Des Kenny Reviews Carrier of Memories by Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske
9 July 2018
Carrier of Memories is an installation work created by Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske and is situated on the First Floor Gallery in Draíocht.
The large rectangular construction resembles storage crates utilised by shipping companies to transport household furniture from one country to another. The transported objects are the depositaries of memories from the past and will have fetish significance to help restore a sense of sanctuary in a new country. The wooden structure also resembles the prefabricated houses built currently to help solve the housing crises that are experienced by people in Ireland. The structure unveils layers of complex interpretation without imposing a singular viewpoint upon the gallery visitor. Two anonymous doors at opposite ends of the fabrication become points of arrival and departure for an interior space where time seems suspended, caught on a frozen threshold between memory and dreaming. The cocoon-like atmosphere is aided by the muffling of exterior sound with hanging grey blankets on the walls. The interior is uncluttered by furniture or heirlooms allowing the chamber to populate the visitors' imagination with discarded memories of their life experience of previous homes. Two speakers shroud the interior with a cacophony of sound that needs careful attention to interpret yet remains opaque affecting a mysterious atmosphere. Sounds of cars are interspersed with faint knocking on a door as if a visitor tried to gain attention with the householder but failed and drove away. The suppressed singing of the song” Tea for two, you for me” rises above chaotic clanging but stops suddenly when incessant knocking beats on a door. The door remains unanswered and the unknown caller slips away quietly into a trail of echoing indifference.
Myopic spy holes are inserted into the walls of the space, inviting the curious to view without detection the interior of the dwelling. Normally these eye ports are found on doors so the householder can quietly check out the caller waiting to gain entrance but the role is reversed and the visitor becomes a voyeur, hungrily gazing at the sinless lives of the occupants.
Outside a large video monitor is fixed to the wall and the artists Ella and Ulla act out roles of various homeowners, revealing aspects of private lives and tales of recalcitrant ghosts. Wearing a grey wig and old clothes Ella conveys a story of an old woman recalling a time when her third husband, humorously nicknamed Dynamite, was redecorating their new home. A previous owner had hung himself and appeared to the woman, requesting the house should remain undecorated. This aching appeal was ignored and the troubled spirit vanished once the decorations were completed. His shadowy afterlife was interwoven into the old fabric of the house and once removed he disappeared into the gloom of the forgotten. In another story, Ulla recalls as a child how a whole chicken disappeared mysteriously from the kitchen. Her mother believed her two young children had consumed the whole chicken but it was only later when the snows had melted and the bones of the chicken were discovered in the garden, that the mother surmised a cat had taken the chicken. The children were disbelieved and a bond of trust was broken for a time between parent and children. In another tale, Ulla recalls a young girl reminiscing about a dream where a large crane was about to destroy her house. She awoke suddenly, discovering she was sleepwalking and standing before an open window. The unconscious mind was trying to warn her of the danger as the open window would engulf and hurl her to a fatal destiny.
Home offers shelter primarily but also acts as a bridge between the psychical and the psychological realms where new memories are born and old ones haunt us.
Draiocht's Galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm. Admission is Free.
Carrier of Memories by Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske
Draíocht’s inaugural INCUBATE commission, curated by Sharon Murphy
First Floor Gallery
FRI 22 JUN - SAT 13 OCT 2018
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Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self-taught painter and 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 printmaking and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.