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Lee Welch's Narcissistic Obsession :: 02/09/04 to 29/09/04

From: Krystal Taylor
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 21 September 2004


"An interesting exhibition", Eimear McKeith of the Event Guide.

Looking at this body of work at first glance one could easily come to the conclusion that Welch really adores himself. He may even live in a house of mirrors to dwell within his narcissistic obsession. I would find both of these conclusions to be superficial.

Since it has initial appearance in the Tallaght Community Arts Centre it has been simultaneously exhibited in Soundworks, Art Trail, the Big Bang, in the Digital Hub and currently in Broadway Cinema. Touching on ideas of quantum physics with the concept of a parallel universe, using each space to create near duplicates of again & again then each being sited in a new context.

“There's a famous allegory about a map of the world that grows in detail until every point in reality has its counterpoint on paper; though the phenomenon captured is time, not space, and the medium is digital memory rather than paper and ink.”*

The one minute video loop of Welch’s “attempt to capture the seemingly uncontrollable transient of time” employs a simple pose of the artist with a detached almost unemotional expression that captures the inconspicuous transformations of the day to day. He seems to be creating “a paradox well-known to new parents: Mom and Dad buy a video camera expecting to document Junior's first years, only to find that, while they do indeed shoot anything and everything, they never get around to watching all they recorded. There aren't enough hours in the day for such marathons of consumption.”*

Curators Cliodhna Murphy & James Payne looked into dйrives, which involved playful-constructive behaviors, and awareness of psycho geographical effects, and were thus quite different from the classic notions of journey. A dйrive could take place over a minute or even a few days. In Welch’s “efforts, to regain some control and understanding of the perception of time”, it was one year condensed to 60 seconds and his journey was one of time. This may well be a look into the links of societies’ obsession with receiving and retaining information as well as wanting to procrastinate the effects of ageing in which he has “created an evolving portrait through a means of self-preservation”.

Another piece, untitled, an old stereoscopic viewer mounted to the wall uses two images to create a 3-D portrait of the artist. Most people fail to realize the two images observed are different. In fact they are the alpha and omega of the work. When viewed a transfusion of time occurs where the blurring of the past and the nearer present forms a new identity. The stereo-scope limits its viewing to one person at a time and forces the viewer to lay one image upon another, completely or not so completely different, image which forms a new apparition, one that only exists through the viewer.

Meanwhile on the walls of the galleries Welch uses a row of stills from each day of the video in passport-sized photographs. When entering the space these self-portraits are at every turn creating an analog video loop through the viewers’ circumspection giving no indication as to where it begins or ends. Jeff Wall said “a picture is something that makes invisible its before and after” but here each fleeting moment is exposed.

“The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image, which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again. For every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.”**

“Our culture has become engulfed in its past and can make no use of it at all.”*

-Krystal Taylor

* Jim Lewis **Walter Benjamin Broadway Cinema, 14 Broad Street, Nottingham Thursday 2nd September - Wednesday 29th September Sun-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 12noon-11pm, ends Sep 29 • free

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