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Gerard Byrne Case Study Loch Ness (Some possibilities and problems) at MK Gallery

In his first major solo exhibition in a UK public gallery, Gerard Byrne (born Dublin 1969) will present the culmination of ten years of research around the Loch Ness Monster. Laced with subtle humour and a degree of ambiguity, ‘Case Study: Loch Ness’ appropriates the tropes of an archetypal conceptual art exhibition, including the iconic forms of Richard Long, Giuseppe Penone, Robert Smithson and Marcel Broodthaers. Exhibition on view 14 January – 3 April 2011.

In this project, Byrne blurs the lines between fiction and documentary to examine how images inform our understanding of myth and reality. The surface of the loch becomes a screen onto which fears and fantasies are projected or a murky lens, which inflects reality with dark undertones. Intrinsic to any account of this subject, is a story of make-believe, fabrication and hoaxes – a famous historic photograph of the monster which turned out to be a toy submarine; others of drifting wood. Through his own footage and research, Byrne questions the ways in which images are constructed, transmitted and mediated and asks: is it possible to capture an image of something that does not exist?

Drawing on his accumulated archive of Loch Ness Monster related photographs, film and audio footage drawn from original sightings of the monster, excerpts from ‘eyewitness’ accounts and other texts, Byrne draws direct parallels between one of the world’s most enduring modern myths and the rise of commercial mass media. Coinciding with the popularisation of psychoanalysis and the advance of Surrealism in the UK, intense media interest around the monster developed in the 1930s, with papers like the Daily Mail fuelling a frenzy of interest in order to sell papers.

In addition to eighty of Byrne’s photographs, the exhibition comprises a new film, ‘Figures’, composed of material gathered around Loch Ness, played to the sound of eyewitness descriptions. This work provides documentary evidence of the fauna of Loch Ness and various examples of gestalt forms that evoke a persistently primeval presence in the region. Varying in scale, the photographs feature landscapes and landscape details, newspaper front covers, texts, and photographs of original material, all relating to the Loch Ness monster. Large-scale, gnarled tree sculptures will also be displayed, cut in cross section to show their growth rings, to provide a visual and textural contrast to the minimalist aesthetic in the other galleries.

Artist Information

Born in Dublin in 1969, Byrne is regarded as amongst the most critically important artists of his generation. His work frequently reconstructs historically charged conversations about the future originally published in popular magazines from the 1960s – 1980s in order to test their resonance in the present. He explores the historical locations of these moments and the spaces in which they are presented, blurring the lines between past and present, fiction and documentary. The artist lives and works in Dublin.

In 2007 Byrne represented Ireland in the Venice Biennale. Other major presentations of his work at international biennials include Gwangju and Sydney in 2008, Lyon in 2007, the Tate Triennial in 2006 and the Istanbul Biennale in 2003. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the ICA Boston and the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (both 2008), Düsseldorf Kunstverein, the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver (2007), the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2003) and at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2002). In 2006 he was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn award. A recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship (1994), Byrne was awarded the prestigious PS1 studio award in 1997-98 and graduated from the Whitney Independent Study Programme in 1999.

Gerard Byrne is represented by:
Green On Red Gallery, Dublin
Lisson Gallery, London
Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm

MK Gallery receives core annual funding from Arts Council England and Milton Keynes Council.

MK Gallery
900 Midsummer Boulevard
Milton Keynes, MK9 3QA
+44 (0) 1908 676 900
[email protected]

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