Eoghan Ryan

‘And No Animal is Without Enemy’ @ Cubitt Gallery reviewed

19 April 2016

Warm with borrowed beer on the hard concrete floor, I just arrived back to London having watched the car crash of the Conservative second term —austerity cuts upon austerity cuts —from mainland Europe. On Facebook and in Peckham, feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut “WANTED: George Osbourne, For Destroying Women’s Services” posters. On the walls of Cubitt, sewn banners —“Disabled People Against The Cuts” —part of A Public Resource, a programme curated by Morgan Quaintance as a support and space for correspondence between art and activism.  

In this context the ‘And No Animal Is Without An Enemy’ reading at the end of March was about survival. Writer Megan Nolan conceived tonight’s series of reading-performances with reference to psychiatrist R. D. Laing, author of The Divided Self, from which the title is drawn. “Considered biologically, the very fact of being visible exposes an animal to the risk of attack from its enemies”, writes Laing. This evening each reader makes themselves visible, stands up before friends, or enemies, or strangers, or all three, and their texts act as both an unveiling and a camouflage.

Nolan has set the night’s premise as an “unravelling of assumed positions; to question what the self can mean to a disembodied subject …what it means to refuse the belief that you are alive.” Writing and finding the self in the city, finding sex in the city, following sex through different cities, finding oneself in friendships, misunderstanding ourselves in friendships, misunderstanding or abandoning oneself. Hiding oneself from oneself, or baring one’s teeth to oneself, one’s soul.

'And No Animal is Without Enemy' (2016) @ Cubitt, London. Courtesy the gallery.
‘And No Animal is Without Enemy’ (2016) @ Cubitt, London. Courtesy the gallery.

Nolan reads first and her claim of the first person is incisive, as in cutting, and traumatic, as in digging-up-the-real. She sits cross-legged on the floor, wiping her hands therapeutically with a wet cloth, turning A4 sheets on which are excerpts of her novel-in-process. It is the first basic mistake to assume that the ‘I’ is the author or the performer, because anyway, every ‘I’ is constructed; every ‘I’ a protection of insides or a gathering together of selves. Still, here the ‘I’ feels close.

There is much to dislike about the term “confessional writing”, it turns quickly onto shame, unless, as Juliet Jacques advocates, you treat it as “a form of performance art”. But Megan grew up in Ireland, and begins tonight with Jesus. I think of the scene in The Devil Probably by Robert Bresson where the foppish protagonist injects heroin in the chapel and empties the bronze of the donation box onto the floor. Chinking metal on cold stone. There are scratches, scars, blue bruises, running blood, running away over Hampstead Heath, in Nolan’s text; there is sex and self-disgust. Having always read her pieces curled in private, it is hard to hear them spoken into the air, however adamantly. But the text is her survival, and like a good sermon there are jokes.

'And No Animal is Without Enemy' (2016) @ Cubitt, London. Courtesy the gallery.
‘And No Animal is Without Enemy’ (2016) @ Cubitt, London. Courtesy the gallery.

It is a relief to laugh! Penny Goring has a ditty on people and body parts, disses of perineums and rectums sung in beautiful cockney glottal stops. ‘Temporary Passport’ is a bohemian mythology of being on the road in Europe in the 70s or 80s: brawls in Brussels, begging on the beach in Nice, sheets of cardboard and methadone wings. There’s the leftover scent of a pink vibrator last brandished above his shining head (now in a drawer with a collection of colonoscopy bags). There are fears —of illness, age, and herself, her addictions.

Rachel Benson’s poems are also really funny, such that I won’t recreate them here; the stuff of self-deprecating stand-up in free verse, body image and moments with BFFs. A tiny cactus given as a gift, but better, says the narrator, would be a gift that could be eaten and digested, “to defecate the bad feelings between us.” (I’m paraphrasing.)

Self-deprecation is often affected in Eoghan Ryan’s performances, which play on the presence, or exposure, of the artist and their body in a “don’t mind me while you’re looking at me” kind of way. Tonight he represents the divided ‘self’ in relation to close ‘others’ via fragments of narrative, pre-written and improvised; his image, mediated through his favoured interface of the Skype camera; and his body, hunched before the projector. At first it sounds as though he’s constructing an average male passage from adolescence to adulthood, beginning with a clip from an Arsenal game, going back to photographs from his also Irish youth, which he talks us through flatly …the T-shirt he’s wearing, the hairstyle he had …with interludes of Johnny Cash’s band’s Here We Are Again as comedic accompaniment.

