Edward & Arlette, 2014
video projection, 15 minutes
“Edwart & Arlette” is an adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box", published in 1892.
Characters, dialogue and settings however, have all been significantly reworked where the audience becomes the detective as Sherlock has been removed from the narrative. Phelan constructs is films using found texts and images that are combined to form dialogue and shot design. In this case, the central characters modelled on a photograph of a French TV art critic Edwart Vignot and Musée du Louvre curator Arlette Sérullaz. The pair have published a book on ‘hands’ in the Louvre collections. The dialogue was constructed from text on found images of hands which were collected over a year, mostly on social media. These also formed part of a public research curated project called “Handjob” where Phelan exhibited ideas and re-made artworks from 10 artists. The words and sentence fragments found on the images were developed into dialogue and remain in the order they were found, forcing the narrative to take some unexpected turns. For further information see http://www.alanphelan.com/handjob/index.htm and http://www.alanphelan.com/edwart/index.htm
Just as Conan Doyle was inspired by Giovanni Moreilli in his construction of the Holmes character, so too is Phelan, in demanding that we look at the small detail for clues. The Moreilli technique was a mid nineteenth century identification technique for paintings – by following the unconscious traces left behind by the artist, in this instance the rendering of ears or hands, which tend to have a unique identity, a lot like fingerprints at a crime scene. But as grand narratives and notions of authorship have been shattered and moreover diffused, the shifting parameters of meaning are now mandated to embrace chance and intuition in connecting to a real world of possibilities where meaning is not so pre-determined.
The Moreilli connection continues in the film Phelan will show for the “Meet our artists” event on 7 June, 2016 at 19:30 where he will screen and discuss his most recent film “Our Kind” which is currently on show in Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.
ALAN PHELAN studied at DCU and RIT, New York. He has exhibited widely internationally including BOZAR, Brussels; Whitney Museum, New York; Chapter, Cardiff; Treignac Projet; SKUC, Ljubljana; Feinkost, Berlin; OK11, Helsinki; Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai; Galería Del Infinito Arte, Buenos Aires. In Ireland exhibitions include IMMA, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane; Oonagh Young Gallery, mother’s tankstation, Dublin; MCAC, Portadown; LCGA, Limerick; Solstice, Navan and The Black Mariah, Cork.
“What is the meaning of it, Watson?” said Holmes solemnly as he laid down the paper. “What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever.”
The final paragraph from The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1892