Art Exhibition – Artists investigate the boundaries of privacy

1276872_204372566400695_629113100_oImplicated is an exhibition by six artists in which they seek to investigate the boundaries of privacy.  As investigations go, this rather ephemeral and the exhibits are quite difficult to understand.   But one of the exhibits, by Billy Ward, a London based Englishman with a Fine Arts degree out of Chelsea College of Art surely goes way outside the boundaries of privacy.  He calls his exhibit “The Falling Man” and it consists of a TV monitor playing a video, on a permanent loop, of a man at a railway station, committing suicide by deliberately falling in front of a train.

As an investigation into the boundaries of privacy if fails.  For surely this man, this unknown dead man was entitled to a degree of privacy in this, the final moment of his life.  Indeed he surely still   retains some right to privacy, even though he be dead.  His privacy is in this exhibit exploited and abused by the public exhibition of his fatal act of suicide.  And surely the family of this unknown dead man, they too are entitled to some privacy over the death of this man, who they perhaps loved and whose death was, to them, a great tragedy    It is unclear whether the family approved off or permitted the use of this video as an Art exhibit, but it seems unlikely that they were asked, unlikely that they would approve.   And if by some accident of fate they were to stumble into an art gallery, in Dublin or London,  and see their loved one, exhibited for all the world in his fatal distressful last moments upon this earth, then it is highly improbable that they would congratulate the Artist for a producing a  wonderful piece of modern art.

Of course Art should disturb you, cause you to think, unsettle your complacency.   That is the task of the true Artist.   When Tracy Emin, exploited her own privacy, by displaying her unmade bed, with used condoms, dirty underwear, worn sheets and poor hygiene she achieved all of those things, unsettle, disturb, think.  She was truly exploring the boundaries of privacy.  But the point is that it was HER privacy; It belonged to her; she was free to exploit her own privacy, use her own privacy; exhibit her own privacy, but this, this “Falling Man” is someone else’s privacy.   Emin had no need to ask permission to exploit her privacy.  And if her bedroom secrets lacked dignity, then it was her dignity that was offended, no one else’s.    But where is the dignity of this falling man.  For this falling man. This dead man

Dermot Bolger’s adaptation of Ulysses – Edinburgh Fringe

JoyceIf you were to seriously sit down and attempt to adapt Joyce’s Ulysses for the stage then you possibly ought not to do so without being supervised by a consultant psychiatrist. Alternatively you could prepare for such an epic task by ensuring a good supply of whiskey, perhaps a bottle per chapter, a continuous intravenous drip feed of strong espresso coffee, several lines of cocaine, perhaps two lines per chapter, a high performance shredding machine and a loaded revolver.

And yet Dermot Bolger has penned this stunning adaptation of the novel without any of the above. Or at least without admitting to any of the above.

He uses a cast of eight to recreate that crowded fateful day in Dublin. It’s a Victorian Dublin that appears on the stage with its brown furniture, its brown doors, brown snugs and mirrors and the  brown clothes of the characters. And from all that brown bounces the brilliant sparking language of educated Dublin, on its uppers. They crowd the stage with words and it becomes the streets of Dublin.

The text of Joyce. How dare Bolger mess with the text! Poor old Stephen Joyce must be having great fits of rage that someone, Bolger, ugh Bolger, has dared to mess with Stephen’s rights over the sacred text . But in fact he hardly messes with it at all. Oh it’s out of sequence with the sacred printed pages, yes, and abridged of course, but the words, the words, are of Joyce, not of Bolger. He allows the talented cast to catch the wit of the words, much better than most of us will ever catch it by the reading of the words upon the sacred pages. And he allow Molly, adulterous Molly Bloom, to luxuriate in the carnal reminiscences, much more erotic than I recall reading on the page.

The production is by the Tron Theatre company from Glasgow is simply a triumph. It will be enjoyed as much by scholars of Joyce as it will by those of us who have struggled for so long to truly appreciate the book.

Of course Dermot Bolger should keep the loaded revolver (if he had one). For if anyone, on the back of this astonishing achievement, asks him to do an adaptation of Finnegan’s Wake, he should blow their fucking head off.