After the Future- Solo show, Festival Gallery, Galway International Arts Festival
For this exhibition, Jennifer developed a body of work investigating the ways in which modern realms of collective pleasure decay. Abandoned fairgrounds, overgrown glass houses, untended car parks, ghostly figures and derelict hotels all hint at recent economic struggles but also suggests the cycle of change and renewal in which places become spaces and vice versa.
Statement about Exhibition
After the Future is a body of work that does not invoke a whimsical nostalgia. Rather it evokes a perturbance, a feeling of participation in a nostalgia that is not one’s own. This body of work comes to us in three distinct yet interlinked sequences, we see places that have been abandoned with little or no human population, we see children not at play but in moments of isolation and we see women in dream-like sequences in strange off-modern scenarios.
While it seems the world around us in ‘this’ present may be revelling in a political restorative nostalgia far out of reach for younger generations, it is pertinent to ask if hope lies in the past where does that leave these children but in the ruins of the world we think once was, after our own future? Restorative nostalgia stubbornly wants to return to a past that never was without realising it can never be again. It wants to simply go back and live within the fantasy without acknowledging the fantasy is indeed just that.
Reflective nostalgia, however, is grounded in longing, contemplating and remembering. It allows us to explore and re-imagine lived experience and to have a temporal and changeable understanding of the past as it relates to our present and our future. It is within this space, our future imaginary, that we can re-locate our own past and contextualise it in our present. After the future has happened we can imagine how it might have been different or how it might still become.
Gianna Tasha, Art Researcher/Writer
In Jennifer Cunningham’s imaginative world, an abandoned fairground, crumbling glasshouses and derelict lots of land evoke the faded magic of childhood possibility. These realms will change in the face of, and even be eclipsed by the tougher realities of life’s choices limitations and hurt.
The characters-female-who inhabit these spaces are poised between the two stages of awareness, in a moment of pre-pubescence, perhaps as dreamy confidence verges on the acknowledgement of more troubling prospects or, it could equally be, as young women recall that earlier, in-between moment. Cunningham draws superbly well, and she is as sensitively incisive in the 3D and video work. -Aidan Dunne Irish Times
Special thanks to Jane Cassidy-Original score, Tim Acheson-Technical assistance, Elaine Mears and Sue Roche-Actors, Gianna Tasha-Writing, Alan Fahy-Galway Memories and Rosemarie Noone-Claremorris Gallery, Galway County Council, Paul Fahy-Galway Arts Festival, Dolores Lynn, Maeve Mulrennan and Galway Arts Centre.