Des Kenny Reviews Theresa Nanigian - not sorry
14 September 2012
Theresa Nanigian’s exhibition is situated in the Ground Floor Gallery of Draíocht. Titled “not sorry”, it is an exploration and insight into the lives and thoughts of teenage existence. The show entails cards with text and large photos. Theresa had placed a box in the foyer where teenagers could deposit their thoughts anonymously over the past year.
They were then collected and edited to a degree and printed onto card and placed on a corner wall. There are 65 cards which float in space slightly away from the wall. It all seems so reassuring; the cards written in lower case text, neatly placed forming a large rectangle. Capital letters are avoided, so one idea is supplanted by another. Then you begin to read - unearthed is a substrata of teenage consciousness. Swept along in a cascading torrent of teenage hopes, fears, triumphs and dreams, which although belonging to different personalities, they are connected by one emotional force - teenage angst.
At times uplifting and poignant “i am in love with penguins” and then disturbing,”I am afraid of dying” and “i wish my Dad had stayed”, to dreams awaiting fulfilment “i want to be a writer”. It is as if the electrical conduit conducting emotional life is not insulated and this sparks, burns and ignites the very air and space teenagers inhabit. Every neuron in the brain is firing together, creating a boundless thought storm.
The other theme of the show is large scale photos about 6x6 feet, investigating in loving detail, teenager’s bedrooms. These photos are fixed directly onto the wall with adhesive so the photo and wall occupy the same surface space. Creating the illusion of deep space on the gallery wall where the viewer becomes immersed in the content. The eye is sucked into photographic space and engages with every item, knowing this will reveal and describe the inner life of the teenager. Each bedroom is a portrait without the sitter’s presence. Their absence amplifies the space into a psychological realm in which we search for clues of identity. Barbells denote a masculine presence; pop stars festooned on walls indicate a female inhabitant. Clothes are scattered on floors with school books and chaos reigns.
On one wall is a large photo about 12 x 12feet in size and denotes a bedroom of a female. The composition hints at understanding by the artist of renaissance architecture and perspective. The bed takes centre stage and left and right are two wardrobes standing like two roman columns. The ceiling, an angled dome covered in graffiti arches over a tempestuous domain of a young female, stating her own individual persona. On the walls concert tickets mingle with pop stars and illegible written statements. A palm print declares ownership on a wardrobe door, a primordial display as found in caves of our distant ancestors. Yet the most telling psychological statement is found on the top of the wardrobes, all the childhood cuddly toys reside in plain view. Put away but not hidden, the childhood connection not yet severed.
Jacinta Shannon & daughter Sophie Shannon (owner of featured bedroom).
Under Theresa Nanigian’s gentle direction the participants grant us a glimpse into the heart rending turmoil of teenage life. The photographs, like continuity stills in films, denote the placement of each object on the set is correct and we await the actors return to act out their lines from the textual wall. We are granted permission to view their private realm as they reach out towards adult life. Theresa’s refined eye illuminates this endeavour and we leave the exhibition with a smile.
Read more about Theresa Nanigian here …
Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.
Des Kenny, Rosie Fay and President of Ireland Mary McAleese