*SNAFU (2009)

Shredded American banknotes, epoxy resin,

brass rods, Dimensions Variable.

*Some Kind of Agit Prop Monster (2010)

16:9 HD Video, 2min 23sec.

Image courtesy of the artist.

I imagine that Temple Bar Gallery+Studios (TBG+S) is usually approached with trepidation by the uninitiated art crawler. To put it kindly, it is an architecturally austere modernist block of black and white squares, a Liquorice Allsort of sorts. This confectionary metaphor accidentally extends to Butler’s sickly-sweet aesthetic at TBG+S. First impressions offer obvious associations with the glossy plastic and tarty colour of Jim Lambie and Eva Rothchild, both of whom have a predilection for a similarly sexy, psychedelic formalism. However, there is also violence at play in Butler’s corrupted aesthetic, similar to early Bruce Nauman; an artist whose obsessive compulsion to mark time and territory with a blend of murky death- and sex-drive is re-imagined by Butler via the viral elasticity of the internet. Butler’s art is hardcore digital to Nauman’s softcore analog: it’s Tacita Dean on CRACK!

The Irish artist is heard loud and clear at TBG+S as a ‘remediator’ of, pretty much, anything goes: nothing is sacred in his digital malformations. In one instance, against eye-popping vinyl graphics, can be found three ‘sincere’ reproductions of paintings by Robert Hunt. The twist is, they’re not by Butler, but by a painting reproduction business in Dafen, China, hired by the artist to make the hollow replicas.

Against the same gridded, black vinyl wall-scape, two flat Screen TVs are situated on the floor of the gallery. As always, the viewer arrives late to the invariably looped art video, it’s expected. Stepping between the two TVs, aware of my feet more than usual, the two apposing video works switch from animated abstraction to repurposed film. Warped animations of multicoloured rotating spirals act like the test cards that once decorated our grainy TV screens outside broadcast hours. The repurposed film is documentary footage of a U.S. State Department media briefing during the Vietnam War. Opposite, Butler’s digitally mutated edition of the film trailer for Sex and the City 2 loops on the other, incongruously retitled Some Kind of Agit Prop Monster.




Cock a Leg_or Squat?

ALAN BUTLER_I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant

Temple Bar Gallery+Studios (TBG+S)_Dublin_20 October – 27 November_2010_

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