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That Ends That Matter – An Installation by Jean-Paul Kelly

10/01/2017
Chloe Stavrou

The Delfina Foundation selected Jean-Paul Kelly to undertake a residency in winter 2015. During his residency, Kelly regularly attended the City of London Magistrate’s court in Central London as a visitor. For eight weeks, he observed the routine events and procedures that took place in the courtroom. The UK’s Criminal Justice Act prohibits any form of documentation within the courtroom, whether it be a sketch or a recording, and only allows illustrators to take notes, most likely in the quick and loose form of stenography.

The absence and overall restriction of documentation within a courtroom (and beyond) leads to the fairly obvious skewing of narrative events. Kelly, who works with found photographs, videos and sounds originating from documentaries, photojournalism and online media streams, realised that the particular restriction was advantageous to the concept and the production of his new work, That Ends That Matter. For him, lack of evidence or documentation of a specific event elucidates a direct relationship between physical materiality and subjective perception of each individual.

Such situations, in which evidence is lacking, fabricate image representations based on a very unreliable form of intangible reflection and recollection as both shared and personal memories. In our day and age, information is as effortlessly accessible as the Evening Standard on the Underground. However, within the courtroom, a place of supposed honesty and acknowledged transparency, the lack of documentation is paradoxical and challenges the sovereignty of such proceedings. That Ends That Matter is an eight-minute, three-channel video acting as a subjective reproduction of the events Kelly witnessed at court. One video re-enacts the court proceedings, another shows a constant photographic image stream as a retelling of the events and the remaining video acts as a visual soundtrack animation made out of geometric shapes.

Initially walking underground into Delfina’s bunker exhibition space, the viewer is confronted by the loud noise coming from the visual animation. To the left of the space, two screens are paired together – the image stream with the animation – and to the right of the space, the re-enactment stands alone. Encountering three screens, viewers may feel bewildered as to how to view the work, however, after a bit of floating, it becomes quite apparent that viewing order doesn’t really matter as each visitor finds their own. Some focus solely on the paired screens, others on the lone screen, and some sit against the wall and view the two screens (image stream and re-enactment) of the two spaces from the side together.

The re-enactment screen video begins, and a soothing female voice sets the tone for the three-channel video:

‘Excuse me, are you appearing before us today? No? Alright, so you’re here as an observer then? Okay, thank you. Welcome… Now we’re going to switch on some noise so we can discuss the matters properly.’

White noise immediately becomes a means of blocking transparent communication, in turn emphasizing the notion of skewing memory and representation of factual information. The re-enactment is played around a table, whereby the actors appear to be waiting around, lingering and passing the time. Although the scene is filled with white noise, none of the participants are talking to each other and there is a particularly eerie focus on an old man who keeps caressing the table with his finger – he soon looks up at us. The environment itself is immersive; the longer the viewer stays with them and observes, the more explicitly the viewer’s presence is felt by the actors. Presence is noticed and through direct and uncomfortable staring at the viewer, it is implied that the viewer’s observation is not wanted. The viewer is thus inclined to move to the left space and look at the other two screens.

Kelly uses a series of motifs and shapes interacting with the tactility of the artist’s finger or palm in order to establish image representation. When the visual animation screen shows a circle and emits noise, the image-stream presents a finger hiding a specific aspect of the photograph. When it is a square or a rectangle, it is usually a palm that hides a part of the photograph. Tactility in an immovable image stream represents an abstraction towards the idea of transparency. The artist’s hands touch, caress, hide, rub, caress and thus at times become overtly sexual when corresponded with homoerotic images – the hole becomes a motif frequently expended. The motifs of tactility cover people’s faces, acts of violence found in protests, and various scenes of despair. Here, tactility not only acts as a way of forming a temporal moment of surrealism, but also as a method by which one can learn how to connect to the images one sees, much like children touching things for the first time. The white noise itself, from being disturbing becomes soothing and harmonious with all three screens.

Smoke acts as another motif in images the viewer is shown. In a photograph where protesters are suffocated by teargas, the solution to the pain is pouring milk over your face, another act of blindness. Smoke becomes recurrent, and in the final frames of both the image-stream screen and the re-enactment screen, smoke presents itself with vigour. Smoke appears in the court of the re-enactment screen, and simultaneously, the sound stops altogether as the figures disappear in the haze.

