Wine Soak no. 12: “Telling Private Tales in Public Places”

Our Wine Correspondent Jakob Ligvine Kreek found himself unwittingly divulging private and possibly incriminating information at the ‘Implicate Collaborative’ exhibition, Implicated, in the MART Gallery space in the former fire station on Rathmines Road Lower.

As I was drifting back to Ligvine HQ, huddled beneath my beaten umbrella, the dark cold autumn evening of heavy clinging rain was working hard to dampen my spirits and the insatiable fire in my throat. I was drowning under the constant deluge that was whetting my appetite for some warm hospitality and a refreshing gargle. The encroaching winter enveloped me in its dark cloud of misery until I came across an inviting pool of light that emanated from the large open doors of the old fire station in Rathmines. This unusual space had been a curiosity for a long time. On every occasion that I passed the large red doors of the abandoned station, which bears a striking resemblance to the little old fire station in the movie Ghostbusters, I had wondered what the interior would be like. I was intrigued by what secrets might be hidden within. So, to discover the doors open and the warm and pleasant sound of an opening night crowd spilling out from what is now the MART Gallery was a perfect cure for the miserable evening outside on the street.

I couldn’t help but notice the presence of government ministers and a former Taoiseach and I sensed the refreshments for such a distinguished audience would be of a very high standard indeed. As I made my way to the back of the cavernous space to where the drink station had been established, I passed a viscerally disturbing, but beautifully crafted, painting by Emily Bruton; titled I’m on a Twitter High (2013), it is of a young man with blood running down his lower face, covered in electrodes and holding a jug full of blood. Slightly disturbed by this image I continued to navigate through the crowd until I was confronted by a television monitor showing a video work of Billy Ward. Entitled The Falling Man (2013) it is CCTV footage of a silly drunken character dancing back and forth on the edge of a railway platform. Considering my own tendencies to wobble at times, I was further disturbed by the danger of this performance until, aghast, I watched as the chap fell before the train arriving at the station. Completely disturbed by this point I pushed my way to the drink table without a care as to who was in my way.

Elbowing the former Taoiseach out of the way I grabbed the only choice for steadying the nerves, a glass of red wine. I was delighted to discover it was Valdecaz, a steady tempranillo. It is described as having a “scent of delicate tones, cherries, plums and blackberries. The taste is fruity and full-bodied with a light and very discreet touch of sweetness in the aftertaste.” Considering the poor state of the weather outside and the inner state of my nervous disturbance, it was refreshing to drink a wine that had been grown under the steady hot sun of Toro, Valladolid and that came from the vast fertile plains of the Duero River. After a few settling draughts of the welcome vino tinto, I grabbed a pamphlet and delved deeper into the artworks on show.

The exhibition I had stumbled into was a group show, the first exhibition of the ‘Implicate Collaborative’ formed by Emily Bruton and Jill French, which includes five other artists, Lauren Brown, Billy Ward, Fiona Chambers and Jennifer Cunningham & Tim Acheson. All of the works focus on the peculiar relationship between our perceptions of personal privacy and the public domain. The short opening essay in the catalogue by Dr. Paul O’Brien focused on the macro implications of globalised politics and filled me with the suspicions of intrigue to be found in espionage and conspiracy theories. After reading through it I felt like a spy in a John le Carré novel: was I being observed or was I just another man in the crowd? I became quite twitchy and nervous, the only solution to which was (yes, you’ve guessed it reader) another glass of what was now becoming the unsteadying vino tinto.

The exhibition was opened with speeches from Emily Bruton and Jill French who were followed by the guest speaker, the Minister for the Arts, Jimmy Deenihan, who has much improved his style as a speaker on contemporary art since our last encounter, (Wine Soak no.4: Challenging Times). The presence of the political representatives sprinkled through the crowd was adding to the sense of intrigue, and as the wine kept flowing, a real sense of danger was growing as I was inspired by the artworks to wax lyrical on my own clandestine past.

For me, the art works seemed a little more intimate than the grand schemes of the macro political notions of privacy and intrusive public media as in the very personal work of Fiona Chambers who has been generating statistical information by logging of the minutiae of her life since last April. This was also the feeling I got from pieces in the back room gallery like Jill French’s images generated by taking photographs by pointing her camera through other peoples keyholes; Emily Bruton’s mobile phone in a glass box on the floor showing video footage from a clandestine camera following police through a crowded public thoroughfare; and the periscope by Jennifer Cunningham (in collaboration with Tim Acheson) that encloses the spectator’s view in a framed box pointed toward video footage of a derelict, former soviet listening station in Berlin. This sense of being implicated as a collaborating party in some clandestine and unethical activity by simply engaging with the artworks was also to be found when leaning down to hear Jill French’s illicit recording of a criminal investigation being played on a short pedestal in the main garage space.

All of the works made the viewer complicit with their intrusive and clandestine nature, generating a sense of the conspiratorial. More terrifying for me though was the twitter feed displayed by Lauren Brown that revealed the interconnectivity that is possible through the cyber world by simply searching for a word like headphones. This was accompanied by a collection of headphones and a courtroom drawing by Mike O’Donnell of a criminal refusing to be part of his public trial by remaining closed within the world of his personal stereo.

But rather than isolating the audience in their own private worlds, the work was generating a very broad and interactive discussion between complete strangers and, against my own better judgement, after a few more glasses of wine I ended up divulging some personal tales of my own youth – of incidents for which I ran the gauntlet of the law and stories that shall not be repeated here on the grounds that I may be incriminating myself. The exhibition made me truly thankful for the fact that the pervasive mobile telephone camera and the saturation of social media websites did not exist at a time when embarrassing and criminal anti-social behaviour was the norm in young Ligvine’s day to day routine. As I could see the look of horror growing in the faces of the large circle of people that had gathered around to listen in on my tales of a misspent youth, I knew it was time to make a break for it before the minister for justice turned up to make a citizen’s arrest. When I had said my piece, my work was done; I lashed back the last of the grape juice and fled back into the anonymity of the night from which I had come.

Implicated will run in the MART Gallery,190a Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin 6 from the 3rd to the 20th of October and is open from 1pm to 7pm daily (Closed Mondays). The exhibition will continue in London on a date and at a venue TBC. There will also be a talk in NCAD Harry Clarke Room on the 11th October at 6pm based on the exhibition investigating the boundaries of privacy.