Stigma Damages
A solo exhibition by Michele Horrigan

Curated by Orlaith Treacy

Occupy Space, Leamy House, Hartstonge St. Limerick

Preview: July 24th 7pm; Michele Horrigan in conversation with Martin McCabe a DIT Fellow in the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media
Open: July 25th – August 23rd / Wed - Sat. 12-5pm

Occupy Space are delighted to present Michele Horrigan’s solo exhibition Stigma Damages. For several years, Horrigan has been following an exploratory trail of investigation around the mineral ore bauxite. Imported from Guinea in Africa into Ireland’s largest industrial complex in Horrigan’s hometown of Askeaton, bauxite is then refined and smelted to become aluminium, the world’s most versatile metal used in computer parts and engines, drink cans and airplanes. 

The weight of aluminium makes up 8% of the earth’s crust; 80% of an airplane is aluminium; One tonne of aluminium will make over 60,000 Coca Cola, Pepsi or Budweiser cans.  These are some of the facts.  But what about the residues of this modern manufacturing miracle? What exists outside its streamlined process and what are the subjective experiences to be had in a long-term mediation? Horrigan’s exhibition sees aluminium act as a surreal motif. Postal stamps depicting Mickey Mouse working in an African mine compare to images of industrial complexes visited in the UK, France and the United States. A complication of promotional videos call for the growth and sustainability of the material in the modernist world, sited beside rocks sourced from the first open bauxite quarry of the nineteenth century in southern France. A perspex container gathers up aluminium products sourced around the Hartstonge street neighbourhood during the exhibition’s installation.

At the centre of the show are two disparate gestures by the artist, each further questioning the role of the personal in relationship to the pervasiveness of global manufacturing. Working at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Aberdeenshire, Horrigan made an aluminium replica of the apex of the Washington Memorial, remembering the shape given to the Masonic all-seeing eye of imperialism made from the world’s most precious metal in 1884. Then, in a field close to a refinery with chimney stacks divulging a steady stream of smoke, Horrigan is seen glibly re-enacting dance scenes from the 1983 movie Flashdance, where a heroine works in Pittsburgh’s mills while at night pursues her real dream of dancing. Here, Horrigan’s exhibition title, Stigma Damages seems pertinent. Used as a legal term to describe possible loss or suspected contamination due to environmental circumstance, both her actions seem to exist as a consequence or personal reaction to the rest of material on show, as a sensibility borne out of the disaffection of the individual against global flow and capital.

Michele Horrigan works in London and Askeaton, County Limerick as an artist and curator. Previous exhibitions include the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main, Limerick City Gallery of Art and Gallery of Photography, Dublin. She is the founder of Askeaton Contemporary Arts, and has recently curated shows in Carlow, Dublin and Amsterdam. 

Documentation of Stigma Damages