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Catriona Leahy

In the work of Irish artist, Catriona Leahy, there is an inherent interest in sites and spaces that present with an accumulation of history or that harbour and exude an energy, a kind of aura, that an embedded past generates. Her observations focus on the tension, dissonance or incongruities that exist in these sites, which manifest themselves temporally, spatially and aesthetically. In doing so she challenges and undermines the boundaries that exist between the static and dynamic image, forcing them in some way to coexist. This tension is further reinforced through the presentation of ostensibly immobile compositional images or installations, which are subsequently broken up or fragmented. Consequently, the onus often lies with the viewer and his or her movements, to reactivate this tension or dissonance. The viewer becomes complicit in awakening the dormant image or setting in motion a collision of times.

For this project and exhibition, Catriona brings together new work as well as some previous work based on an old industrial fertiliser factory in Ireland (Albatross), the demise of which is paralleled somewhat by the redundancy of the mines in and around Genk. However, contrary to the obsolescence apparent in Albatross, the aftermath of the coal mining era in Genk left some flicker of hope and light in its passing. This is perhaps most evident in the landscape in its ability to prevail and flourish against the odds of an industry whose swift objective is to drill, carve and score through a densely compressed ecological foundation which is laid down in layers over thousands of years. Mimicking this compression, Catriona has selected a number of archival photographs taken during the rise of the mines and manipulated them to appear in a fragmentary and altered state. Cracks and fissures in the images represent what might be interpreted as light leaks or lacunae - spaces or gaps in the landscape that have the potential to harbour traces of the past or, alternatively, point to potential futures. In an ever-evolving landscape, it is only much later that the repercussions of a mining industry can be truly determined. The latency of a visual manifestation of such activities, teaches us that the consequences of our actions in one moment can have any number of outcomes – undetermined and unpredictable. It is this temporal latency that is of concern for Catriona – the ripples or tremors that are felt, experienced or perceived, only much later after the event, as traces that meld into the fabric of our present.

Catriona Leahy


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