artist / participant
Tom Molloy’s practice has been concerned for some time with the examination of power in both a political and historical context, and how it can, and has been perverted, raising global questions about morality. For over a decade Molloy has been determined to challenge the observers’ perception, by creating ambiguous works that investigate the overlap between representation and association. In his line of questioning Molloy deliberately presents minimal representations of significant political and historical moments. In opposition to the clean, simplicity of the works presentation, the viewer finds conceptually rich, multi-layered meanings inherent to the artwork.
In this current body of work Molloy analyses Orwellian themes relating to censorship, power and politically charged occurrences, through exploration of the secondary narrative threads underlying the initial work. The subordinate element becomes the primary focus of the art, and forces the viewer to assert their position, taking responsibility to interpret the works by observing from a different vantage point than would be typically explored. This Duchampian approach to evaluating work is a central concern in Molloy’s practice.
The principal work in this exhibition, Subplot, features transcribed passages from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, focusing on the accounts in the novel that detail the relationship between protagonist Winston and his lover, Julia. The work is conceptually edited by Molloy and engages with subliminal elements of the plot, highlighting the destructive side of human nature and ultimate betrayal, deliberately undermining the ideas of censorship explored in the novel.
A quote attributed to the German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, a century before the advent of Hitler, states: "Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too.” It has particular resonance in the artwork Book, and links many of the subliminal concepts in the artworks on display in the exhibition. The dark material and topics presented in this show will provoke a reaction, and instigate response.
The curatorial concept behind this exhibition was devised and positioned to run concurrently with Dublin Contemporary, whose theme is Terrible Beauty: Art, Crisis, Change & The Office of Non-Compliance. It was a deliberate strategy to position Molloy’s work in this context, as a key focus of his practice comments on the political, and the backlash from the documented past, and its manipulation. This exhibition addresses the dominant theme of censorship and its implications, featuring major literary figures and key thinkers, and courts controversial and contentious approaches in producing the work. The work illustrates several momentous occasions in twentieth century history, and seeks to explore the subsequent implications in a contemporary society. There is an ironic undertone to some of the work, however it interrogates the different possibilities that could, and have arisen globally as a consequence of man’s inhumanity to man.
Tom Molloy was born in Waterford and he works between a studio in the West of Ireland and in northern France. He attended The National College of Art & Design in Dublin, earning his B.A. in Fine Art in 1987 and his M.A. in Fine Art in 1992. A survey exhibition of his work was held at the Limerick City Gallery of Art in 2005 (publication) and at the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, County Meath, in 2008 (publication). In 2010 Molloy had a major exhibition at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in USA (publication). Tom Molloy is included in the permanent collections of the Irish Museum of Modern Art; The Blanton Museum of Art, Texas; The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Dublin; The Zabludowicz Collection, London; Fondazione Spinola Banna Per L’Arte, Turin; FRAC-Piemonte; and Princeton University Art Museum as well as several international private collections. This year, Tom Molloy already featured in 10th edition of the Sharjah Biennial, "Plot for a Biennial"; he will show new work at an exhibition entitled "ART_" at the FLAG Art Foundation in New York later this year; at TULCA 2011 "After the Fall" in Galway, curated by Megs Morely and at an exhibition that runs annually at Al Ma'mal Foundation entitled "The Jerusalem Show".
Text by Rowan Sexton, August 2011
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