Linda Stupart, @ 'And No Animal is Without Enemy' (2016). Courtesy the artist.
Linda Stupart, @ ‘And No Animal is Without Enemy’ (2016). Courtesy the artist.

But soon the plot becomes darker, stranger, and possibly no less true. We hear about an old friend, on SSRIs, anti-depressants; we see CCTV footage of this friend, sort of friend, buying knives; then we hear how one day the guy turns up at his ex-girlfriend’s house and stabs her, nine times, along with her then partner, who dies. No animal is without an enemy, no story is without fabrication, no Eoghan Ryan performance is complete without an awkward exposure of flesh. The body always intervenes, even if it he doesn’t want it to, now undressed and redressed. He changes his pants, flashes his ass, and trips as he exits over the seated spectators, muttering “sorry, so sorry”.

In Linda Stupart’s finale, we are taken beyond the animal self to rocks, crystals and viruses. They read from their recent book Virus (Arcadia Missa)the parts on Ana Mendieta’s murder by her husband and no. 1 enemy, Carl Andre. Images of the late artist’s work in blood and water appear rhythmically, along with Stupart’s gutsy collages and graphic mineral shapes. They end with a video recording of a spell cast from Virus, “To Bind Male Artists From Killing You”, re-incanting the words while covered in projected patterns of squiggly virus strains. We are looped back to Laing’s words: “We all employ some form of [magical] camouflage.”**

The ‘And No Animal is Without Enemy’ group event was on at  at London’s Cubitt Gallery on March 31, 2016.

Header image: Eoghan Ryan @ ‘And No Animal is Without Enemy’ (2016). Courtesy the artist.


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Eoghan Ryan @ Rowing, Mar 23 – Apr 2

21 March 2016

Artist Eoghan Ryan will present solo show, Behind Sedentary at London’s Rowing opening March 23 and running April 2.

The accompanying text to the show is long and begins by detailing different types of drowning and the different experiences of dying in accordance, before moving on to describing a dream about two young children trying to survive drowning in a pail of milk, too shallow to be near the top of the pail and too deep to rest without sinking.

Ryan, whose work spans imagery, installation, performance and video —the latter two often combined in complex pieces that almost avoid language and explanation —has recently shown work in Citizen, the group screening event at Chisenhale Gallery and performed in Plural Melts at Berlin’s Yvonne Lambert.

During the first week of Behind Sedentary there will be an ongoing performance in the gallery running March 23 to 26 featuring Lukas Amend and Zuzanna Ratajczyk, who also performed at Plural Melts with Ryan earlier this year.

See the exhibition page for more details**

Eoghan Ryan, Are You Trying to Make Me Say The Word (2015), as presented on the artists website. Courtesy the artist.
Eoghan Ryan, Are You Trying to Make Me Say The Word (2015), screenshot, as presented on the artists website. Courtesy the artist.



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Citizen @ Chisenhale Dance, Mar 5

4 March 2016

An “exploded film screening” called Citizen is happening at London’s Chisenhale Dance on March 5.

As the latest instalment of the bi-monthly series Please Stand By, this film, performance, and sound event is curated by Taylor Le Melle and features work by the likes of Sondra PerryEoghan RyanBenito Mayor Vallejo and Imran Perretta.

The event is set to explore how “realities are constructed within a mediatised society”, through presentations by artists placing their work at the blurry intersection between fiction and reality. Time, linearity and simultaneity are all themes to be addressed in an evening that interrogates cinema and theatre as a narrative tool, and also features work by James Clarke, Rebecca Glover, Calvin Laing, Stephanie MannLeonor Serrano Rivas and Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa.

See the Please Standby website for details.**

Eoghan Ryan, 'Oh wicked flesh!' (2013). Film still. Image courtesy of the artist.
Eoghan Ryan, ‘Oh wicked flesh!’ (2013). Film still. Image courtesy of the artist.

Header image: Imran Perretta, ‘om’ (2016). Video still. Courtesy the artist.

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Plural Melts @ Yvonne Lambert, Feb 20 – Mar 5

22 February 2016

The Plural Melts – Dunmore Caves group exhibition is on at Berlin’s Yvonne Lambert, opening February 20 and running March 5.

Organised to run at the gallery throughout 2016, Plural Melts is an intermittent programme of events and performances arranged by artists Zuzanna Ratajczyk and Eoghan Ryan. Dunmore Caves features works by Stephan Backes, Jassem Hindi, Clemence de La Tour du Pin, Andrzej Ratajczyk, Antoine Renard, Daniel Shanken, Andrew Munks & Richard Sides and Viktor Timofeev. 