That Ends That Matter’s representational strategy is based solely on memory and subjectivity as its response, much like the creation of human memories. To a certain degree, Kelly’s work embodies apophenia, a way of drawing connections and conclusions from sources that have no direct correlation other than their lasting perceptions – a spontaneous connection. It’s about communicating signs and non-objective matter, behaving in a way that strives to avoid both nostalgia and emotionlessness in order to question indexical notions of ethics in matters of transparency. Kelly may be asking, is abstraction fairer?

All images by Tim Bowditch, courtesy of Delfina Foundation.

Chloe Stavrou was born in Cyprus on the 6th of April, 1993. In 2013, and during her studies at university, she founded an interdisciplinary non-profit arts organisation named Tech-à-tête in her hometown, Limassol, Cyprus. Originally, Tech-à-tête was her personal reaction to the 2013 economic crisis in Cyprus and began as a free pop-up music & visual arts festival where all proceeds were used to purchase school and art supplies for children in need. Ever since, Tech-à-tête has been expanding and evolving into an educational and cultural hub with one of its goals actively addressing the inadequecy of dispersing governmental funds equally to art and cultural sectors. Another goal is to showcase local artists of all disciplines through initiating cultural and social conversations in the limiting artistic environment that is Cyprus. During her English and Related Literature/History of Art BA studies at the University of York in the UK, she majored in Contemporary Art & Digital Culture, American Independent Film, Post-War European Film, Post-Colonial Writing, Art Theory and American Literature beyond the 20th Century. Furthermore, she wrote her dissertation, which was a cross-disciplinary piece of writing, on the presence of Manifesto Writing as a Performance Object in Jenny Holzer's early work, 'The Inflammatory Essays'. After graduating in July, 2015 she worked for Ashkal Alwan (a non-profit arts organisation in Beirut, Lebanon) and assisted in the production of their international cultural forum called 'Home Works 7'. She is now undertaking an Art Business MA at the Sotheby's Institute of Art. Her curatorial practice and critical writing interests are transdiscplinary with regards to medium and revolve around deciphering the complexities of an ever-evolving digital landscape in the presence of post-humanity, post-connectivity/post-intimacy and post-capitalism. She also likes to mock these terms sometimes. In addition, since 2012, she has also created a musical alter-ego called 'Kineza' which allows her to express herself through playing music, sharing music, curating music, thus giving her the ability to create a lack of context without fearing judgement. She has played in bars, clubs, venues and festivals in Cyprus, the UK and Lebanon.

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Chloe Stavrou was born in Cyprus on the 6th of April, 1993. In 2013, and during her studies at university, she founded an interdisciplinary non-profit arts organisation named Tech-à-tête in her hometown, Limassol, Cyprus. Originally, Tech-à-tête was her personal reaction to the 2013 economic crisis in Cyprus and began as a free pop-up music & visual arts festival where all proceeds were used to purchase school and art supplies for children in need. Ever since, Tech-à-tête has been expanding and evolving into an educational and cultural hub with one of its goals actively addressing the inadequecy of dispersing governmental funds equally to art and cultural sectors. Another goal is to showcase local artists of all disciplines through initiating cultural and social conversations in the limiting artistic environment that is Cyprus. During her English and Related Literature/History of Art BA studies at the University of York in the UK, she majored in Contemporary Art & Digital Culture, American Independent Film, Post-War European Film, Post-Colonial Writing, Art Theory and American Literature beyond the 20th Century. Furthermore, she wrote her dissertation, which was a cross-disciplinary piece of writing, on the presence of Manifesto Writing as a Performance Object in Jenny Holzer's early work, 'The Inflammatory Essays'. After graduating in July, 2015 she worked for Ashkal Alwan (a non-profit arts organisation in Beirut, Lebanon) and assisted in the production of their international cultural forum called 'Home Works 7'. She is now undertaking an Art Business MA at the Sotheby's Institute of Art. Her curatorial practice and critical writing interests are transdiscplinary with regards to medium and revolve around deciphering the complexities of an ever-evolving digital landscape in the presence of post-humanity, post-connectivity/post-intimacy and post-capitalism. She also likes to mock these terms sometimes. In addition, since 2012, she has also created a musical alter-ego called 'Kineza' which allows her to express herself through playing music, sharing music, curating music, thus giving her the ability to create a lack of context without fearing judgement. She has played in bars, clubs, venues and festivals in Cyprus, the UK and Lebanon. Share: Twitter Instagram Facebook