Mirror Pavilion by John Gerrard commissioned by Galway International Arts Festival for Galway’s European Capital of Culture 2020.
The Pavilion is a beautiful and striking structure, with three sides and the roof clad in a highly reflective mirror and the fourth wall a high–resolution LED wall.
This structure will host two new artworks Corn Work and Leaf Work which will unfold on the LED screen presented in two locations; Corn Work at the historic Claddagh Quay in Galway City and Leaf Work at the spectacular 4,000–year–old Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara. The works reflect and respond to the landscape of both locations.
Mirror Pavilion is a response to the escalating climate crisis and fearlessly pushes the boundaries of digital art using simulation. Gerrard has taken digital technology, usually employed by the commercial gaming industry, to create virtual worlds that simulate extremely detailed and authentic landscapes. The characters and landscapes we see on the LED screen may look like video or film but they are not; they hover in what the artist describes as the ‘slippery space’ between the real and the unreal. These two astonishingly real virtual worlds are meticulously constructed by digital means by the artist, a team of modellers, and programmers. This world unveiling will be a dazzling moment on the Irish landscape.
Corn Work, located by the River Corrib at Claddagh Quay, recalls histories of grain milling in Galway and the strong flow of water which provided a sustainable clean energy source for the city’s now dismantled flour mills.
Four folk figures, the Straw Boys, remade virtually, perform a symbolic wheel of production on the LED wall in the work. Changing with the seasons, they commemorate attitudes toward agriculture and the landscape that existed prior to the petroleum derived methods widely implemented today. The powerful coordinated turns of Corn Work provide a mirror image to Leaf Work in Connemara.
Mirror Pavilion, Corn Work | Claddagh Quay, Galway 3–26 September, 2020
Image Credit Mirror Pavilion, Corn Work, Concept render courtesy of John Gerrard
Leaf Work, located at Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara, presents a lone melancholy virtual figure on the LED screen of the Mirror Pavilion, clad in oak leaves. Derrigimlagh Bog was the transmission site for the first transatlantic radio signal from the Marconi station in 1907 and the landing place for Alcock and Brown’s first ever transatlantic plane crossing in 1919.
The leaf character here performs a lament for the effects of these and many other accelerating human technologies upon non–human worlds. She walks a slow simple circle within a choreography based on the position of the sun. Her sorrow is the antithesis of the dynamism and confidence of Corn Work.
Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work | Derrigimlagh Bog, Connemara 20 March – 11 April, 2021
Image Credit Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work, Concept render courtesy of John Gerrard
John Gerrard is best known for his large–scale and site– specific works. His sculptures, which usually take the form of digital simulations, have been installed in both high–pro le urban spaces such as Lincoln Center Plaza [New York] and Somerset House [London] and in geographically isolated locations such as Coachella Valley Desert [California].
His work has featured at the Venice Biennale while the Museum of Modern Art [New York] has recently acquired one of his major works for its collection.