press release

Gerard Byrne
Upon all the living and the dead.
February 1 – March 31, 2019

Gerard Byrne’s complex video installations and photographic series picture sometimes unlikely contemporaneities. Whether connecting museums with nature photography, or commercial radio shows with Minimalism, Byrne’s work begs questions about how our present is conjured into being only through the construction of its image. Using photography and video not as transparent artistic mediums, but rather as ready-made commercial imaging formats with embedded aesthetics, Byrne’s work has always embraced the overlapping realities of the TV studio and the gallery space. Art and the media industry have always cohabited in his thinking. And as such, Byrne’s work entertains open questions about how art could serve us as the stubborn artefact of histories that differ.

Among his best-known creations are the so-called “magazine works,” filmic reconstructions of discussions of progressive concerns and culturally relevant issues in vintage popular periodicals; most of them are sourced from 1960s and 1970s issues of magazines including Playboy, Interview, Le Nouvel Observateur, and National Geographic. Byrne is fascinated by the ephemeral quality of the publications and their contribution to the self-articulation and construction of bourgeois culture at a certain point in time.

In his exhibition Upon all the living and the dead. in Secession’s main exhibition hall, Byrne will present three major video installations from the last three years, examining the manifold relations between these very different works, Jielemeguvvie guvvie sjisjnjeli – Film Inside an Image (2016), In Our Time (2017), and his latest work, A Visibility Matrix (2018) – a complex 14-channel video installation authoured together with Byrne’s long-time collaborator Sven Anderson.

After completing his degree at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Gerard Byrne spent several years in New York, where he continued his training at the New School and later attended the Whitney Independent Study Program. He represented Ireland at the 2007 Venice Biennale and contributed work to documenta 13, Kassel, in 2012 and to the 2017 Skulptur Projekte Münster.