2010, exhibition/performances by Gerard Mannix Flynn
Padded Cell & Other Stories @ Dialogue, 43A Vyner Street
Flynn’s exhibition at Vyner Street is aptly placed. By name the art space Dialogue encourages conversation, whether it be with others or internally, and Flynn’s exhibition is one that encompasses the viewer with words. Hard and acutely probing, they surround as soon as one enters the gallery. Provoking and difficult, it is not just visuality that has to be reckoned with in Flynn’s exhibition but the irreversible words of others that, blown up and displayed in the wall, are inescapable. Letters from authorities, blunt and faceless in bare type-face, are hung next to accounts of Irish childhoods, contrastingly personal in ill-taught handwriting. These letters are massive, huge sheets of paper towering above us telling harrowing tales. They are mounted in colour, perhaps for interest to avoid a sea of white, though the effect is one that encourages the surreal nature of this display. Giant coloured letters are a child-like, playful almost, reflective of the childhoods these children were robbed of and bright in stark contrast to the dark material they contain. The photograph here, a blurred and mottled face, is a symbol of children lost and forgotten, again made more jarring with this lurid and livid green. Padded Cell and Other Stories displays the painful truth of what happened to many children in Ireland under the hand of Church and State, telling stories that have long been covered up — artfully and provokingly displayed.