some songs are sung slower,

The Lab, Dublin, 2013.

Intoning the line some songs are sung slower—the title of Mick Wilson's solo exhibition at The Lab, Dublin—should be done at a slow and controlled pace. Before entering the exhibition I presumed a similarly ‘slow reading’ would be needed to navigate Wilson’s first solo show if his prominent history as an academic over the last decade was anything to go by. Could Mick Wilson ‘the artist’ emerge from the long shadow cast by Mick Wilson ‘the educator’?

If you have managed to find yourself in an art education institution in Ireland in the last twenty years, you most certainly would have glimpsed Wilson—dressed in full-casual black—dashing from one end of a long corridor to the next. It is in such pedagogical circles that Wilson has built a reputation for being an influential mover and a critical shaker across a stream of Irish art institutions (IADT, NCAD, DIT, CCAD, TCD, GradCAM etcetera etcetera); whose primary interests include the public sphere and creative art education.

So, the expectation is, before even entering Wilson’s first solo show that this is going to be a rhetorical, academic, textually substantial, heavy-handed mix of philosophical brute force with ‘theorems’ on social practice: in other words, social equations fit for the whiteboard, not real life, along with a base aesthetic composed of the A4 page and Power Point presentation. And although philosophers abound in the self-reflexively titled projection work, The Seminar, and the tools of the academic trade are the base technology behind Wilson’s subtle mixed-media transition works, the overall display is surprisingly democratic and non-didactic. In fact, the tone of the exhibition could even be described as apologetic, which could, however, be a strategy by Wilson to prevent himself from ‘talking down’ to his audience. As the artist says himself in the artwork My Bin Protest: “I have dropped my ‘let's-talk-about-art’ accent, and switched into my native ‘howayas’ accent in order to reduce any perceived social distance.” No matter what class or creed we are ‘native’ to, we could take this intentional ‘dumbing-down’ offensively, but somehow, Wilson strips down to his metaphorical jocks and socks and generously gives the audience a whole lot of himself, and in doing so, closing the gap between the artist and his audience: forget what Derrida said about the idle, false and pointless nature of trying to talk philosophy, or in this case, art, with the “man on the street.” By performing in what Wilson describes himself as a “downbeat” and “self-mocking” style of presentation, the intimate recitals, written and suggested by ethnic sounds, register, sympathetically, the subjects of death, politics, publics, from the perspectives of a collective ‘We’ and autobiographical ‘I’.




A Keynote Address

MICK WILSON_some songs are sung slower_

18 January – 9 March_

The Lab, Dublin_

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