“The embodiment of the psychological experience and the nature of the somatic response is the underlying theme in this work. It addresses issues concerning how the body absorbs, holds and disguises illness.
“I have adopted the aesthetic of the 1950s medical apparatus with reference to Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Accumulator. In the form of a cabinet, it was designed to absorb and conduct biological energy through alternating layers of wool and steel onto a concentrated inner surface where this energy could then be passed to an occupying body. Reich believed this raised energy level was capable of unblocking a trauma or attacking an illness.
“I have adapted elements of Reich’s research to construct Hold Still in which such an energy transfer is possible, not to necessarily treat an illness but to act as a catalyst. Press Pause may be experienced as a Faraday cage, a form of protection from electromagnetic signals, while the adapted cow brush in Shed Skin references the importance of physical contact for human and animal wellbeing. Incorporating print on film, paper, textile and metal these analogue constructions offer a deeper level of participation to the viewer.
“Presented as a quasi-therapeutic experience, The Shell/ters facilitates engagement through the perceived solemnity and gadgetry of their constructions. That they can be interpreted as sanctuary or prison is a point of contention and within this ambiguity lies their power. It is the indefinability that exists in something both alluring and forbidding that excites, especially when there is a potential for the unexpected.”
– Artist Statement by Niamh McGuinne