Detail of 'Installing a Mountain' View of 'The Art of Navigation' Installing 'Shroud' at the Archeology Museum, Villanovaforu, Sardinia, 2007 Errigal, viewed from my window.
Installation with performers at the Goethe-Schiller Archiv in Weimar. Detail of 'Stray Birds' Still from 'Lunar Alphabet' Installation shot of 'Archive for Jan Palach'
Still from 'North of North' Image from a work  in progress. Photograph from Maharoarty beach, Co Donegal Image derived from a still from a video piece (2008) Still from 'Breathe', a video installation View of Cló Ceardlann (Cló workshop) Image used to advertise 'The Living Archive'
FIELD Ian Joyce, 1991– 20142016
Final text

Signs of damage are like a lingua franca: something left over, torn, patched and overlooked is repaired and put to good use.

He comes across as an out of sorts faith healer or a janitor running an institution of unidentified purpose.


Mmarks, blotches, stains, over-painting, smudges, creases, bends, folds, traces, leaks, spills.


Tears, folds, dog-ears, creases, abrasions, scratches, scuff marks.leaks, spills:

He imagines form as a means of connecting disparate spaces, a work as a compendium; a series of drawings stands in for a visual grammar; hundreds of small paintings account for a word.

Works were begun. Few were completed. work begins

With fixed conventions the energy of form-making, the erotic and unboundable force of imagination is flattened and effaced (along with everything else). energy

Grids, or structures, by which materials are categorised conform in the end to an ethos of authoritarianism which they were supposed to circumscribe. circumsribed by grids.

The vanishing of form, the effects of its replacement with categories like catalogue, list, collectionc, ompendium, encyclopaedia, library, archive is synonymous with 'contemporary' art.

An over powered and drowned out impulse: a lost child without mama.

compendium, catalogue, ecyclopedia

Think 'Art is ARCHIVE': art = ARCHIVE open works which remain in the realm of trial and error (and go on forever). How to close open works, a conundrum: He needed to imagine something that would come to an end so that there would be time left over, to live and breathe in.

Art without form disappeared in an infinite return and the supposed solutions turned up as the same problems reformulated.


He resorted to themes to lighten his your leaden path with: navigation, nomadism, mapping, even meditation...

Visualising art as a great vessel or vehicle: the artist as the artist-rider of forms, purveyor of identity. Works made of and hot air balloons, intensely coloured and tethered like magnificent excrescences tethered in Mín a' Leá. Fields of sky afloat with zeppelins made of Japanese paper inscribed with Gaelic tracts and powered with who knows what form of gas (to be paid for by Udarás na Gaeltachta).

The word ICON fed a phantasmagoria all of its own. The history of printmaking and mechanical means of reproduction (Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc Teoranta) seen as a great continuum: Video, film, printing, every kind of mechanical reproduction known to human kind, marked down in a conspiracy of disseminations, growing in their capacity for illusion. The iconic energy of an image formulated as constant over time: an idea of Art one day to be revealed to the world, the 6000 or 7000 million other humans busy with their lives.

So much for that.

The more humble idea of 'closing works' (finishing them) gave way to ' performances' with images of cleaning, arranging, and leave taking given precedence.

Ttime passing, rituals with few participants. No noise.


Working methods


Working on an image. by concentrating on a different paradigm. While oOne thing is happening, something else is going on: reading and /thinking; writing and /painting;


licensing a kind of distraction encouraging the growth of ecouraging an image to grow

; a laid–back

automatism under the aegis of distraction.

The open work: a strategy for dealing with "the perceived weak image-signal in the post-industrial-market-differentiated-image-saturated culture".

New spaces perceived as historical openings that occur in the inter-erosion of culture (culture clash) stimulating a sort of iconic agitation/energy.

Vision, 'seeing', perception appearing at stress points; points where fixed knowledge conventions are abraded and dissolved (mores, morals, behavioural and conceptual habits, pedagogical traditions, manners). abandoned


Art as opening a social space for the future to safely pass through.

