Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Remnants (of our past)

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on December 1, 2008

Is a war the necessary process of achieving peace? Will people remember what is the cost for this calm moment? ‘Remnants (of our past)’ might remind you that this event – war – has happened and also makes you realize one crucial fact – it is still happening.

Stepping carefully on the shells of bullets all over the floor, they are golden and shining, and the sound when you walk on them is dulcet. The awful shooting is represented by this glorious metal-carpet ironically. On the walls, a number of identical wooden objects construct into geometric patterns. Arranged as concentric circles with a mirror in the centre or in lines, these wooden objects are very much like those legs that are hung in the traditional butcher’s shop, air-dried with no sign of life. They are in the shape of a rifle butt, which is the part that absorbs the sweat and heat from the holder’s hand. Treading upon these shells, your footsteps leave no trace behind. They are rolling under your shoes and make you walk with caution. Several metal chests for storing weapons surround a television, which shows the images of making weapons. In the corner of the exhibition site, a small chamber was installed with a missile and a chair inside.

The interpretation of this simple, quiet and formal exhibition is yet very emotional. There is no essential need to realize the history of the Ireland and England behind the exhibition. The show is a narrative of war, which has the image that everyone may be able to form without experiencing. That constructs human history and is still occurring. War is this shell-carpet generated by shooting, which people left no trail and may pretend what had taken place is nothing but an accumulated mechanical operation. These ham-like rifle butts remind you that a gun is not made only of steel but also of wood. This part of a rifle was hold by someone’s warm hand, and the other part is aimed at another’s head to ice him. The butts lined as hams indicate the dead life. You see your image in the mirror ringed by these wooden butts and it seems to recall that you are life as well, taking or being taken, you are one of them either way.

This is the scene of ‘remnants,’ but not only of the past. If you have noticed, in the title, ‘of our past’ is in brackets and tells you that ‘remnants’ are ongoing.  The leftovers of a war are much more than peace, history and memory. It is about life, culture and humanity. Gerard Mannix Flynn uses simple elements to construct his concern with the war between Ireland and England, yet he might also built the viewer a path to think about what is left after a battle.


Remnants (of our past) by Gerard Mannix Flynn

September 2008 – the New Year 2009

Presents by Farcry Productions at Dialogue, 43A Vyner Street


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