Ailve McCormack talks to artist Sally-Anne Kelly

November 14, 2011

In the lead up to the opening of Amharc Fhine Gall VIII - Unknown Knowns, curator Ailve McCormack talks to artist Sally Anne Kelly about the work she is exhibiting.

Next Ailve will be talking to Lisa Shaughnessy.


Sally-Anne Kelly


 Sally-Anne Kelly

Q: Can you tell me about the work you have made for this exhibition?

For this exhibition I am showing a selection of photographs from two new projects, ‘The Hunted Self’ and ‘The Detached Other’. Although they ended up in very different places both works are focused around the same ideas and themes.

One can see the inner hidden self as a double, capable of being projected through various media and platforms for constructing ones own identity, and perhaps splitting off from the subject and becoming its own being. The work in this exhibition explores these hidden selves. I am interested in the instability and inter-changeability of the self and the interior power struggle between these various selves.

Q: “Ideas about the uncanny” are something you refer to in your work, can you expand on this?

I have long been interested in unsettling, frightening ideas and a specific branch of these which Freud refers to as ‘the uncanny’, that which disturbs identity, system and order. I am interested in the uncanny as a sensory feeling with a physical reaction. The uncanny is related to what is frightening, a feeling of dread and uncertainty and is often seen as something familiar that has been altered somehow, made strange through the process of repression.

For me some of the most frightening aspects of the uncanny involve ideas concerning the double.

Q: You work a lot with identity and the ‘double’. Can you tell me a bit about this and where this came from?

I am currently preoccupied with exploring ideas about who we are, who we think we are, who we become, who others think we are, and who we present ourselves as being. These projected versions and the various representations of the self through the multiplication of identity and the double. I looked at the double and the other as a psychoanalytical subject. Before it is possible to discuss the double or the other, one must understand what this double is a reflection of. If I am talking about the other, then what is ‘the own’?

For me the double can refer to a representation of the ego that can assume various forms such as a shadow, reflection, a doppelganger or a distorted representation of the subject. I also think of the double as a version of the self, leading me to interests around multiple versions of the self and how we project these various selves around us through our actions and various media.

I think a lot about the instability and inter-changeability of the subject and all these alternating versions of the subject. The work in this exhibition looks at ideas around the possibilities of these interior selves coming out as alter egos and as an interior power struggle with this distorted version of the subject that can take off and being its own uncontrollable being or the idea of being controlled by another being within yourself.

Q: You talk about the “interior power struggle between these various selves”. How is this represented in your work?

When thinking about these various inner and projected selves I became interested in the power struggle between them. I’m interested in the idea of hidden selves fighting back against the ‘original’ and if it’s possible to even know the difference between them.

Dual consciousness and the splitting of the personality can be seen as an extreme form of the double. One thinks about the splitting of consciousness, the possibility of the darker parts of the consciousness breaking off from the subject in the unconscious but eventually reappearing as an evil double who wants to kill the original.

I’m interested in seeing this from the viewpoint of the ‘other’ or the double or whatever you want to see it as. Stories told from the viewpoint of this character are very interesting to me. I like setting up scenarios where these ignored characters come forward in different ways, sometimes aggressively, or just making their presence known.

Q: You work across various different media - film, photography, sculpture and theatre and performance art - can you talk a bit about how each of these media relate to and facilitate your work?

I find working collaboratively and in a wide variety of media an interesting way of pushing my practice forward. Seeing the various possibilities open to me and working with a wide variety of people gives an amazing influx of new ideas and things to try. My practice moves between photography, film, performance and theatre. I find that this helps me to avoid getting stuck in a rut with my work. If something’s not working it’s easy to let it go and move on with another project. Exploring my ideas through a variety of mediums forces me to look at them through new eyes, different constraints and possibilities.


More of Sally-Anne's work can be seen on her website


Looking forward to seeing the exhibition.

By Karen on December 1, 2011

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