Art as probing the future for safe access: growth worms in black soil.

Duality persona:

Opposition of inner/outer energy

Inner self (ball of fire)                Critical self (control)

Living Archive:

A thought experiment for drawing together traits of knowledge on a scale of auto-biography, a person’s individual personal history (biography).

Art as a form of survival; art work/life work = setting things in order.

Identity and Naming

Become someone else? Vanish? Become invisible? Live in clover, Sweeney astray? Could somebody take me in? Ccould somebody be taken in? become someone else? vanish? live in clover? could somebody take me in?

Could he create a safe haven:, some indefinable institution? Could a publicly funded self-instituted imprisonment be justified on the basis of mild insanity?

Iconography: Bboat, vessel, kite, balloon, diploma, map, book, image.

Rrepeat after me:

Recycle, use up existing materials, confine yourself to existing space.

Ffall in love with the STACK. “An cruach mona”. Bring turf to China and present it in a dish of water.

A duality of human nature: an inner and an outer character, a self becoming, a self that you will become.

A visceral, irrational energetic being that sees seeing without knowing: volatility awaiting access to the palace of life. On the other hand the diluting, dissipating and infinitely differentiating energy of organisation.

In this neck of the woods Art is more than just baggage; it is a whole paraphernalia requiring beastly drudgery.

He would make of the afterlife an extension of the mind’s space; the testing ground of a works survival its ... coherence in anoth er culture.

Wwhat makes sense in Gort a' Choirce must make sense in Gujarat.”

Art as knowledge-navigation: mapping a way through.


To mastere sSelf-creation, in a culturally dispersed void.”

Nnow he is an astronaut...

... glueing together the separated compartments of forms of thought.


Join together ....... the different kinds of pictorial space experienced in sculpture ....... the different kinds of space visualised in cosmology.

This is a Vessel                             This is a Car


Cló, a reverse factory

Imagine life lived, as a soul-vessel “shaped a certain way” obliged to travel in a certain direction 'a' and at a certain speed; culturally bound, its skin absorbing influences (by osmosis), propelled in living space, readying itself for anonymous travel in the afterlife/(culture)

Autodidactic implies Art as an activity shaped from personal experience; ‘self-training’.

An activity whose definition comes through the practice of everyday life.



Creativity which is underneath, basic to, all forms of expressive art:the common denominator of all forms of art:


Llife form



In trying to make Art he is doing a kind of research into a desultory archive of personal effects:

Copybooks, photographs, postcards, letters, notes, books, diaries, assorted miscellaneous memorabilia.

These materials, manufactured for everyday use (i.e. school, leisure, hobbies) were given to himme, sometimes bought for himme, but rarely by him. They became and are hismine, however, more intensely than anything he could have bought himself. While for the most part second hand, the feeling of possessiveness is all the more intense.

So he will not say that he collects these materials, just that he happens to have them. "They ... to have come into my care. I don't go looking for them." He will treat them with a certain indifference, ... careless about losing them. As if they ... can and should take care of themselves.

Their second-handness is defining: an obsessiv familiarity with an inherited ‘self’, un-free and confined.

The invention of a person or persona is to do with this: Seosamh Finn was one such my name: Seosamhín is ainm dom,a symptom of a craving to be somewhere else, to be someone else?


He seems to have accrued materials whose value is ambiguous or unstable. Materials which have no market value (not even in a car boot sale), as private as it's possible to be – being unrecognisable outside a personal context. Even their worth as memorabilia would appear to be diminishing in real time. ...

Not the substance, first and foremost, but the value of these materials is tantalising. Who bought them, how long since they were manufactured, what change occursred? when their intended use is subverted or lost. A copy book belonging to someone she never knew or which he found accidentally is valued differently than something he wrote in myself or that belonged to one of his siblings. from the one she wrote in herself.

He researches these particular materials because of their promise of a history linked to inherited abstractions about the world, a personal d.i.y history of notions.


Nnow you see it, now you don’t.

