9 Mar 2012 - 25 Apr 2012
Installation View of One + One by Eugene Langan
Venue: Irish Cement Room and Lower Gallery
Sponsor: Drogheda Borough Council/ Arts Council
Admission: FREE

One + One

      Brigid McLeer

March 9 - April 25, 2012

One + One is a video installation, performance, and drawing-based work in three parts by Drogheda-born, UK-based artist Brigid McLeer, and the first major exhibition of McLeer’s practice in Ireland. The exhibition, commissioned by Highlanes Gallery, continues its strand of site specific exhibitions considering the unique history and setting of the gallery.

For One + One, Brigid uses a number of diverse sources as both reference points and inspiration. These include, among others, Jean Luc Godard’s films - Le Mépris (1963) and One + One (1968), from which the exhibition takes its title; and James Joyce’s modernist epic novel Ulysses (1922). Central to the whole work is the idea of naming, and the names of people and places feature consistently in all three parts. As Cherry Smyth writes in her essay for the catalogue”McLeer’s practice works as both an homage to, and continuation of, the work of these acclaimed masters of experimental fiction and film”.

Brigid McLeer says: This exhibition continues an ongoing concern in my practice to stage complex and contingent models of the subject, such that the privileged position of the individual is called into question. I do this through developing durational performative responses to pre-existing texts, sites or images. Operating through live and documentary modes, in lens-based media, as well as through drawing and writing, the work places the figure of the artist as a cipher through which multiple subjects and multiple relationships of subject emerge.

One + One (The Film) is a single-screen video loop. This work consists of a 45min video sequence showing an extreme close-up tracking shot of the redbrick walls and blue velvet curtains of an un-named and unidentified space. Occasionally, words appear on the screen: The School, The Streets, The Tower, The Brothel, The Concert Hall, etc. These are all place names given by James Joyce to certain episodes in his novel Ulysses. Overlaying the image is a violin piece by Heinrich Biber from his 17th century Mystery Sonatas cycle, played by Alice Pierot.

One + One (The Reading) is a video installation and set of drawings onto Perspex. In this central section of the exhibition, McLeer mimics the structure of the single day over which Joyce’s Ulysses unfolds in Dublin, reciting, over 7 hours, all the proper nouns in the novel in a durational performance. The performance takes place in Birmingham, UK in June 2010 as part of an artist’s residency at The Rea Garden (commissioned by artist group Behind Closed Doors), once an industrial site of small factories and warehouses employing Irish migrant labourers.

Using four separate HD video cameras, the principal camera runs along a specially commissioned miniature rail track which runs for 12.5m along the length of the Rea Garden site. This track and the filming of the camera running along it, is a direct reference to Godard’s opening sequence from Le Mépris. In this typically reflexive Godard sequence we see a scene from a film. In this work, the relentless backwards and forwards tracking of the camera means that no particular viewpoint is privileged; instead, everything seen is part of the same register, destabilising the idea of a central subject or a forward temporal momentum.

The final part of the work One + One (The Song) relates directly back to Godard’s film, which shows the Rolling Stones recording their song Sympathy for the Devil. Again, using tracking shots, Godard shows the band gradually piecing together the song; devising, working on, and recording their separate parts, over and over, yet always moving towards the bringing together of these separate parts that the recorded song requires.

McLeer’s intention with this new work was to strip it back from the dynamic of a group composition, to a solo singing voice, and to then recombine the solo voice with itself in the final video work.

By resetting the Rolling Stones’ anthem Sympathy for the Devil from Godard’s film to a séan nós arrangement, McLeer turns it into a stark lament, which, in roving the globe and history, evokes aspects of the Irish diaspora. Here naming recurs in a tongue-in-cheek way as the chorus resounds with the words: ‘Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name’.[1]

Alongside the video-based installation, Brigid exhibits a series of drawings taken from stills of the video footage, which map out the changing relative positions of figures in the images. These drawings in part play with the narrative connotations of the audience figure, and at the same time explore relationships between the moving image and its freeze frame counterparts.

