Wednesday 14 November 2018

Art exhibition comes with prior warning

A plastic 'curtain' has been set up in theArts Centre to screen off the images from a public throughway. Inset: One of the images from the exhibition, with body parts covered up.
A plastic 'curtain' has been set up in theArts Centre to screen off the images from a public throughway. Inset: One of the images from the exhibition, with body parts covered up.

By Maria Pepper

Wexford Arts Centre has posted a warning to parents at the entrance to an exhibition containing explicit images which went on public display at the weekend.

Nude body parts in two photographic images, one of an orgy and another of the notorious Japanese cannibal Issei Sagawa pictured half-naked were covered up before the exhibition 'I like to eat with my hands' was officially opened last Saturday afternoon.

A plastic see-through curtain was also erected to separate the exhibition from a public through-way to d'Lush Cafe and a notice went up with the following warning: 'Visitors are advised that this exhibition contains some explicit images and parental discretion is recommended,'

The exhibition is presented jointly by the Arts Centre and Cowhouse Studios in Rathnure where the artists Taro Furukata and Anne-Marie Healy; dancer/choreographer Claire Huber, and Korean-French artist/design duo KVM comprising Ju Hyun Lee and Ludovic Burel spent an eight-week residency.

It is the work of KVM that has given rise to the public warning. Entitled 'The Horizontal worker - Green Screen 01', it incorporates photographic prints collected from the internet to explore issues concerned with the modern 24-hour working day including labour, exhaustion, care of the body, information consumption, being 'horizontal' and surival.

The Wexford exhibition will form part of a larger project which the artists have been invited to enter in the prestigious French exhibition Biennale Inernationale Design Saint-Etienne 2017.

The image of Issei Sagawi shows him prostrate and half-naked on a bed, watching a couple kissing on television. A cult figure from Japan, he killed a Dutch woman called Renee in Paris in 1981 and ate part of her body. Two years after his arrest, he was released and committed to a mental institution.

Sagawa makes his living by inviting press and documentary-makers to film his private life and KVM used his image because his situation describes Hikikomori, the Japanese term given to a reclusive person who connects with the world through the internet. As they surf the internet, they are consuming images and information at their leisure but their activity can also be seen as a form of work and production, according to the exhibition blurb.

Arts Centre director Elizabeth Whyte said a warning was necessary because of the explicit images and the fact that the building is a multi-use space where people of all ages come and go.

Ms. Whyte said the 'precautions' were put in place following discussions between the Arts Centre and the curators Rachael Gilbourne and Kate Strain whose practice is called RGKSKSRG.

She said the decision to cover up body parts in two of the KVM images was taken by the artists themselves during discussions with the Arts Centre prior to the exhibition going up.'The artists took it upon themselves to put censorship on it. They didn't show the full image,' she said.

The exhibition was installed by the curators who liaised with the absent artists via Skype during the process.

A group of Dublin-based artists and Arts Council representatives travelled to Wexford last Saturday to attend the opening. The artists themselves were not present.

Ms. Whyte said that in the art world, having an exhibition featuring work by artists of the calibre of KVM would be seen as a coup for the Arts Centre.

'People would have made the effort to come to Wexford because of the reputation of the artists and the curators. Rachael and Kate are new up and coming curators,' she said.

She advised anyone visiting the Arts Centre to see the show to first read the information sheet and to look at the exhibition as a group of work in its entirety.

'I like to eat with my hands' is supported by the Arts Council and Wexford County Council and will continue until October 5.

Wexford People

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