Nnow you see something, now you see something else.

What an image is, is not “there”. It, is seen. Lines and marks need depth to make sense.

Scratch it out, turn it upside down.

Is it possible to make a shift in an image while keeping its physical constitution more or less intact?

When you turn an image upside down will it behave differently, cohere around a different kind of space?

Operating like this – destructively – on an image is analogous to reversing a piece of writing, or rendering it illegible –

Notes for Chairman Mao:

A sheet of paper is already an image, before anything is inscribed on it, just like a sheet of steel, pounded into shape in the steel works. The image is transformed by manufacturing.

Things made in a process of perfect repetition coloniseing... the imagination with fixed forms ... and conventions. The charge (the individual’s powers of self-formation) that goes into making an image is processed out away.

The only car

Fortunately, through the skin of the picture plane nothing unambiguous can pass.

Images are identity creating: (vehicles) that draw (fuel:) by resorting to a world of second class objects and second hand possessions: they (car park:) themselves in the narrow and almost used up space of the black economy. The artist, shaman of the self-employed, defines art as a singular activity in which life can be translated back into non-reproducible forms.


Write something down. Something has happened.

This logic is a lesson and – for a brief moment – an aid to overcoming the anxiety of “having to be someone (someone of substance?)”. Then the forces of gravity return ... making you suffer the need to find a bearing outside yourself: so, again, write something down, and for the record: cross it out, fold it or even throw it away and there it is – no longer there – having been there, always there.

Somebody is somebody who will not die: and nature is nothing if not a vast document, a diploma in incomprehension and incoherence.

Habits of thought/physical patterns

Identifying the forms of experience, the logic of a belief system, make it transparent.

Art, a vessel for the soul to travel in.


Things can be made to appear and disappear.

You are required to work with a stack.


The field

What can be expressed (if anything) in purely visual terms – mediated through the eye, the body’s visualisation and receptivity sensitivity?

The lLaw is: rely on physical transformation in the materials. The impact, the meaning, Rely on what happens through the value associated with the materials, and their treatment. The dDestruction of a memento induces something intimates regret and horror, ... disappointment.

Does its rRepair invoke suggestes relief, its protection, and modification a sense of fragility and expectation?


When you see something, which you hadn’t seen a moment ago, are do you become absorbed?

Does the concentration that happens when you are you drawn into depth? ... disembodyied you from the treadmill of noise and undigestable experience?


In the installation pieces you did in Belfast a person could walk around and experience the picture from inside. Was the actual The exhibition area supposed to be the same as was the depth of the work?: images on 4 sides, semi-transparent surfaces on the scale of the room.

Within the materials (art materials) used, certain salient aspects appeared: things were worn, a kind of change or damage was done to manufactured things.

cCharacteristics, which could be transcribed as visual or sculptural motifs such as creases, tears, hand marks, curling edges, dog ears, made a cycle of elements to intimate something personal or private. By working with these, situating them in contexts, emotive and structured encounters were supposed to have taken place:

– shame

– incestuousness

– possessiveness

– ineptness

– regret

– vulnerability

– embarrassment

Self-destruction = and self-transformation, privacy, evasion, intimacy bound up with the experience of writing, yet in a presentation that anticipates a meditative distance. A feeling or atmosphere of potential violation or invasion held at bay in the anonymityous context of a museum.

As a child she remember discovering hisher mother reading what she had written and was overcome by a feeling of shame and humiliation. Later she interpreted this – not as a personal trauma, but as a sensitivity

to the nature of writing, its duplicitous character: an illusion of autonomy masking a physical and social dependency.

Is his Art a fiat for self-deprecating form of self-effacement?

Once the self is got rid of life can begin!

– A child will understands the magic of making herself visible by removing her hands from over her eyes.

Qualities that are useful in performance are: being tongue tied, stuttering, being silent, ghost like and articulating out loud in a language no-one can understandknows.

When he wWashes out the sheets of writing by dissolving the ink and spreading it colourfully over the sheet of paper., he is

I am doing little, or so I imagine, to the physical state of the materials.

