'What Stands Forth'

Niamh Forbes and Aoife Mullan

Basic Space, Dublin

21 – 28 August, 2014

Basic Space, Dublin, is an open-plan artists' studios, transforming now and then into a sprawling gallery or studios-cum-gallery. As the latter, the racket of art-making in the studios and its resolution in the gallery invariably spill into one another. However, this lively characteristic plays into the shared hands of Niamh Forbes' and Aoife Mullan's current exhibition of deliberate irresolution, resolutely titled 'What Stands Forth'.

A timber and fabric partitioned room stands askew in the gallery like a B&Q washitsu (Japanese-style room).

The exterior aspect of the room that greets you first on entering the gallery is painted cobalt blue, and dressed with four horizontal swatches of coloured fabric that alternate between Marigold yellow and orange (the rubber glove kind of Marigold, not the flower). The composition suggests domesticated, quotidian reality at its most unambitious: 'it's a good day to hang out the washing and dream of sun holidays'.

On the exterior sides of the room an interior light source helps reveal the stud wall behind the scrim-faced partition. Towards the front, a doorway invites you in. Before entering the room – after a quick glance inside reveals nothing immediately informative – glazed eyes are drawn to four sheets of paper on the far gallery wall with printed text. An explanation? A statement? No such luck!

The text is a garbled account of Forbes' and Mullan's deceivingly arbitrary decision-making during installation over the course of the preceding days and nights. Subject matter?, nil. Interests?, nada. Reasoning?, zilch. It dawns that their stumbling through confessional is the exhibition's raison d'être. Peppered with poetic slippages that dance around revelation, the text reveals everything about something about nothing.

The room – (from a distance) minimalism at its anaemic vampire best – gets a transfusion when you step inside. But the subject of the room still remains pallid; closed to interrogation, open to acceptance. Naked light bulbs suggest great ideas! While emasculating red and blue aroma diffusers of a eucalyptus and rosemary mix transport you elsewhere. Above, floor underlay has the Midas touch. (The blue, yellow and red candescence amidst the white-washed interior bespeaks Mondrian.) While floor-bound in a corner, a neat stack of sanded timber off-cuts have been given unnecessary attention. From such accented and perfumed suggestiveness, subjectivity abounds. The room is a space where you can summon an image that, perhaps, cannot be made.

On a table a slip of paper with the printed website address wwwww.eu makes me third-guess successive second-guessing. 5 Ws? – an acronym for Who? What? When? Where? Why?? Makes sense in a context of non-sense.

In situ, I type wwwww.eu into my phone's browser – a Tumblr homepage opens. The online "virtual iteration" promised in Forbes' and Mullan's text is nowhere to be found. Instead, an inactive site with the graphic signatures of the exhibition. However, later that night on my home computer, wwwww.eu opens onto a rudimentary 3-D Sketch Up animation that orbits Basic Space gallery, the artists' fabricated room, and a flattened aerial map of the local area. While watching the 14 second orbiting loop I am immediately brought back to the room. Their exhibition is a Möbius strip of endless dirtying and vacuuming (a self-perpetuating impasse).

Niamh Forbes' and Aoife Mullan's 'What Stands Forth' at Basic Space is a perverse, clever, self-effacing and original 'staging', in which "every word is a word de trop" (Emil Cioran)1, and every thought and image produced thereafter, of the observer's design.

The first paragraph of their text in the gallery says it all. (This review, never happened).


                                        'We should fill this place.', remarked someone.

                                    'Four kids. They were looking for an exhibition. Instead they found eachother.'.

                                    the same someone. (idiosyncratic punctuation by the artists.)

Through 28 August.


E.M. Cioran, 'Some Blind Alleys: A Letter', from The Temptation to Exist, Richard Howard (Trans), introduction by Susan Sontag,

Arcade Publishing, 2013, p. 112.

27 Aug. 2014.

So ... Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Niamh Forbes and Aoife Mullan

'What Stands Forth' (2014)

Courtesy of the artists and Basic Space, Dublin.



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