Expect Nothing Press Release:
Gallery for One, Dublin
23 November 2007 – 18 January 2008

Anna Barriball, Siobhán Hapaska, Richard Hughes, Sara MacKillop, Nathaniel Mellors, Neal Tait

This is the first group show hosted by Gallery for One. For this exhibition we wanted to present a number of works in the very limited space of Gallery for One but still give the works room to be viewed individually. We requested each artist provide the guidelines for a minimal gesture that we would then realise in the gallery. Rather than a gallery for one artist we wish to present the gallery as a space for one viewer to consider the ideas, or gestures of six very different artists. Due to the nature of the request and the diminutive size of the space, many of the artists involved are working in an entirely new manner, realising works through a process that was new to them.


Clarke & McDevitt present: Expect Nothing
Tim Stott, Art Review March 2008, p.168

Gallery for One offers a unique set of conditions for artists and curators. Accessed through a small boutique, it is the size of a tall cubicle, about five feet square and eight feet tall, opening above to an illuminated recess. A group show here would seem folly, but by chance and design Clarke and McDevitt (Declan and Paul, respectively) have pulled it off, and have even stretched the space by showing more in it. This is achieved through an attention to scale that has less to do with size than with careful weighting of each gesture and the strength of its appeal or withdrawal. Not cramped by the expectations of a particular thematic, the riddle that is each gesture further bemuses one who, upon entering a space that suggests privacy and provision, is already surprised to find that there is nothing to hand.

One might reach first for Siobhán Hapaska's Head Wind (all works 2007), a toilet roll and holder upon which is written a brief eulogy to the acceptance of things as they are. Such throwaway sentiments cannot be disposed of here, and the reversa that withdraws an appeal as it is give  is left to hang there, playing out its own inoperativity. 

Put somewhat at a loss, one begins to turn, whereupon one encounters Nathaniel Mellors The Fathers Soliloquy (Giant Bum), a bum-head windily unfurling flag-bound slogans; the farts, it seems, of an insolent patriarch chewing on the world's indigestible inhabitants. Something dreadful might yet return from this ranting, blindly ridicuous lump to drown out more discreet discharges... such as Neal Tait's distressed portrait of Paul McDevitt, Untitled (Milkshake). Perhaps a gift in thanks, perhaps a retort, the makeshift twists of a straw stop the flow of a spilled McDonald's shake long enough for a dedication to be made. Tait, of course, specialises in hybrid portraiture, but here the twists and slippages reveal the rarity of a genuinely unexpected encounter.

Conversely, Richard Hughes's conspiratorial Let's Not and Say We Did pretends to signal an encounter that never took place. But to rue a torn poster would be to fall for an elegant white lie that blinds one to what is right before one's eyes. Nothing is missing or missed: there is just a wall upon nothing is inscribed but its own luminous blankness. Such conjuring far surpassed the economy of its means. As does Sara MacKillops Cassette Case, were again a reversal is made, with the redundant casing approaching, as record of a technological moment, its own former 'inside'. Such a gesture sends the familiar hurtling towards a horizon that the open case itself describes.

Above, arranged side by side along two walls of the ceiling recess, is Anna Barriball's Found Drawings (Dublin): 14 scraps of paper bearing accumulations of thoughtless scribbles scavenged from stationary-shop pen racks. This arrangement of test pieces transforms incidental anonymity into an unruly baroque surface, setting up modest but magnetic di sotto in sù. The more daring might exit