The mMemories and conceptions which were attached to these writings are dissolved and ... yet they remain, in the sense of evidence. The desire to read and the inability to read appear as activators of distance and loss, which is a first step away from reading into looking.

Looking needs to be invoked in this way where culture makes nature invisible or visible only as a text or an industrial surface..

Sometimes it makes sense for a picture to look like a photograph to subvert the conventional fixed form of looking.

Thought experiments:

9. Name the activity? Revision (yes, like school revision). For example: write a word down several times or more on a copper plate to help in learning the (Gaelic) word off by heart. Once you have it, or are fairly confident that you will remember it, cross it off. While this is going on, something else is happening on the visual plain, which is causally related, but over which there is only limited control.

He aAbandons the work to this attitude; from this the work will radiate its own presence & openness??

Life as a test

HShe could remember a teacher in primary school (Br. KieranSister Assumptia) telling them that life is a test. If we pass the test we will proceed to the next life (the afterlife). 'IShe was mesmerized by this, not because 'Ishebelieved it was true (Ishe didn’t care if it was true) but because it corresponded to myher situation: a slave to the boredom ofat school and anticipation of getting out one day, knowing that Ishe must pass through stage after stage, before Ishe would emerge a free man, ready to live the 'test life’, before dying into a kind of post-leaving certificate heaven.'

That life continuesd as a text is an example of how religious or metaphysical belief was conveyed in the institutional logic, which and affected in every dimension the formation of ‘soul’.

1. Ideas take root like weeds.

Tracing them back to earth connects them to the miasma of a "person", to meta-ideas – filigree formed from the flow of ideas, their appearance, evolution, and persistence, decay... Their gradual growth and transformation makes for a kind of abstract memory.

Printmaking as an art form could be characterized as reverse industrialization, a print workshop of the hills (Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc) a reverse factory turning the simulacra back into the real.

When drawing I am searching for a way to avoid a subject, a world laden with too much meaning.

To evacuate an image of meaning, to let it rest and breathe enabling it to be ...a conduit, for something to flow through.

(Let dead souls awaken)

Early works from, "Shifting Ground" exhibition, Belfast and Itami, Japan:

In the process of making these pieces the forms of words were broken down. Visual patterns, inks and colours surfaced and, the tactile qualities of the paper were permitted attention.

I - contentet myself with the notion of two separate compartments made of the same stuff: one given shape by the effacement of the other.

M- making the work, I transferred words and patterns onto an aluminium plate using a sharp implement. The plate filled with marks. Afterwards it was inked up, the original pages laid out on etching paper and, using chine cole, laminated and printed over.

A- a kind of closed circuit driven by a fixed logic; print and plate put together as an installation; the print hung on the wall; the plate, sculpted into a form depicted in the image, everything set against the wall.

A- a particular work, exhibited in Itami, was called "Black Economy". Aa literal and poetic reference: the drawing a kind of editing, the work recyclesing existing elements; funereal, admitedly a store or archive of texts and images.; a refusal to use up more space, more materials


These sSheets – from which the ink has bled –
Are myare her clouds and crumbs.
That fFold on themselves
To eEntrap this wind I air - she cannot seebreathe.

On yourher thoughts I ride again,
Without reason
Perched under a roof of their cohesion.

In your hand alone, then,
Is there is space enough?

To pitch the sky in?
To live and .....?

Ian Joyce was born in Dublin and grew up in Co.Cork, Ireland. He studied in Dublin and Berlin. His artistic activities encompass printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, performance, photo, video and writing, often in engagement with others. He is an active organiser of artistic exchange on an international level, facilitating and connecting art in the Gaeltacht with as remote places as Armenia, Georgia and Taiwan.

In 1998 he moved from Belfast to Donegal where he founded Cló.
In 2012-2014 he curated Úr, a trans-european art and culture project, through co-operation of Cló with the State Museum of Contemporary Art Thessaloniki, Greece.


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