Temple Bar Gallery and Studios presents Tabling a Motion Motioning a Table, a collaborative project by Belfast artists Philip Napier and Mike Hogg. While continuing to maintain separate art practices Napier and Hogg have worked together on a number of projects in recent years. Tabling a Motion has its origins in an ongoing three year public commission for Craigavon Borough Council, which began early last year. A series of collaborative exhibitions and events has evolved from this, focused around aspects of negotiated and participatory practice in the public realm. Much of this work came together in The Soft Estate Hogg/Napier’s collaborative exhibition presented in the Golden Thread Gallery in summer 2006. Another manifestation became a centrepiece at the I confess project run by Interface at the University of Ulster in November/December 06. Elements from both these events can be seen here at Temple Bar Gallery but the Dublin context further expands the post conflict landscape where the logic of economy is a powerful driver.
Central to the identity of the project is the negotiating table but the sagging expanse that separates both ends models more the gaps and distances that ‘negotiation’ so often involves rather than any easy consensus. The table will function as both subject and active object in the exhibition assisting in the talk and discussions that will take place in and outside of the gallery at stages over the period of the exhibition. There are further tables which occur, documents of commercial intelligence used for product placement but also facilitating a demographic for the targeting of political messages. The re-formatted tables are constructed in the language of the urban, measuring lifestyle and economic ability. They may prompt some questions for individuals, as to how they might like to identify or even counter describe themselves in the context of a rapidly changing Ireland. Writer Declan Long has noted that ’a crucial focus for Napier and Hogg is on the gaps and exclusions that necessarily occur within the heavily administered systems of a shifting society…’ Whether that society is Belfast or Dublin seems irrelevant in view of the now entirely dominant social branding that glosses over intrinsic identities even as it reconfigures and stratifies.
Hogg/Napier’s work can be understood as relational in as far as that term has come to describe a type of associative art practice that deliberately seeks to engage while usually operating from the premise that ‘social reality is the product of negotiation and democracy’. But here there is a critical relationship to what might seem like an almost utopian premise for problem solving in the familiar use of the table/negotiating tool as a site for an assumed ‘civil exchange’. They buck the trend quite literally with the inclusion of a swirling seething mechanism, an animated table that presents a magnification of the tense undercurrents that underpin political exchange and negotiation. As Rosalind Deutsche has aptly remarked ‘democracy itself is an extremely embattled concept’.
Michael Hogg was born in Belfast where he continues to live and work. He has been a director and member of Flaxart Studios since its development as a charitable company in 1991. In 2005, he was one of fifteen artists who represented N. Ireland in the 51st Venice Biennale. Hogg has exhibited work throughout Ireland, Europe and U.S.A.. Most recently he has shown in ‘Dogs Have No Religion’ at the Czech Museum of Fine Arts, Prague and in ‘Tides’, the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.
Philip Napier is currently the Head of Sculpture (acting) at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. He has a wide range of experience in the field of contemporary art as an artist practitioner, manager and teacher and in working with other design professionals in challenging public environments. He has sat on public commission selection panels both as artist, commissioner and advisor. Napier represented Ireland in the XXII Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil, and Great Britain at the inaugural Kwangju Biennale in South Korea and continues to carry out projects internationally. He currently has a one man project on show at the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also a director of Flaxart Studios in Belfast
Exhibition Launch: Thursday 8th March 2007, 6-8pm
A panel discussion aims to laterally address the weighty issues explored by artists Napier and Hogg. Panel Discussion: “Art, Politics and Economics” 6.00pm, Wednesday 18th April 2007.