Artists' Takeover: Elaine Byrne

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I arrived back in Philadelphia last week to prepare for my exam in a few weeks. Autumn is beautiful in Pennsylvania, the colors of the trees are spectacular along the Delaware river. The beautiful walks and parks in the city have tried to make up for the curfews, the boarded up stores and the National Guard on the streets. But with the election this week by the time you read this perhaps everything will already be brighter…

Calling
Aliza Shvarts’ Hotline. This is an interactive performance which appropriates the dated, faceless technology of the telephone hotline in order to consider what kinds of things we ask, confess, or create with one another at a mediated distance. Conceived in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work explores the sorts of intimacies the face precludes yet the voice allows. You can participate remotely by calling the hotline, which connects the caller to a “choose your own adventure”- type narrative distributed over a voicemail tree. Or you can scan the QR code and connect to the voicemail boxes and listen to the messages participants have left describing their psychic experiences
As part of the work, Aliza will be holding a zoom workshop: How to Be Psychic which will lead you through a series of exercises on premonition, prediction, and visual analysis in order to enhance your innate intuitive abilities. November 12th, 2020 at 8:00 PM (New York).
Book here
Reading
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman – it is a great read and a welcome relief from my PhD reading. Constantly shifting directions, mixing archives with fiction, it examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolds in Philadelphia and New York the beginning of the 20th century.
Among the many great essays and articles in Bomb magazine you can find an essay written by Hartman – The End of White Supremacy, An American romance in their published (in their June #152),
Read here
Making
I’m a fan of the Rational Dress Society’s jumpsuits, which is an experiment in counter fashion – where we are invited to replace all our clothes with jumpsuits, the universal garment, suggesting that the rejection of choice might open us up to new possibilities and better ways of living. This summer they ran an online course JUMPSUIT: HOW TO MAKE A PERSONAL UNIFORM FOR THE END OF CAPITALISM – which was great, so keep an eye on their website for the next one but in the meantime if you feel like going it alone they have instructional videos online here
Browsing
The Library of Congress, which is the largest library in the world with millions of books, photographs, film, maps etc online - (there are some super early silent film clips of the making of skyscrapers in NY in the times when no one had heard of health and safety)
View website here
One book in the library, which I’m very interesting in, is Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, published, 1865-66. The Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg appears on pages 89 and 90 and is one of the most infamous of Gardner's photographs. The body of the Rebel Sharpshooter is actually the identical body in the previous photograph – The Sharpshooter’s Last Sleep (page 88) restaged, renamed and reconstituted. Though Gardner never admitted moving the body of the solider to create a more effective scene, it has been shown that the photograph was staged.
View here
Listening
Sunn O))) an American experimental metal band from Seattle. They are known for their heavy, and slow sound, which blends diverse genres including drone, dark ambient and black metal. Very appropriate for the times in which we are living.
Listen here
Following
Beyond the now is a syndicated platform, founded by partners based and working in locations across the globe which aims to open new creative, cultural and political affinities for a post pandemic world. There is a great video by Gregory Sholette sharing various projects currently happening around the world.
View here
Greg’s blog is also worth checking out here
Watching
I have thoroughly appreciated the Tribeca “a short a day keeps anxiety away’ program which they started when Covid kicked in. The first short – I think she likes you – landed in my mailbox on 28th March
Watch here
and I got a short every day after. Many of the short film are still available to watch here
Highlighting
Harry Clarke's stained glass illustration of John Keats's poem The Eve of St Agnes. Set in the middle ages, it is a romantic poem of 42 stanzas so I’ll not share it here but you’ll find the poem at poetryfoundation.org here
Image: Harry Clarke, The Eve of St Agnes, Hugh Lane Gallery collection (1924)
About the Artist
Elaine Byrne is an artist whose practice and enquiries have centred on topography and the marks that delineate identities and legacies, using photography, video and sculpture. Byrne focuses on opening new questions to highlight present day urgencies, legal or civic issues, using language alongside image as a methodology to provoke new ways of imagining. She has exhibited in Limerick City Gallery of Art, Hugh Lane Gallery, Douglas Hyde, UAM, EFA, 8th Floor and ISCP. Her work is held in collections nationally and internationally including the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has been a recipient of Culture Ireland funding, Arts Council Funding and Department of Foreign affairs funding. She has won several major awards such as the Art Laguna sculpture prize, The Celeste prize, the TINA art prize and the Curtin O’Donough award for photography. She has been awarded residencies in ISCP, The Farm, Art Omi, SOMA and MassMOCA to name a few. She was a fellow of the Whitney Independent Study Program and is currently a PhD candidate at Temple University, Phildadelphia.