Noise can also be music to one’s ears, and noise to another. The American ‘minimalist’ (a label he rejects) composer Philip Glass practices what he describes himself as “music with repeatable structures.”[7] But within these repeatable structures, Glass’ intentional use of subtle and intermittent chaotic notes against the larger field of ordered notes in his compositions, creates moments of heightened polarity. As mentioned above, de Buitléar presents similar visible polarities in the black/white aesthetic of his drawn and fabricated works, but it is the subtle malformations between the communities of objects that creates the largest schism between the twin and its opposite, or in the grander scheme of things – the collective and the individual.

In regard to the individual, and the specific term “community” that I have repeatedly used (unconsciously so up to this point) to describe the collective sameness of objects that make up de Buitléar’s current work, and which populate the ground floor of The LAB – Jean-Luc Nancy writes in his brilliant analysis of The Inoperative Community:

But the individual is merely the residue of the experience of the dissolution of the community. By its nature – as its name indicates, it is the atom, the indivisible – the individual reveals that it is the abstract result of decomposition. It is another, and symmetrical, figure of immanence: the absolute detached for-itself, taken as origin and as certainty.[8]

This death of the community – what Nancy describes as a joint “suicide” – is based on the individual’s anxiety over their immanent death, not the community! Although we do subscribe to the benefits of the community – the utopian ideal of collective progress, ‘Being’ is inherently subsumed by the individual. From this perspective, de Buitléar’s sculptures take on the form of black funery-like objects – fit for human ashes, or possibly found by an archaeologist in a peat bog. Humanity is also etched in the sculptures’ subtle differences – making them anthropomorphic. Derrida defines Husserl’s search for the ‘origin’ as a “reactivation” of

a “hidden historical field”[9] – a ‘tomb raider’ so to speak. In the first paragraph of Serres’ Origin of Geometry he asks:

Now, to ask the question of the Greek beginning of geometry is precisely to ask how one passed from one language to another, from one type of writing to another, )om the language reputed to be natural and its alphabetic notation to the rigorous and systematic language of numbers, measures, axioms and formal arguments. What we have left of all this history prevents nothing but two languages as such, narratives or legends and proofs and figures, words and formulas. This it is as if we are con)onted by two parallel lines which, as is well known, nevermeet. The origin escapes ahead, inaccessible, irretrievable. The problem is open.[10]

de Buitléar’s ‘Out of Order’ is a corruption of Nietzsche’s phrase “out of chaos, comes order,” but the artist’s unfinished phrase leaves us with a question without a resolution. The artist’s new work at The LAB does not pretend to offer a conclusion, or even a narrative. We could read the unfinished ‘Out of Order’ as an equation, minus the = sign. However, to look at the work as a series of absences – a ‘method’ that art utilises all too often – maybe missing the point. There is something more here than the accumulation of form for the sake of art. The ‘communist’ output speaks of society and the relationships between subjects and objects, between language and the visual. de Buitléar’s forms leave sufficient gaps that allow the viewer to imagine sci-fi spaces and social precepts that define how we individually imagine or collectively live and die in society, and the literary manifestations that can take seed in the gaps between the origin of the object/subject and its inevitable death.

However, it would be unproductive to end a sentence – not to mention an essay, with the word “death.” Nancy would call this a ‘horizon’ “that must be challenged”[11]: just like Sartre before him who described ‘communism’ as “the unsurpassable horizon of our time.”[12] In de Buitléar’s repetition of a singular ‘concentric’ form, there is a sustained focus and purpose in the individual making of objects, that somehow, as if by chance rather than method, a community sprang forth. This scenario is in keeping with Nancy and Gilles Deleuze's definition of the clinamen – the inclination of one object toward another. Nancy writes that the community is at least the clinamen of the “individual.”[13]

Duration and time make communities – not to forget labour. Before now, de Buitléar’s assemblages were scaled up – the focus, labour and purpose was more monumental, more individual. By sharing this focus over a field of objects and drawings, there is something that transcends individual subjectivism. I think it is the many voices, rather than one voice, articulated by the ‘community’ – a term that I repeatedly come back to after experiencing de Buitléar’s new work. The same compulsions of repetition and routine is here as in the previous work by the artist – a behavior that inflicts the majority of artists. But more specifically in regard to this work, it is the compulsion to repeat – not in an effort to improve or rectify – but to populate a space, that explodes meanings and forms outwards – the centrifugal force that I wrote of earlier.


[1]    The definition of “Ready-Made Geometry” is bound in a statement – that geometry has no origin of development, and was found ‘ready-made’ in the Egyptian sand or Greek temple. From Jacques Derrida’s introduction to Edmund Husserl’s Origin of Geometry, University of Nebraska Press, 1989, p 27.

[2]    Edmund Husserl, Origin of Geometry, University of Nebraska Press, 1989, p. 158.

[3]    Michel Serres, ‘Origin of Geometry’, Clinamen Press, 2002. p. 25.

[4]    Jacques Derrida, op.cit., p. 27.

[5]    Michel Serres, op.cit., p. 25.
[6]    Jacques Derrida, op.cit., p. 57.

[7]    Philip Glass:

[8]    Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, University Of Minnesota Press, 1981, p.3.

[9]    Jacques Derrida, op.cit., p. 51.

[10]  Michel Serres, op.cit., p. 24.

[11]  Jean-Luc Nancy, op.cit., p8
[12]  Ibid., pp. 4-5.
[13]  Quoted in Nancy, The Inoperative Community, p. 1.


Ready-Made Geometry[1]

Niall de Buitléar

Out of Order

8th July – 20 August 2011, The LAB, Dublin

Niall de Buitléar, Untitled, white pencil on paper, 2010-2011;

courtesy of the artist.



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