There is limited information given with Dunmore Caves, apart from a poster that the gallery have posted in the Facebook event, which outlines a conversation between Darth Vader and a canteen worker -as imagined in Eddie Izzard’s mind.

On February 20 at the opening event, Backes and Timofeev performed in the space and this coming Saturday 27, Hindi and Shanken will perform. It will be interesting to see how these artists, not all of whom necessarily have performance-based practices, will be brought together in live pairings and moments across the event.

See the Yvonne Lambert event page for (limited) details**

Zuzanna Ratajczyk, Pureness, performance still (2015). Courtesy Import Projects and the artist
Zuzanna Ratajczyk, Pureness, performance still (2015). Courtesy Import Projects and the artist.
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Jack Brindley + Eoghan Ryan @ Chisenhale Gallery, Nov 22

20 November 2014

Chisenhale Gallery is hosting Recent MA Graduate Artist Presentations, featuring Jack Brindley and Eoghan Ryan, at their London location on November 22.

The event, which is hosted by fellow artist Athena Papadopoulos as a part of her one-year studio award at Chisenhale, brings together the two recent graduates – Bridley from RCA in 2013 and Ryan from Goldmisths in 2012.

The discussion comes as the second in Papadopoulos’s series, and each event takes whatever form the contributing artists believe will create further dialogue and provide a platform for experimentation. The talk will be followed by a reception on the patio, weather permitting.

See the exhibition FB page for details. **


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Eoghan Ryan @ SLG reviewed

14 March 2013

There’s more than a fleeting concern for the body beautiful in Goldsmiths Fine Art graduate, Eoghan Ryan’s Oh wicked flesh!. The culmination of a six-month artist residency at The South London Gallery, it’s an ambitious installation, working across media, that maximises the limited space to critique contemporary concerns with appearance, while commenting on the role of public art today.

Fittingly then, the viewer’s first encounter with the installation at the top of a stairwell, is a printed, stone façade copying the motif of Henry Moore’s newly restored sculpture in Kensington Gardens. Its historical significance mirrors Moore’s own concern for human endurance and his sculpture’s role as public art but, most importantly, it constructs a clear ‘entrance’ from the door frame.

An interior space lies behind it, wallpapered black with a pattern of flames and burns, in contrast to the airy sunlit room next door, where a goldfish bowl and posters are neatly ordered.  Here, chaos reigns. As each frame of a video appears on an ultra widescreen projection, a loud click airs, announcing a step further into Ryan’s narrative, and a step away from the outside world. Footage bombards the viewer. At times one video directly layers over the other and it’s hard to see how the stories relate. A shot of bees pollinating flowers, an elderly woman in a hospital bed, even a dog show where several hands stroke a hairless canine. It’s tiring to follow but as the dialogue evolves, so too does the critical nature of Oh wicked flesh!. As a comment on Western Dualism’s belief in the mind-body divide, genetics and characteristics come to light.

Eoghan Ryan, 'Oh wicked flesh!' (2013). Film still. Image courtesy of the artist.
Eoghan Ryan, ‘Oh wicked flesh!’ (2013). Film still. Image courtesy of the artist.

Paper definitions of human body parts are splayed with descriptions of animals. Boxing matches are cut up by clips from dog shows and, as one of the breeder’s jumpers declares, the whole thing appears ‘Barking Mad’. Nonsensical, yet somehow incredibly relevant. At one point we see a man praying in a church. At another, a scan of a human body tracking liquid-flow to the stomach; a sharp visual contrast between Christian beliefs in a spiritual existence to those of modern medicine. It’s a deliberately inconclusive illustration.

“Going backwards and forwards, just trying to see if I resemble something human,” murmurs the central figure’s voice. He paints stripes similar to the dogs’ on his body and then comically changes his behaviour by openly pissing like the dog in a previous clip. Ultimately, the exterior appears to mean nothing at all, a fish is shown with the same stripes as him and the dog, mouthing aimlessly, trapped behind the glass of its tank. Then one of Henry Moore’s bronze sculptures, located near the South London Gallery at the Brandon Housing Estate, also appears in the film. Hidden behind corrugated iron, perhaps it’s to prevent it being stolen for its value as scrap metal, or simply to prevent damage to the public it was originally intended to please. Art’s worth appears fleeting, as do our looks.

Oh wicked flesh! runs at The South London Gallery from Tuesday, March 5 to Sunday May 12, 2013.

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