In recent times the Academy has co-presented major exhibitions with no less than six international art venues, from Basel & Munich, Germany to America and South Africa. Continuing the Academy’s remit of garnering recognition for Irish artists abroad and forging dynamic links with art institutions, Patrick T. Murphy, RHA has co-curated an exhibition of work by Eileen Neff with Ingrid Schaffner of the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.
“Using the camera, the computer, and the space of the studio, Eileen Neff poetically reconstructs moments experienced outside of it. Clouds move from outdoors to in. Windows appear as apertures onto completely other places. The landscape doubles but does not mirror itself. A blur of motion is bifurcated by one strangely still tree. These arresting images show how unfamiliar the world can be. To cut these moments out of the flow of events and images that daily surround us, Neff uses the camera like scissors. And as the early works in this exhibition demonstrate, her practice is essentially connected to collage. Cul de Sac (1996) is literally a cutout: a photograph shaped like an armchair upon which is enthroned a tree. This work also conveys an essential theme in Neff’s work: the collapse between interior and exterior spaces and conditions. More recently, the use of digital technology has made the cut-and-paste aspect of Neff’s work more seamless and complex. However, she also has a knack for finding images that look constructed. The trees in the 2007 photograph Summer (The Couple) were seen as they appear, embracing each other in a field. Humor is a quiet, but constant component of Neff’s art, in which scale and shape also play important roles. Slipping Glimpse (2006) is a narrow one-inch wide photograph that visually references the Abstract Expressionist painter Barnett Newman’s famous “zips.” The writings of Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau are some of the other touchstones for this deeply intelligent and beautiful work.” ICA, Philadelphia 2007.
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A full colour catalogue accompanies this exhibition with an essay by Jeremy Sigler.