Epic drama and ritualistic role-play collide in Aoibheann Greenan’s fetishistic reinterpretation of Wagner’s Ring-Cycle operas. George Bernard Shaw’s essay The Perfect Wagner Rite provides the pretext for the artist’s self-reflexive parody.
Her bawdy operetta both reveals and heightens the cultural voyeurism implicit in the latter. BDSM, Cabaret, Bavarian Folk Art, Techno, Krautrock and Neue Deutsche Harte add grist to the Germanophile mill, inspiration for an experimental live score and a host of extravagant props. Greenan makes explicit the process of heritage commodification by which cultural themes come to be evaluated, primarily in terms of their exchange value.
In a play on the German composer’s mythological refabrication, Greenan’s Gesamtkunstwerk is enacted by a pseudo-Wagnerian cult whose deviant practices draw heavily on the Ring-Cycle for legitimation. Flanking their ceremonial ground are a monumental Wagnerian effigy and a replica of Shaw’s rotating writing shed, seemingly animated by the writer’s phantom voice. As narrator and cult-leader Greenan oscillates between these structures, playfully challenging the authority of the two cultural giants. Her ambiguous use of the word ‘Master’ calls into question the shifting focus of authorship in the act of interpretation. This position is further obfuscated by a mock-initiation ceremony in which chosen ‘participants’ become sutured within Greenan’s highly mediated ritual.
Greenan graduated from NCAD in 2010 with a first-class honours degree in Fine Art Painting. Since then she has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Her work has been selected for solo exhibitions in institutions such as the Wexford Arts Center (forthcoming); Import Projects, Berlin; Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin; RHA, Dublin; Project Arts Centre, Dublin and Roscommon Arts Centre. In 2012, Greenan’s work was selected for EVA International, Limerick, curated by Annie Fletcher. Most recently she has been invited to exhibit her work at Circle Music and Art Festival in Reykjavik and The KW Institute in Berlin. Greenan has been awarded residencies at SIM, Reykjavik; SOMA, Mexico City and Chateau de Servieres, Marseilles. She has been the recipient of the Fire Station Sculpture Workshop Award and the Temple Bar Gallery Studio Award. She has received bursaries from Culture Ireland, Arts Council Ireland and Fingal Arts Council.