It is some time now that the Burren College of Art[1] has taken its place amongst the arts institutions of Ireland; evidenced by its graduates contributing to the Irish visual arts scene of Ireland and beyond. But, if the college still had to prove that it is not a school of landscape painting, the Graduate MFA show 2012, ‘Korporeal’ might have suffice. In fact, the president and founder Mary Hawkes-Greene does not mention landscape when she presents the college’ singu- larity in her introduction to the show’s catalogue. What she insists on is the opportunity for “complete immersion” for “the experience in transformation” that a postgraduate education can be and what the BCA is offering is “focus, commitment, ingenuity, imagination and critical rigour”.

For ‘Korporeal’, as the name of this year MFA exhibition indicates, it is the body in its presence as well as in its absence that is the common thread between all three graduates. And the body, her own, is the primary site of practice for Angelalynn Dunlop as a performance artist. As is often the case for performance art, viewers encounter the work through documentation of the performances: here videos and photographs. Dunlop addresses the issue of the status of documentation in relationship to the work in pointing out that they were made by members of the audience and as such represents their own projection not the artist’s. This relationship between point of views and the performance informs the installation in a darkened room at the back of the main exhibition space, of two videos recording simultaneously the performance Ire Bhava Pique Rasa.

In her performances, Dunlop deliberately places herself within a lineage of female performance artists who questioned the limits of identity through bodily endurance and pain.

Marina Abramovic readily comes to mind, not only as the better known artist but also because Dunlop could be said to quote her; the Lips of Thomas (1975) for instance in the unsettling performance Healing the Heart through scarification and Ingestion. But the reference to the older artist serves to off set the differences – Dunlop substitutes Abramovic’s transcendentalist quest for a logocentric practice – the performance is quite precisely what the title announces. The artist uses her body to literally enact these language clichés and idioms that define and limit our being in the world. Although often harrowing to watch, her performances are also full of humour as in I Don’t Need Pubic Hair To Be a Feminist, where she lathers her face in the men’s room while the shaving can be seen to have been done elsewhere.

Another performance that stretches the tension between the banality of common expressions and its enactment to the point of exhaustion is Bushel Before I Die – of which there are two versions interior and exterior. Taking the popular saying ‘you’ll eat a bushel of dirt before you die’ that is supposed to teach humility, literally Dunlop proceeds: the mud-covered body presents us with a humility that is disturbingly humiliating.

Angelalynn Dunlop, Before I Die Interior, courtesy of the artist, 2012.




Angelalynn Dunlop – Arianna Garcia-Fialdini – Haynes Goodsell

Graduate MFA Show

Burren College of Art

April 14 - 29, 2012

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