I Love Letterkenny, Letterkenny Loves Me
My interest for this piece was to address how public work can reach out to talk with the local populace, and to express directly, and in the artistic turn, an image of the social fabric in which we all live. This piece brings together this idea alongside the use of text as art, extending former aspects of my work.
The statement spelled is clearly intended as an absolutely crystal clear assertion of a sentiment, one that is more usually associated with the work of a tourist office, local council or marketing agency, advertising the wares of the area. Putting the work into neon brings into question the authenticity of the statement, and provokes its audience to question how and why this statement is being made, and of course by whom.
The question of course remains in the statement as well as the physical materialisation of the words; can the society to which this work speaks, identify and respond with an equal generosity of spirit, can they reciprocate the sentiment? The work does not pose the question in order to answer it, this is the open nature and generosity of the work, that lies not in the statement but in the exchange of feelings towards public art.
In my research on Donegal, I came upon the internationally renowned German artist Joseph Beuys , and the visit he made to the Giants Causeway. His interest in Ireland stemmed from a love of Joyce, and his interest in the spirituality and elemental aspects of the country, people and places.
In 1974, Beuys travelled to America to make a seminal performance work “COYOTE, I like America and America likes me”. Writing about this work he wrote, ‘I think I made contact with the psychological trauma point of the United States energy constellation’. The proposed work is clearly a long way from Beuys work, but seeks through its assertive verbal statement, to find an energy point that will energise and catalyse a social response, an icon and an image for broader social commentary.
Beuys famously declared “Everyone is an artist”. In making this statement he was not meaning this in the literal sense, but in the sense that society as a whole needs to address its problems and look for the ‘best possible form’, as a direct creative response to that situation. Whilst this work is not a tribute to Beuys, his ideas are useful when thinking about how to connect to a broader public, and in making a work that is generous, with an unambiguous affirmation. The question of course remains, can the society to which this work speaks, identify and respond with the same generosity of spirit. The question for the artist and the LIT is; is this work the best possible form?
The work is a 2 foot high neon sign installed across the façade of the building, which flicks from the statement,”I love Letterkenny”, to “Letterkenny loves me”.