For Material Culture, Bridget O' Gorman, recipient of the 2010 Emerging Visual Artist Award, has produced a series of sculptural and video-based narratives referencing a 19th Century ethos of imagination, anthropomorphism, and collation. Informed by themes of historical mass production and consumption, her work explores elements of social commentary and wordplay particularly pertaining to 19th C culture in painting, experimentation and natural history.
O'Gorman investigates the human tendency to romanticise and anthropomorphise wildlife within a staged environment. The Victorian exaggeration of life through taxidermy, as well as the 19th Century collation and presentation of invention or 'curiosity' relates for O'Gorman directly to the formal aspect of the theatrical set. Her interest in the beast prevalent in myth and fairytale also connects to themes of metamorphosis as a means of survival.
Referencing the site or the building itself 'Material Culture' intends to highlight a capacity for adaptability and survival throughout instability. O'Gorman's work involves the considered placement and connection of invented object, image and sound in the creation of 'fictive' narratives or environments. Tensions between historicity, superstition and belief are explored, raising questions about dependency, and about the construction of fiction as a human requirement.
Here, the domestic and familiar materials of fragile slip cast china and delicate silver are juxtaposed on grand dining tables with foreign elements such as animal teeth, skin, bone and butterflies. These curious static installations, caught somewhere between natural history and constructed theatrics are in turn off set against intensely rich video projections of carefully constructed 'sets' depicting Victorian feasts, opulent interiors, domesticated live dogs and carefully positioned taxidermy.
In this manner, O'Gorman pursues the uncanny and the subversive possibilities inherent in the set or staged environment while attempting to engage the viewer's imagination, instinctual participation or 'faith' in the legitimacy of her hybrid narratives.