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Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 2000

installation: paintings, sculpture, various media including school chairs, plaster, household paint, taxidermy, Toile de Jouy, waste metal, balloons, UHT, cow skull, steel bowls, video.

performance; with faux fur blanket, knives and 36 litres of cream. duration 5hrs.

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Project Arts Centre Dublin September 2000



‘Idyll’ took the form of a multi media installation, including paintings, sculpture, video and live performance. The Live element was crucial to the presentation.In the performance which opened the show  and lasted five hours, the final hour signalling the literal break-through from one space to another, from  the white walls of the Gallery into the black box of the Cube. In the Cube which one entered through the broken opening, a ritual action took place involving small tables and chairs, 36 litres of whipped cream, a cows’ skull, large stainless steel bowls and the artists’ body.


An edited video record of the event was shown on a small monitor near the remains of the performance for the duration of the exhibition.


In his accompanying essay ‘On Idylls’, McQuinn wrote:


“Karl Marx wrote that “we are so estranged from our human essence that the direct language of man, the expression of need, strikes us as an offence against the dignity of man”. The harbouring of need within the uunconscious is a powerful force and the influence of repressed fixation or desire is critical in the shaping of our persona. One place where society actually celebrates manifestations of darkness and desire is in art.


Robert Motherwell said that an artist was someone with an abnormal sensitivity to a particular material. The expression of abnormality in the context of art somehow allows us to look at the flaws and wonders of our self image and have access to that which we have managed to conceal.

In spite of our efforts to refashion our inner landscapes into some kind of acceptable or idyllic arrangement, each time we do so the unconscious will replace the removed discomfort with a new one.This is the balancing nature of the unconscious. Yet manifestations of obsession and repressed desire are treated cautiously or even penalised, rather than accepted as opportunities to observe the vipers in the corners of our own pastorale.


There is in art a particular regard for the idea of the uncanny. Freud has described the uncanny as ‘something which is secretly familiar, which has undergone repression and returned from it’. The challenge for the artist is to locate that which is hidden and obstinate within the dark landscapes of the mind. In attempting to articulate the finding, manifestations of the uncanny are brought into the light. By going through this process the artist can find ways of making the previously unacceptable more accessible.”


In the programme notes for Idyll, Valerie Conor (Artist and Curator) wrote :


“From the bestiality of Arcadia to the repression of Romanticism, mortality and transcendence, geography and poetry, need and desire, safety and danger, familiarity and strangeness, define the cultural idyll as a place that is crossed by many erotic pathways.

Idyll is, in part, a contemporary recollection of the terrible beauty at the heart of picturesque landscape painting.”


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