Reflections from, through and beyond a family archive—Margaret Fitzgibbon

Magaret Fitzgibbon

One of the ways we define the present moment is by valuing or devaluing past events. This exhibition takes a series of personal family artefacts that appear to have no intrinsic ‘value’ to show how such intimate remains both conceal and reveal prevailing circumstances and wider belief systems of a specific period. Several years ago, my mother gave me access to a cache of thirty personal letters written to her by my father that she had in safe keeping for over fifty-five years. Around the same time I had begun to use Super 8mm film as a medium for my own artwork and I was drawn to re-engage both with the memory and content of hours of regular 8mm home movies shot by my father during our childhood, now forgotten and stored in the family attic. This collection, of personal films and ‘kept’ letters, formed an impromptu archive and became core research material for a practice-based PhD at The National College of Art and Design Dublin 2008 - 2014.

The artworks in this installation imaginatively reconfigure 1950s domestic furniture, home movies, family album photographs and oral histories to recreate a domestic-style sculptural, moving image and aural encounter both inside and outside the gallery space. The ‘archive’ is a result of my family’s experience of ‘the second wave’ of mass emigration to Great Britain alongside hundreds of thousands who left Ireland during the 1950s. Drawing on a range of narrative structures including, autobiographical, biographical and documentary, that often blur any strict divide between fact and fiction, I reformulate these banal and everyday artefacts as powerful origins of self-narration. I examine these microhistories as crucial sites of memory to explore the links between different kinds of remembering and how these continue to shape our individual and collective identities in the present moment.

Margaret Fitzgibbon is an artist living in Dublin who works across a range of media such as, experimental short films, sound, photography and sculpture. In recent years she has been exploring a range of related topics that include, the voice, identity, memory, forgetting and the archive. Fitzgibbon is represented in numerous national collections, including Cork City and County Archives, Cork County Council, University College Cork, The Arts Council of Ireland, Derry Women’s Centre. Upcoming projects include, an invitation to speak at Writing Women’s Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography (with publication) at Women’s Library and Information Center Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey, We all Live On the Same Sea, an international group exhibition, Sirius Art Centre, Cobh and Wild Screen, an international Art Film Screening Event in Connemara, Ireland.

Opening reception, Thursday 13th March, 6pm - 8pm
Exhibition runs from Friday the 14th of March to Monday, March 17th 2014
Opening times 12-6pm Friday to Monday.

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