An exhibition review presented by Mike Culliney
How Capital Moves by Kennedy Brown
Curated by Annette Maloney at Limerick City Gallery Of Art (off site), Istabraq Hall, Merchants Quay, Limerick City, Ireland. Exhibition runs from 25th March to the 6th of May 2011.
Kennedy Brown is a collaborative partnership between Gareth Kennedy and Sarah Brown which began in 2005. They seek to open and actively involve themselves in the debate that multinational capitalist companies and their effects on individual lives reads like a science fiction novel but in fact it is all too real.
For this chapter in the on-going debate Kennedy Brown have created an installation piece which was originally commissioned for the Lodz Biennale in Poland, 2010. They are commenting on a computer factories decision to relocate their manufacturing facility to Lodz from Limerick in Ireland. For very real reasons the artists have chosen to replace the name of this particular multinational company with the pseudonym ` The Company ‘.
In How Capital Moves, Kennedy Brown have carefully crafted a statement on how redundancy, the scourge of the modern working person’s life, has become the norm within the insecure nature of employment at the beginning of the 21st century. They comment on how individuals are disposable in the hunger to keep production costs down and profits to a maximum.
On entering the exhibition at Istabraq Hall the first thing that struck me was the long walk from the main entrance of the exhibition area to the actual installation piece. This actually rings through with most manufacturing facilities in that on entering the facility you pass through the main door and you have a walking distance to reach the area of production. This walk could include passing through security, ` Company’ approved advertisements and employee merits or awards. Eventually one arrives at the heart of the facility where one is greeted with a wide open space full of activity.
Moving clockwise around the exhibition space the viewer is greeted firstly by two boarding passes on A4 paper and two billboard prints of the last flight from Shannon Airport to Lodz Airport, March 25th 2010. These images are loaded with narrative. The finality of ` The Company’s ‘ pull-out from Ireland and with that pull-out also the stripping of employees source of income, future and personal standing. The future is packed up in that plane and someone, somewhere else is going to receive the benefits of ` The Companies ‘ relocation.
Next on our journey through the installation piece we are greeted by two mugs encased within a glass cage mounted on aero-board plinth. The immediate impact of this piece would have to be an emotion of sympathy with the employees and their situation depicted on the mugs. On closer inspection the question has to be asked, who is the actual mug in the situation? The employees trapped within their glass cage perched on an internet blue base or the viewer looking passively on as these events unfold before their eyes.
We are greeted next on our journey by a box like structure bearing a disclaimer sign which contains white text on an internet blue background. The immediate effect of the disclaimer is that ` The Company ‘ is still out there watching upon the mugs. This increases our curiosity as to what is contained within the box. What a surprise and what an impact the two channel HD video has in-store for the viewer.
Having gone through and survived the effects of ` The Company’s’ pull-out, for me the video installation has the most potent impact. I can see first-hand how the pull-out has affected individuals and their lives. Limerick City and its surroundings went into a brief sense of mourning followed by a brief moment of disbelief followed by a long period of anger and resentment. This questioning exhibition by Kennedy Brown hits close to many hearts in Ireland, myself included, and documents that there is no way to make forced redundancy clean and unemotional. It is and will always be WRONG.