Works by Maurice Doherty & David Sherry
HilbertRaum is delighted to invite you to PORTRAIT OF A PLANET ON THE VERGE OF CATASTROPHE, an exhibition of new installations and conceptual artworks by Maurice Doherty and a collection of new drawings, video works and performances by David Sherry.
Over the past two decades, both Doherty and Sherry have featured together in many group shows in Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, USA and China. After 20 years of featuring alongside one another, Hilbertraum (Berlin) is very pleased to present the artists’ very first ever duo exhibition. PORTRAIT OF A PLANET ON THE VERGE OF CATASTROPHE confronts humanity and the planet’s most pressing issues that grow more palpable each day - climate change and species extinction, an increased threat of thermonuclear war and the wide acceptance of extremist political ideologies in global politics. The artists respond to these catastrophic threats through the immediacy and clarity of conceptual, performance and text-based artworks, together with a compilation of videos and conceptual drawings. As artists, Doherty and Sherry share an interest in exploring the creative act as an intuitive and cerebral process - as a way to communicate on a more visceral and human level, not without a cutting sense of humour.
Doherty uses a cross-disciplinary approach that highlights ethical quandaries of human progress and resilience. His artworks routinely question the legitimacy of different modern day power structures, oftentimes setting up parameters that allow for viewer engagement. One of his new sculptural pieces which inspired the title of the exhibition - „Portrait Of A Planet On The Verge Of Catastrophe“ - consists of a biosemiotic environment that seeks to critically address notions of our ecological future, our interrelationships with different ecosystems and how the natural world can often appear immutable until it suddenly collapses. Passive bystanders usually act as the social pillars of human catastrophe: we fail to evaluate appropriately our own position in the given situation, and our role as agents and accomplices. Doherty’s new work addresses this diffuse sense of responsibility without offering apologies or solutions. His artworks for this exhibition are direct, double-edged and pretty unforgiving.
Likewise, Sherry’s unique form of philosophical research on what is perceived as normality in society encourages us to take a moment to reflect on our own attitudes and behaviours at this particular time on earth. The results are often comical, absurd and surreal but still strive to provide a valuable commentary on important social and political issues of contemporary life. While presenting video works and a new series of
drawings, a special feature of the exhibition will be a performance on the opening night, when Sherry will perform „Smashing Head“. This performance acts as a violent alternative to the practice of mindfulness meditation, an offering that is meant to help us cope with the ravages of modern day living. Like Mindfulness, Sherry says „Smashing Head“ also increases awareness, clarity and a non-judgemental acceptance of our present-moment reality. Sherry’s self-imposed self-abuse will strive to heighten the audience’s sense of survival, and hopes to preserve our sanity on a PLANET ON THE VERGE OF CATASTROPHE.
Doherty and Sherry first met in 1994 during their BA in Fine Art at the University of Ulster (Belfast, Northern Ireland) and met again in 1999 studying for an MFA at Glasgow School of Art (Scotland). During their formative years in Belfast, both artists became very influenced by the direct approach of performance art that has been prevalent in Northern Ireland since 1970s. Their use of humour and language along with absurdist methods can also be found amongst Scottish contemporary art in Glasgow, where the artists socialized, discussed ideas and often worked together on projects for over 10 years. During this time, Sherry became known for sewing pieces of balsa wood to the soles of his feet and carrying a bucket of water around for a week. Doherty made performances to video cameras, like standing upright until falling over from exhaustion and setting up prognosticating art installations that had the potential to kill gallery visitors.
A recent group exhibition in 2016 titled „The Laughable Enigma of Ordinary Life“ at the Centro de Artes Contemporâneas in São Miguel (Azores) featured both artists: Doherty presented a red neon sign declaring “I Slept With The Curator To Get This Show” alongside Sherry’s performance video „Running for the Bus“. In the video we watch Sherry continually failing to catch a series of buses just as they drive away from their scheduled stop. Running after the departing vehicles with two heavy bags of shopping, Sherry’s work invokes visually a kind of inverted and completely uncourageous version of the Tank Man in Tiananmen Square.
Opening: Friday Juli 26, 6pm - 10pm
Exhibition: 27.07.2019 - 04.08.2019