On the roof, a late afternoon blue sky colours the rooftops of Dublin City in optimism, relative to the dull fluorescence in the attic. While watching the video you become self-conscious of your location in the attic; timber, felt and slate separating you from what was Watt and von Knobloch in their come-and-gone rooftop excursion. Threading lightly – evidently self-conscious of the inhabitants below – the pair make their way along valley gutters towards an incongruous, olive green roof door that they unhinge from its hold. Here they squat, rummage through a bag and unroll a wooden rung rope ladder down into the bowels of what is, a derelict Georgian house a-few-doors-down from where they started. The compressed 4:3 aspect offered by Watt’s modest camera ‘fisheyes’ the grandeur of the Georgian rooms, which carry off a decorated history of brave colours – cardinal, viridian, mustard – albeit the painted and papered surfaces a little worse for wear. The climb down from the roof on the rope ladder is, ironically, when the adventure peters out. Upstairs/downstairs, both artists gravitate towards aesthetic details and traces of a once lived and now vacated home (a pile of junk mail gathers in the entrance hall).


What makes ‘Opening’ resonate is its experiential generosity. Invited into the artist’s home and led through his house to the attic, the spectator ends up being given a chance to live vicariously through the documented adventure which took place just above their head. Thus the documentation is elevated to a happening. The whole production feels spontaneous, even though the adventure was predetermined, it’s executed with a casual precision that seemingly unfolds in the present.


American artist Dan Graham once said that “All artists are alike. They dream of doing something that’s more social, more collaborative, and more real than art.” The ‘Basic Space Generation’ (If I may call them that for lack of a better name) time and time again achieve something bordering on this dream. Watt’s soft ‘break and entry’ at Seville Place is another example of this aspiration to elevate art above ART. Up to now, however, there has been no evidence of a white gallery wall to thread the biography of his artworks together, which makes the work all the more appealing and enigmatic. The art projects that Watt has partaken in have the lasting effect of those one-off events that cling to the memory; events that, if replicated in the gallery would only sour the itinerant original. Lying somewhere between ‘Post-Studio’ and post-Minimalism, art critic Graig Owens rightly observed that, to label art practices is to subjugate them. Watt’s practice is a combination of fantasy, realism and romance for the path less travelled. Unlabeled, unbranded, and homeless, the hope is opportunities come Tom Watt’s way; that is, opportunities of his own making.


Runs till 3 November (by appointment)



Notes


1    Mention of Tom Watt’s degree show in +billion_’s  review of Dublin Degree shows (2011): here

2    +billion_ review of ‘Underground’, Basis Space, Dublin, 2011: here

3    ‘Resort’ website: [http://apopulardestination.wordpress.com]

‘Winter Resort’ report: VAN July/August 2013: Residency Report | Clare Breen ‘Into the Unknown’:

[http://visualartists.ie/articles/van-julyaugust-2013-residency-report-clare-breen-into-the-unknown/]

OCTOBER_2013_


The Path Less Travelled

TOM WATT
‘Opening’

8 Seville Place, Dublin

10 October  – 3 November, 2013


TOM WATT

Opening (2013)

Stills

8 Seville Place, Dublin

Courtesy of the artist

Top left photo: Daniel Finnegan

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