Amanda Coogan | ‘Mississippi Goddamn!’ | 2004 | Diamond mounted lamdachrome print | 122 x 91cm
Since the Arts Council collection was established in the early 1960s there has been a huge growth in the number of artists using the camera to create photographs and make moving image artworks. At this time when we are all looking at an abundance of images online, we wanted to highlight some key works in the collection. There are over 100 lens-based works in the collection, and we’ve selected 14 works that are maybe not as familiar to our audiences. Works in the exhibition were created between 1987 and 2013.
Here, Amanda Coogan, whose work is showcased under the ‘Four Decades of the Lens’ theme, tells us more about the featured artwork and what it means to have her artwork as part of the Arts Council collection. Explore this and more from the Arts Council collection at instagram.com/artscouncilireland/
A woman stands on a wall throwing milk into the air. (milk, I’m spilling milk!) The domestic wall her surrounding and enclosure. (It’s shot in my back garden - I lovingly tended those flowers at the base.) She wears a hot pink tracksuit. (I propose this as a super hero costume.) The camera is looking up at the body; the figure monumentally posed. (She is, I am, women are, bold.) The wind has whipped the woman’s hair into her eyes. (I remember that bit well, the irritation of hair in my eyes.) The photograph captures the moment of the explosion of the milk into a line of white fluid diagonally cutting the frame of the image. (I could mention Uccello here but let’s be frank; its about sex - a male orgasmic eruption made by her own hand - she’s in control.) The title of the work; Mississippi Goddamn, is taken from Nina Simone’s civil rights anthem of the same name (I have quoted many lines of this song as titles for my works. The white hot anger of the song and its call for equality inspires me constantly.) Milk, fluid connected to nurture and femininity is an archetypal female substance, is being thrown in the air. (oh yes it is, in celebration of the female body. There’s no point crying over spilt milk. Let’s proclaim it; a female artist making feminist work.)
The centrality of my practice is live performance. This reveals and develops a work as the confluence of audience and time flow over an action. In 2005 I made Mississippi Goddamn live for three hours at the Alive, Alive performance festival in Budva, Montenegro. Standing on their medieval wall I repeatedly threw milk into the air, hundreds of audience members in a horseshoe formation surrounding me. It was beautiful - the dusk covered me and the sprinkles of milks became starlets. We were all enthralled, the work was really cooking. A young man walked out of the crowd straight up to me and bent his shoulder into my legs. I fell. He caught me, threw me over his shoulder and carried me down the street. I was apoplectic with rage. The performance was over. But, by the time I sat on the plane home I knew this was a powerful piece of work.
Since 1962, the Arts Council has been buying art from working artists. The Collection that evolved tells the story of modern and contemporary Irish visual art in a unique and fascinating way. Today the Collection continues to grow and its more than 1,100 paintings, sculptures and other works are on display in public spaces all over Ireland for people to experience and enjoy first hand. You can find out more at: www.artscouncil.emuseum.com