Cube Descending a Staircase
Commissioned for ‘Failure’, Kilkenny Arts Festival 2006
“I must admit that I went back at least five days to the Rose Garden
to see the Tar Sculpture by Tina O’Connell and was fascinated by the shapes
it took and by the diverse comments of passers-by.”
(The Munster Express, Kilkenny Arts Festival 2006).
How does Modernism fit into the Irish Vernacular, its history and traditions? As with much of my work, I draw on recognisable modernist forms, and relocate them into a context which challenges preconceptions. In this piece, the purity and universality as an assertion of the mid twentieth century art movement are challenged. Continuing my work with bitumen, I developed this public commission adjacent to Kilkenny Castle. The work which evoked Marcel Duchamps “Nude descending a staircase” (1913) was intended to give the public access to the idea of arts conceptual engagement with both the failure of modernism and forces such as gravity and time, movement as abstraction. Starting with the primary modernist form, set against a minimal yet almost plush white carpet on the exterior of the Castle, the work slowly slips down the staircase giving the viewer an entirely different perspective depending on when they saw the work, and indeed how many times. The contradiction between the modernism of the cube and the historic location gave the work a striking cinematic turn, reinforced by the presence of a very slowly moving image embodied in the material of the bitumen cube as it unfolded down the staircase.
The staircase was constructed using plywood before a deep pile white carpet was fitted. The cube of bitumen which was approximately 30 inches square, was cast by Irish Bitumen and released from its mould on the opening night.
Images are taken from the first few days of the installation whilst I was present still.