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Eoin O'Dowd: Looking to the Future artist spotlight

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

To continue celebrating the release of the Looking to the Future online archive we are talking to Dublin and Helsinki based artist Eoin O'Dowd who will discuss his practice consisting of reassembled paper collage and animated CGI video work which he uses to question the traditional perceptions of masculinity and pose a more contemporary and less problematic representation.

Image description: a landscape poster depicting a a close up shot of flower petals in a sickly deep red tint. Bold white text in the centre reads Eoin O'Dowd, underneath in a smaller font reads

Can you introduce yourself and your practice?

I am an artist and curator from Dublin, living and working in Helsinki.

I work primarily with collage, material and video, and make use of CGI, found and authentic footage.

What do you draw inspiration from within your projects?

Recurring tropes are ceremonial and votive imagery, and disjointed dreamlike narratives.

The work lends heavily on those historical traditions. The emotive quality of memory and experience are the springboard of each project.

Eoin O'Dowd, Flora Reassembled, paper collage, 2020

Image description, a portrait collage depicting a woman in traditional period clothing sat in front of a grey floral backdrop. White flowers appear to grow up from her wait and black plants grow up her exposed chest, throat and face.

What drew you to a practice exploring video and collage?

Initially I practiced as a painter, and though drawing is still the first step to realising most works, I was drawn to the immediacy of these mediums and their freedom to deconstruct.

The romance of Dada and Avant Garde film, led me to the collage and video work of artists like Maya Derren, Kenneth Anger, Sergei Parajanov, and Ailbhe Ni Bhriain which all contain a profound kind of tableau vivant - rich with possibility.

You have described your work as being concerned with the frustration and fragility surrounding masculinity. What drew you to exploring this?

I think we are living through an opportunity to redefine whatever masculinity is, how it's experienced and understand the dangers current practices present. I believe an introspective approach can mirror wider shared experience.

The frequent use of frenetic and brooding imagery in much of my work for example, is an outlet for a cathartic contextualization of violent experiences, which were born of the circumstances masculinity's social failures can produce.

Eoin O'Dowd, Madonna of Bruges Reassembled, paper collage, 2021.

Image description: a black and white photo of a traditional plaster statue's face. It has been obscured with a collage of paper cut into interweaving circular patterns.

Within your films how do you source imagery and sound to create such a visceral audio-visual experience?

The aesthetic preference comes largely from an interest and abundant exposure to votive and religious symbolism, namely Christian mysticism and folklore.

I try to use images that are both collectively familiar but vague enough so as not to be didactic. Whether the image informs the sound or vice versa depends on the project, but I aim for the sound to be similarly enveloping and nebulous.

What one thing would you like to change about the art industry today?

Institutional classism and clique monopolizing.

We recently showcased your short film ‘Porticullis Gusset I’ as part of the Looking to the Future film screening. Can you give us an insight into how this film was created and the concepts you present?

Originally intended as accompanying visuals to live noise performances, I'd hoped to evoke a dreamlike experience. I used a variety of sources and editing techniques to make innate visuals in response to the original music. The film does not carry a polemic but integrates archetypal scenery and violent allegorical motifs meant to hint at a collective hidden narrative.

Eoin O'Dowd, PORTCULLIS GUSSET i - intersecting erection by Luxury Mollusc, video, 12:37min, 2020

Video description: the video depicts an evolving set of disorientating layered animations in black and white. The visuals are accompanied by a chaotic and textured sound piece.

You describe your process as a delicate meditative process of reassemblage. How does this process differ between working with video to physical paper collage?

My paper collage process is confined by material, video is confined by technical ability to generate image to a satisfactory degree. Both processes contain a lot of repetition towards an end goal that is only vaguely defined in mind. As such you feel your way through the project until you arrive at what you deem a presentable outcome.

In your recent film ‘Emotional Illiteracy II ’ you make use of distorted audio and vivid red visuals. What was your process behind this film and the themes you portray?

This work has been received as being reminiscent of trance or prayer. I suppose not least due to the religious audio. The work is never pious nor strictly thematic, though I'd hoped the images, which are flowers, would evoke something of flesh, the visceral, transubstantiation of blood and wine, etc.

Eoin O'Dowd, Emotional Illiteracy II, video 7:13 min, 2020

Video description: the video involves a slow moving close up shot of flower petals in a blood like tint of red. The image slowly moves down as atmospheric religious sermon music.

What are you working on now and what might you be doing moving forwards?

Currently I am on a recent residency where I took the opportunity to experiment more with sound. There I made a number of instruments from scrap material and gave a live performance with accompanying visuals. Whereas I have often created visuals in response to another artist's sound, I hope to peruse this self directed performative venture some more.

If you would like to see more of Eoin's work you can view there website here, as well as on Instagram @eoinyboney.

Eoin O'Dowd's work alongside others can still be viewed in the Looking to the Future digital archive here.

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