The green, red and blue, important in Le Mépris, also codify the images and create an allusive palette in the installation, from the blue curtains in One+One, (The Film) and (The Song) to the drawing/sculpture elements in the exhibition, which suggest lighting filters, with the coloured, oval drawings of the spectators on Perspex.[2]

McLeer has also chosen to display the tracks used in the films. Their “visible presence on the gallery floor makes apparent the artifice and technique of film-making, but could also be considered a nod to the railways built by Irish navvies that criss-cross- Birmingham”. [3]

Biography/ Brigid McLeer’s work has been shown as gallery installations, single-screen video works, work for the page, site-based performances and also in the form of critical/creative writing. Recent solo exhibitions include Isoli [cont.], Lanchester Gallery Projects, Coventry; The Face of Another and The Other Side of Shouting Men Alsager Arts Centre, Crewe; Vexations, Site Gallery Sheffield; and L’Isola Di, San Servolo Servici, Venice, Italy. Group exhibitions include Beyond Fontana, curated by Stephanie Moran, Studio 1.1, London; Unspeaking Engagements, curated by Steve Dutton and Brian Curtin, Chulalongkorn University Gallery, Bangkok and LGP Coventry; Drawing Breath, Lugar Do Desenho, Foundation of Julio Resende, Porto, Portugal, and in 2011, a two person show with Jane Ball titled A Game of Two Halves, Lewis Gallery, Rugby. Brigid is currently Course Director for BA Fine Art at Coventry School of Art & Design, and lives in London.

An accompanying publication will be available in April and will include essays by Dr Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, lecturer in Theoretical and Historical Studies in Visual Art at the University of Ulster, Belfast, and poet, critic and curator Cherry Smyth.

The exhibition will travel to Wexford Arts Centre, opening on July 21 and selected works will be show in AC Institute New York City in June 2012.

Highlanes Gallery is grateful for the on-going financial support from Drogheda Borough Council, the Arts Council and Irish Cement Ltd. and wishes to acknowledge the support of Coventry School of Art & Design towards the exhibition. In 2011, the artist also received a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to develop the work for this exhibition.

Also at Highlanes Gallery:

-Primary School Programme Exhibition and Selected work from the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection continue until 26 April, 2012.

-Highlanes Gallery Public Programme includes tours, gallery talks, workshops for children, young people and adults, drop in drawing, and other exhibition focused events. Go to for up to date programme information and join the email list by clicking on the home page. The earliest confirmed at this time are:

  • Exhibition Opening Friday 9 March at 7.00pm: Professor Steve Dutton, a visual artist based in the UK and Professor of Contemporary Art Practice at the University of Lincoln will open the exhibition.
  • Artist’s Talk, Saturday 10 March at 11.00am: an illustrated gallery based talk with Brigid McLeer
  • Continuing the link with the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s Public Programme, and within the context of this exhibition, visual artist Amanda Coogan presents an illustrated lecture What is…Performance Art?  Saturday 24 March at 12.00noon, free, booking essential

  • Workshops for Children considering One + One: Brigid McLeer                                                                                                               Led by facilitator and educator Lynn McGrane
    Wednesday 11 April
    1) Workshop for 5-8 year olds Step into spring 11.00am-12.30pm
    2) Workshop for 9-12 year olds Step into spring 1.30-3.00pm
    Thursday 12 April
    3) Workshop for 5-8 year olds Slippery Surfaces 11.00am-12.30pm
    4) Workshop for 9-12 year olds Slippery Surfaces 1.30-3.00pm

    Workshop Booking and Cost: There are approximately 20 places available for each workshop as they take place in the gallery. Each workshop place is €5.00 and materials and refreshment is included.
    To book your place, please contact Reception at Highlanes Gallery T. + 353 (0)41 9803311

Highlanes Gallery, now in its fifth year, is a municipal art gallery for Drogheda and the North East, home to the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection, and exhibiting a programme of temporary exhibitions of modern and contemporary art.

Highlanes Gallery receives financial funding from Drogheda Borough Council, the Arts Council and Irish Cement Ltd.

Highlanes Gallery’s onsite partner is Andersons Café.

Highlanes Gallery is situated in a former Franciscan Church, in the centre of Drogheda on the Boyne, Co, Louth. Drogheda is a thirty minute train journey from Dublin and 1 hour thirty from Belfast.

Highlanes Gallery is open 6 days a week, Monday – Saturday, 10.30am – 5.00pm, closed Sunday.

Highlanes Gallery, Laurence Street, Drogheda on the Boyne, Co. Louth, Ireland

E.; W. T. + 353 (0) 41 9803311

[1] Brigid McLeer “& make a screen in” by Cherry Smyth 2012

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

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