Odds and ends make random beauty at Shuffle

Everyone can appreciate good art that blends, that flows, that parallels in subject and form and matter. But what happens when you put on a show with none of that? A show that is deliberately random? Well, then you get Shuffle, the brilliant exhibition on now at No 1 Merchants Road.

Part of TULCA 2008, a celebration of visual arts in Galway, Shuffle, is just one of the exhibitions exploring this year’s theme of i-podism: Cultural Promiscuity in the Age of Consumption.

Curated by George Bolster i-podism is based on the idea that technology is changing the face of art and that iPods, as well as the newer counterpart, the iPhone, are becoming forms of miniature portfolios with a great soundtrack. Shuffle, then, is a take on an iPod setting which allows a listener to hear randomly selected songs from throughout their playlist. The exhibition, much like the setting on the music player, is a collection of separate works that "are the culmination of a particular period of time" but actually have no particular correlation to one another. And you won't need to tell the viewers twice. From plastic-masked 'Spirit Girls' to newspaper collections to clamping contraptions and a distorted 'rear-view', the exhibitions has art to appease, and sometimes offend, all, from some of the best national and international names in art.

Entering the exhibition you can't help but notice the scratchy mumbling coming from the other side of the room, yet your eye will be automatically drawn to the large bright orange blanket tacked to the wall. Moving closer a menacing cut out face will stare back at you, the work of Dublin-based artist Alan Phelan, who aptly entitled the work 'Phantom Blanket'. Continuing on you are momentarily drawn away from the voice once more when you reach American artist Suzanne Wright's 'Choo Choo', which could be described as no less than an interesting (and slightly disturbing ) take on the posterior region. Tom Molloy, an Irish artist whose work tends to revolve around American culture, economics, politics, and military, comes up next with his intriguing 'Covenant', an acrylic case filled with books about globalisation, Al Qaeda, and terrorism, and making somewhat of a mistaken connection, Joey Kotting, a British-American artist, brings an inkjet collage next with a strong message in '(Please stop telling me how to ) F**KING THINK'.

Located in the back corner of the gallery, we finally find the voice, in what could be seen as the centrepiece of the exhibition 'Art/Not Art', a portable collection that is, in itself, a collision of works by different artists, who all came together to make the piece. The grainy recording we quickly learn is a rare discovery, and the voice is that of John Glenn during his 1962 NASA expedition when he became the first man to orbit the earth.

Try not to stop for hours in amazement at the perfection (and readability ) that is Gavin Murphy's 'Sketches for a Light/Heavy Monument', as you make your way to the other side of the gallery. Stepping inside the darkened theatre the unusual figures on the screen will be alarming, and admittedly somewhat frightening, as you settle in to watch Los Angeles' Marine Weber, donning a creepy plastic mask, star in her work 'A Western Song'. An unusual take on maturity, leaving home, and moving on, the film interweaves comedy, musicality, old Western, and some odd references to bestiality. And this is all within 24 minutes. Oh but what a way to end the show.

TULCA 2008's Shuffle is now showing and runs until November 23 at No 1 Merchants Road. For more information on this exhibition or on any of the events taking place throughout the city visit www.tulca.ie


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