Victoria J Dean, Lifeguard Station series (2012)

Victoria J Dean, Lifeguard Station series (2012)

There’s a comfortable synchronicity between the work of Niamh O’Doherty, Victoria J Dean and Laura Smith, whose photographs, films and drawings hang in this three person show. All are concerned with issues of boundaries, limits and edges. O’Doherty focuses on horizon lines in her video The Enlightenment, and shows panoramic and fragmented photographic landscapes alongside four handsome watercolour paintings of a red-beaked seabird in flight. Upstairs, Dean’s coolly understated photographs depict seaside structures from lifeguard stations to litter bins, bestowing an odd beauty and solemn significance on their ordinary presence. Smith’s film, When All is Said and Done, gives the show its thoughtful climax, jumping from personal narratives about love and relationships to Northern Ireland’s “peace” walls and the Diomede Islands’ Ice Curtain. She unifies these disparate elements with repeated reference to silence, secrets and barriers. Arguments “erupted in the difference between what was true and what we pretended was real,” says the voiceover as Smith slowly unravels a train of thought that connects memory and ideas of obliteration to the reality of personal suffering. It feels at first as though she has spread her net too wide, but the film succeeds because of its convincing amplification of the belief that everything political is personal and vice versa.

On the Border Between Time and Loss is at Galway Arts Centre until 26 February 2016

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