where citizens are instructed to excessively consume wheat as the result of a bumper crop. And, Far from the reach of the sun is set in a near future where a drug that can alter your sexuality is marketed to consumers, alongside archival footage reflecting on the church and medical profession’s history of interfering with the lives of LGBTQ+ people.

Total screening time: 40 minutes, followed by a discussion about these two films and how they influenced the work currently being shot on residency in Donegal. Both films are presented with subtitles.

More information on Artlink residency at Fort Dunree.

Curdle at the Courthouse Gallery & Studios, Clare

An exhibition by Caoimhín Gaffney, Bassam Issa Al-Sabah and Jennifer Mehigan at The Courthouse Gallery & Studios, Ennistymon, Clare.

Preview, 6pm, Friday 4th November. Exhibition continues 5th November- 3rd December 2022.

Each artist has a surreal approach to storytelling, with images, texts and voice-overs bending reality to a breaking point; mirroring how trauma distorts, remakes and retells lived experience in its own image. To curdle is to render something ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, or ‘to spoil’. Curdling represents this condensing of a reality gone sour through the different image-making methods in the exhibition; painting, analogue photography, video, hyperreal CGI and AI-generated images. These distinct approaches are brought together through a unifying impulse of sharing queer experiences. Alongside this, humour, frankness and absurdity appear as queer strategies of resistance.

New and older works by each artist are shown in order to trace the development of these ideas through their practices and across different mediums they have worked with. Caoimhín’s work uses outward-looking satires of geopolitics and capitalism, inward-looking meditations and dreamlike scenes and images to envision alternative ways of being and worlds with their own logic and possibilities. Bassam’s work creates intricate visions of war, resistance and perseverance to examine themes of displacement, nostalgia and personal mythology. Jennifer’s work explores personal and domestic materialities of queerness, grief and horror as they intersect with the screen, and ideas of truth and reality in a space where public and private spheres are constantly colliding with and abstracting each other. 

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