Artist: Cheryl Donegan
Exhibition title: Banners, Layers, Legs & Vines
Venue: LEVY.DELVAL, Brussels, Belgium
Date: November 12 – December 19, 2015
Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and LEVY.DELVAL, Brussels
– – –The drabness of true artifice comes alive!– Morrissey
Cheryl Donegan’s subjects derived largely from digital sources: high-speed and high-connectivity technology. But they are also wedded to the low visibility imagery from social media, iPhones and the internet. These “weak images” of clothing items for sale on eBay, shopping videos, crafting videos, and lo-res graphics , among other things, form the basis of individual and related projects. In her work, she recognizes how the frantic pace of innovation in digital and communication technologies compresses our sense of time. Rather than contemplated, our images are instantly ripped, posted and linked. But rather than see this as a loss, Donegan regards it as a loop: the digital technology that allows these images to flow to her, also allows for her to re-flow the images back in the form of scans and prints, refashioning these readymades into her works.
Both the “Banners” and “Layers” series incorporate fabric developed by arranging strips of gingham on a scanner. In the “Layers” series, this printed fabric is combined with commercial gingham fabric to create pictures that articulate not depths, but shallows. The combined surfaces -layered, illusionistic, abrupt, pasted- are not flat, but thin, with cuts that seduce the eye, but do not allow it to settle. The slippage between the tactile world and the virtual one, conjures a picture caught between thingness and immateriality- a quotidian gauntlet.
In the “Banners” the scanned fabric is re-arranged, flipped, cropped and inverted by the limits of the apparatus of the software that Donegan played with to produce it, so that each repeat creates a new image. The “Banners” were ordered by the meter, printed, shipped, received and displayed. This “bringing to the surface without using hands”* can be imagined as an abstraction of labor, which leads to the abstraction of thing as image.
For the video (working title “Waist”), Donegan created an account on the video sharing social media site Vine. As username YourPlasticBag she worked within the appartus’ limit of 6 seconds to compile video segments which repeat, relate and connect a collection of footage of homevideo images, YouTube downloads, screengrabs, images from her past video, all looping according to the sites “loops equals likes” logic. Usually viewable on the smartphone, the video has been scaled up for the gallery, capturing the framework of the screen and the enndless scrolling of images. The thumb which usually directs the scroll as it rubs the glass of the screen, is not captured here. The “missing digit”, a row of half mannequins, the “no hands” method suggest that the body itself is the surplus of the digital.
Weakness, erasure, lack of closure and misuse are features of the realm Boris Groys terms the “ultra-modern” — a fast moving society with little time to resolve or complete images, only to keep clicking; discarding one project for the next; oscillating between the poles of outlandish luxury and debased realism, a paradox between so much and too little.
*Steven Henry Maddof, “ The Impure”
Cheryl Donegan, Banner [Green Gingham], 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Banner [Pink Gingham], 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Legs, Leggings Leggings, 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Banner [Blue Gingham], 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Banner [Magenta, Blue and Red Ginghams], 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Untitled [Layers# 3], 2015, Untitled [Layers# 4], 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Untitled [Layers# 8], 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Untitled [Layers# 7], 2015
Cheryl Donegan, Untitled [Layers# 1], 2015