press release

Irish artist Alan Phelan's practice involves the production of objects, participating in events and projects, curating and writing. These are all informed by and contribute to an interest in what he sees as the innate narrative potential in art. Phelan’s work creates relationships between disparate elements of political history, cultural theory, science fiction, popular culture and modified cars. The resulting relationships are multi-faceted, with individual works and installations forming a visually coherent whole, yet projecting a complexity that captures a sense of the subject being addressed. Straddling the discourses of representation and production, Phelan explores how meanings are generated by locating references in real historical fact and invented or fictive scenarios.

Alan Phelan, The Other Hand of Victory, Hebei version, 2009, marble , 60 x 40 x 40 cms, Courtesy of the artist, Mother’s Tankstation and IMMA Alan Phelan, Goran’s Stealth Yugo, 2009, Chrome plated steel, plastic and rubber, Made in collaboration with Goran Krstic, car designer from Zastava/Yugo car factory in Kragujevac, Serbia. Commissioned by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2009.Alan Phelan, Goran’s Stealth Yugo, 2009, Chrome plated steel, plastic and rubber, Made in collaboration with Goran Krstic, car designer from Zastava/Yugo car factory in Kragujevac, Serbia. Commissioned by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2009.

In this exhibition Phelan combines two bodies of work. The first is Fifteen Fragile Absolutes, a project developed during his time on IMMA’s Artists’ Residency Programme in 2008. The resulting works deal with nationalism, science fiction, political history, masculinity, humour and popular culture – stemming from random words extracted from Slavoj Žižek’s text The Fragile Absolute, 2001. The second body of work centres around Phelan’s ongoing investigations into car culture, frequently referencing ‘boy racers’ and modified car enthusiasts. While on a residency programme in Serbia, he approached a concept car designer to replicate his sculptural methodologies, for example, in the use of raw wood and industrial plastics to create ‘provisional’ works, which remain ‘unfinished’ or seemingly ‘incomplete’. The car designed for Phelan was based on a 1970s Fiat model, the most common car in Serbia. The car will be installed in the Formal Gardens of IMMA.

Alan Phelan was born in Dublin in 1968 and studied at Dublin City University and the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Phelan’s solo exhibitions in Ireland include the Kilkenny Arts Festival, 2004; Galway Arts Centre, 2005; Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown, 2006, and Mothers Tankstation, Dublin, 2007. He has also exhibited widely internationally including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2004-05; SKUC, Ljubljana, 2004; SKC Gallery, Belgrade, 2006, and Feinkost, Berlin, 2007. He was editor/curator for Printed Project, issue 5, launched at the Venice Biennale in 2005, and has curated exhibitions at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; Project Arts Centre, Dublin, and Rochester, New York. Phelan was short-listed for this exhibition for the AIB Art Prize in 2007.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Seán Kissane, Curator, IMMA; Dušan Bjelic, Professor of Criminology at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, USA; Medb Ruane, writer and journalist, and Tony White, novelist and journalist.

The exhibition will tour to Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Wales, and Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick, later this year.

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Alan Phelan