This new body of work revisits themes and concerns explored by the artist in previous projects. In Lumpy Art History 2000 / 2001,Sarah experimented with materials, context and titles to interrogate the idea of painting itself and questioned the nature of art through questioning its history.
In Top Half of the Hero and Upside-down Mountains, 2002 / 2003 Sarah moved from making paintings to making murals, video-work, photography and neon works. She also sought to explore our relationship with the world through appropriating different modes of presentation. In the case of The Hunting Box Party 2003 – 2008 she used the mechanism of the political process as a means for exploring ideas of communication, looking at notions of identity, engagement and access.
These themes and approaches find their way through to this installation. Sarah looks again at the nature of reality, at fragmentation and constructivism, at how we strive for a connection with the landscape and at our separation from it.
I would like to thank the artist for her enthusiasm, hard work and commitment to this exhibition and for the opportunity to show this work at West Cork Arts Centre.
West Cork Arts Centre
‘I thought I dreamed of you’ an installation of mixed media by Sarah Iremonger
How do we understand our reality? Can we be sure it even exists? Is it just a dream or a thought? ‘I thought I dreamed of you’ explores the idea of fragmented realities presenting a sort of post-modern possibility.
The title of the exhibition is a give-away ‘I thought I dreamed of you’ explores the idea of ‘I’ as a thought, while ‘dreamed’ questions the nature of reality suggesting it as imagined and constantly in the past. While ‘you’ is experienced in terms of the existential quandary of the ‘other’, questioning how we understand ourselves through others and the world around us.
To add to the complication, you could also say that the words ‘thought’ and ‘dreamed’ position the work in a possible past reality which is also present. This asks the viewer to reconsider their position in relation to a perceived reality, which is constantly under review as a social construct. For example, in the work Vista & Access this social construct takes the form of a sort of oscillation between a desired view of the landscape at Mizen Head and the means by which you have to obtain that view from the centre of bridge suspended in mid air, exposing the desire for an emersion and engagement with our surroundings in this case as a fallacy.
A different form of engagement with landscape is explored in the work Ode to Courbet. Using found video footage, the romantic notion of the desire to be immersed in landscape is turned on its head when faced with the reality of how young people engage with their surroundings using cars in a sport called ‘doughnutting’.
The idea of fragmented realities is explored further in the central work of the installation which consists of 5,000 badges, each of an individual photograph, bagged and labeled, evoking the idea of a personal keepsake but with mass production undertones. The badges have been placed together in a case so that most of the images are not visible and they are inaccessible. The digital photographs are taken from the artist’s own collection, unedited and dating from 2001 onwards. Each photograph represents a captured moment, which has already passed. This ephemeral reality is highlighted by the multitude of photographs and by the use of badges as the frame or support for the photographs, since badges are, by their nature, ephemeral objects. Here, perception of time is sentimental, in the sense that an attempt is being made to capture and hold onto something, as all photographs do, which has already disappeared.
Neon Waterfall is reflective of the sublime in painting, intensifying and elevating the experience of the subject to the point of the extraordinary. This is achieved through the reduction of the waterfall to a single neon strip. This is the third work in neon made by Sarah Iremonger to date and continues her concerns with using contemporary media to examine traditional landscape themes.
Other video works include Habitation a short video piece which further explores the immersion or engagement process which occurs when we are confronted with the desire to co-exist with our surroundings. Here the scene is Ballyannon Wood in Midleton and the video shows the remains of an attempt to create a habitation in the woods.
While the compilation work Rushbrooke Links focuses on the suburbanisation of Ireland, in this housing estate on the edge of Cobh, the trees represent a last stand by nature against an ever-encroaching suburbia. All movement has been edited out of the scenes and some of them have been repeated to exaggerate an atmosphere of strangeness. Inspired by German romantic painting, the video and photograph show that nature has become a landscape in which we both live, and are separate from.
Sarah Iremonger 2009