Seamus Nolan

Seamus Nolan is an artist based in Dublin, He is the current recipient of the prestigious CAPP commission with Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and Create. Other recent work include ”Proto punks’ with Upstate Theatre projects Drogheda, ‘Free Silvan Oscelik ‘ Mayo Arts Collaborative, ”F**K IMMA’ for ‘What we call love’ Irish Museum of Modern Art, ‘10th President’ a project which proposed the President of Ireland temporarily hand over office, ‘The Trades Club Revival’ which saw the revival of the traditional working man’s club in Sligo. The attempted hijack of a Ryan air flight ‘Flight NM7104’, the refusal to participate Ireland’s recent international art event ‘Dublin Contemporary’ 2011. Other works include Corrib Gas Project Arts Centre, which looked at the Corrib Gas Pipeline and the North Mayo community affected by its development, ‘every action’ a collaboration with the 5 peace activists acquitted for disarming a military aircraft in Shannon Airport, as well as ‘Hotel Ballymun’ which saw the transformation of a residential tower block on the outskirts of the city transformed into a boutique hotel.

Operating autonomously within the collective, the collective understood as a group of people operating under the umbrella of an ideology or belief system, such as a nation or an institution with particular and shared beliefs. Boris Groys in his essay, Religion in the age of Digital reproduction talks about societal as well as technological organisation as a product of the extension and secularisation of traditional religious practice, and goes on to define two types of freedom ‘Institutional freedom’ and ‘secular freedom’. The first, Institutional freedom is the freedom to believe in a model of organisation and a faith in its workings, a belief rather than a logical examination where institutions such as the nation state, the church, or any totalitarian organisation removes the burden of constantly defining or working out a position in relation to individual everyday existence. The second, the idea of secular freedom Groys maintains as the product of the reaction against the institutional model, stemming from the enlightenment which brought about the freedom of personal choice, to belong to a particular religious organisation or not, an individual and private choice to participate in society on one’s own terms. This choice however brings with it the burden of constantly defining and working out a position with respect to the institutional model.

So if we consider cultural activity as either institutional or secular, secular being the decision of the individual to participate or not to participate, and institutional, as the automatic participation, either way the resulting activity, the performance of both individual and collective decision making relies on a shared belief in the operation of the state (the institution) to provide the mechanism to facilitate the collective. In other words the individual activity is either a participation in an institutional belief system or a reaction to it.

In response to the 2011 London riots, the recently deceased Darcus Howe in a very famous interview brought up the idea of the Hysterical moment, a moment where neither reason or belief operate and instead an instinctual and primeval impetus overwhelms the individual who can no longer contain the repression of desire, to act directly in accordance or response, to the given situation. As opposed to acting in accordance with the reason and conventions which facilitate the situation.

This position he claimed was neither action nor reactionary, neither logical or illogical but in opening up a dialogue around the issues and the activity, logic and belief are suspended. The convention and the belief system is exposed to the contradictions of its own appropriation. Perhaps an assertion of individuality, a plural individualism, is mobilised when the individual suspends the notion of consensus and becomes the actor in his or her own appropriation of collectivity.