Artist Mark Clare has, over the last six years, consistently explored issues of social value in his work. Using video and photography to record a myriad of public interventions, Clare seeks to provoke and agitate our social conscience. In One Man’s Terror is Another Man’s Freedom we see the artist mount a one man demonstration in a public square in Vasa, Finland using the traditional methods of protest – a placard and pamphlet.
The exhibition at the RHA will include video recordings of this intervention as well as the video works Next Level, The Perfect Human and A New Kind of King. Supporting material will also be included.
Clare adds: “At a time when the erosion of freedom of speech and expression is propagated by a post 9/11 politics of fear, the topic of art is not an easy one. How is art responding to, what is art doing in light of the world’s high alert on global terrorism? With the project One Man’s Terror is Another Man’s Freedom, 2006 I have endeavoured to return to the questions regarding the nature of the relationship between art and culture, or between art and society.”
The video work Next Level explores the phenomenon of ‘cutters’ (people who experience an irresistible urge to cut themselves or otherwise hurt themselves) and suicide bombers and the desire both individuals have to locate themselves within some form of perceived reality. The secretive nature of the cutter’s actions is turned on its head as he performs to camera while CCTV footage of a Palestinian woman attempting to detonate an explosive belt is played on a second screen.
In The Perfect Human, 2006, we hear clearly from the narrator that the, “perfect human can move in a room. The room is boundless and radiant with light. It is an empty room. There are no boundaries”. But we see something else entirely. Strangely at odds with the text, Clare stands on a wooden box in a cluttered, dimly lit, claustrophobic room. The paradox renders plaintive the categorical statements of the narrator. The soundtrack is doleful from the start. By the end, the whole episode is tragicomic.
Similar pathos is to be seen in A New Kind of King, also 2006. The narrator returns with the same impossible declarations. This time, Clare is a pretend gymnast, raised up by a collaborator, circus-style, only to fall down moments later. “Look at him fall, this is how he falls”. Once again, the action is inane, the voice-over strangely sententious, the soundtrack humorously mournful.
Mark Clare was born in London in 1968. He completed a BA in Fine Art in St. Martin’s College of Art and Design (1992), London before completing an MA in Fine Art at the University of Ulster (2004). He has had several solo shows including, most recently, Nothing is Out Of Place, Oberpfälzer, Schwandorf, Germany, 2006; and Know Thyself, Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin, 2005 and Queen St Gallery, Belfast, 2006. He has also shown in Japan, China and Norway.
Upcoming shows include a solo exhibition in the Gallery of Photography, Another Day in My Kingdom, April 2007 that documents the daily routine of five international aid workers; Of Other Spaces, the Context Gallery, Derry and Free Money, the Peacock Visual Arts Centre, Aberdeen, 2007.
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