ED ATKINS_‘Of tears, of course‘_Temple Bar Gallery + Studios_Dublin_2013_

Image courtesy of TBG+S and the artist_

In order to navigate (in words) Ed Atkins’s solo show ‘Of tears, of course’ at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin (TBG+S)—a textually dense and choreographically complex video-installation—a detailed description of the artworks displayed and gallery setting is necessary.

TBG+S is custom-divided into two spaces, two-thirds of which is a darkroom, leaving an awkward ‘lightspace’ looking out at passing pedestrians from the street level gallery. In the darkroom, two large projection screens lean against opposing walls, with temporally alternating video projections that portray a bald, digitally animated head in one instance, and decapitated hand in another; dissolving within a diaphanous, cerebral pink backdrop, with spits of colour and light. The head is Atkins’s: a Lex Luthorised self-portrait; a Rylean Ghost in the Machine; a Derridean Phantomachia[1], from which a human (not digital) voice spouts out profusely poetic language, ‘Concrete’-like. The voice is also Atkins’s, delivered with clear and proper diction, that is corrupted, now and then, with a “FUCK” and a “COCK.” The persistent presence of the talking head—a trope reminiscent of Beckett’s play Play— is sporadically interspersed with still images of human and textile textures. In another instance, inserted trompe-l’œil-like into the pink virtual backdrop, there is a moving image of an elderly, well-dressed man sitting at a desk as if preparing to give a presentation, while underneath a crowd of subtitle bars overlap one another. We are not told whom the gentleman is, but he has the quirky demeanor and dress-code of an astronomer, astrologer, Lacanian; your guess is as good as mine. However, after some queries into his identity I learnt that the unknown gentleman is one P.H. Pyrnne, an English modernist poet who is decribed as being “willfully hermetic, bound by an aesthetic formalism”: an appropriate pinup for Atkins’s imagist vernacular. Fleetwood Mac also make an abrupt audio appearance, but I didn’t have time to ‘Shazam’ the title.

Next to the darkroom, in the light of day, “posters” of greyscale images that equate to digital textures, architectures, mapping, are clumsily displayed on the newly built partition wall, as if you had just walked into an artist’s studio, which could be read as either ‘work-in-progress’ or pretentious ad hoc. A slice of blackout fabric pasted onto the same wall covers the entrance to the darkroom. But, just before you enter the darkroom, your attention is drawn to a flat screen TV, huddled in a corner, playing a digitally stylised recording of Atkins’s LIVE opening night performance, the script of which is repeated in the darkroom video projections, and is also available to read as a printout in the gallery—you see what I mean by textually dense and choreographically complex...




Semantic Teratomas for the


ED ATKINS, ‘Of tears, of course‘                                                                           Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin                                                                          15 February – 30 March, 2013.

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