‘A View from Napoleon’s Nose’, an exhibition in the Kao Yuan Arts Centre, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, celebrates the work of a diverse group of ten artists from Northern Ireland. Curated by visual artist and writer, Brian Kennedy, the exhibition features the work of Lisa Byrne, Ian Charlesworth, Phil Hession, Allan Hughes, Clodagh Lavelle, Susan MacWilliam, Justin McKeown Philip Napier, Peter Richards and Victor Sloan.
Brian Kennedy states: The artists in this exhibition have all, in the past, demonstrated an interest to have their work seen in other cultures. Some are well-established having exhibited nationally and internationally for over 25 years, others are quickly making names for themselves and several have already represented Northern Ireland, for example, at the Venice Biennale and the Sao Paulo Biennale.
Political violence in Northern Ireland forms part of both Lisa Byrne’s and Victor Sloan’s work. Lisa uses film and photography to explore the trauma experienced by victims of sectarian violence. She also looks at the issues surrounding one’s life partner and growing old alone. For over 25 years, Sloan has been returning to imagery from the ‘Troubles’ in his work. He is currently working on a new body of work called 'Stop’ that is based on photographs from a bus tour around Belfast’s troubled past.
The specific context of Northern Ireland is also used by Ian Charlesworth who uses photography to re-work the documentary portrait. Ian looks at how Belfast’s urban youth are portrayed in both the media and social documentary. Peter Richards also uses photography but his primary concern is the process of constructing representations of existing representations. To do this he often uses the durational aspect of early photographic techniques. Susan MacWilliam uses photography, video and installations to explore the paranormal, the supernatural and perceptual phenomena. In Taiwan she is showing a work based on Dermo Optics that is often referred to as eyeless sight or fingertip vision.
Video work and performances form part of Phil Hession’s work. Phil worked with three local people in Taiwan to produce an original piece of work. Allan Hughes who explores the psychological relationships to the recorded voice also uses sound. He focuses on the role of synchronisation and the meaning between image and sound.
The interrelationship of art and politics in everyday life is Justin McKeown’s primary interest. His work for this exhibition will be based on the projected childbirths for Taiwan in 2010. Politics, power and cultural identity are issues explored by Philip Napier. Philip often uses movement and sound in his work. Clodagh Lavelle is interested in fleeting intimacy, curious moments and the unexpectedness of human behaviour. Her work in Taiwan will invite the viewers to engage with the piece and at times consequently interact with others.
Kennedy states: The exhibition does not claim to represent some historical tradition. What is important is that the work from one part of the world travels to another and through the interaction of artist and audience new cultural understandings and respect will develop.
‘A View from Napoleon’s Nose’, curated by Brian Kennedy, runs at the Kao Yuan Arts Centre from 3 March until 3 April, 2010. It is part of the touring programme of the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast. The exhibition is funded by Culture Ireland and the Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan. The Golden Thread Gallery is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.