Green on Red

Gerard Byrne

25 Mar - 25 Apr 2009

© Gerard Byrne
1984 and Beyond
Selenium-toned silver gelatin print
8 x 10in
"One year, six months, two weeks and four days ago"

25 Mar - 25 Apr 2009

Green On Red Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Gerard Byrne. One year, six months, two weeks and four days ago, an exhibition of photographic and filmic works is formed around a combination of disparate reference points; large photographs of newsstands showing now outdated magazines, photographs of the reverse of Old Master paintings, a film of two women handling glass and stone pieces with exacting precision, and eclectic small photographs that seem to present America in another time. In different subtle ways the works exhibited accumulate a set of questions about the interrelationship of time and representation. The works presented, whilst intentionally diverse and distinct in their ambitions, collectively reinforce a sense of the relationship between photography and time; of how photographic images chronicle time and are simultaneously subject to time.

Magazines have been an important source in Byrne’s work. He has re-staged and filmed interviews from popular magazines and has for a number of years photographed various newsstands. The cultural artifice of these inanimate objects mirror the way in which a collective cultural moment is constructed through its mediation. With a nod to Walker Evans photographs of newsstands from the Great Depression era, Byrne’s works counter the flux of clamouring imagery with singular photographic prints. Each of these unique works is re-titled on each occasion it is exhibited to narrate in prose the time between the the moment depicted in the photograph, and the time of its subsequent exhibition.

In the three photographs of the reverse of framed Old Master paintings, Byrne investigates the connections between photography and painting, and the archival function of the museum. The works, all of which are in the Statens Museum collection in Copenhagen have an art historical starting point, referencing Gijsbrecht’s 17th century painting The reverse of a Framed painting, which itself is one of the paintings Byrne has photographed. Using the Gijsbrechts painting as an artistic model, Byrne's works elucidate the schism Gijsbrechts has depicted, between object and image, subject and object, artwork and artifact.

This interrogation of the archive and the function of the museum are continued in the film piece ‘68 Mica & Glass (a Demonstration on Camera by Workers from the State Museum). The film work depicts two conservators from the Statens Museum, Copenhagen, working on the sculpture Untitled, 1968 (Mica & Glass) by the celebrated American artist Robert Smithson. Smithson's work, an allegory of the finitude of history in the face of geological time, is here depicted in a vulnerable state, being maintained by museum conservators. Byrne's work, which has no beginning or end, further echoes these contingencies of temporality by using a motion sensor to directly connect its projected duration to the presence of a viewer.

Byrne’s work with text and image allows for a myriad of interpretations and adds to ongoing debates about historical contextualization. The role of representation and perception is continually veiled and unveiled throughout his film and photographic works allowing for an open-ended reflection on the role representation plays in the construction of temporality.

Tags: Gerard Byrne, Walker Evans