Bodies of Water review: Sly meditation on life, art and what’s left behind
Dublin Fringe Festival: The former assistant and lover of a video artist tries to make sense of a life and career
Bodies of Water: the life of artist Ira Dean is explored through the flotsam and jetsam of a career. Photograph: Alex Gill
BODIES OF WATER
The Chocolate Factory, Dublin
The artist is not present in this thorough retrospective of the work of Ira Dean, who disappeared at sea 10 years ago, leaving behind a modest body of work and no body.
What remains, in this elaborate presentation from Eoghan Carrick, Maeve Stone, Jonah King and Úna Kavanagh, are the flotsam and jetsam of a career: a short series of multi-screen video pieces, some glass sculptures, sketchbooks, and Jan Kavanagh (Kavanagh). This nervous curator is the artist’s one-time assistant and lover, or as she evocatively puts it, “her shadow”.
Dean’s work makes a greater impression (the exhibition is real, though the artist is not), where a fixation with death, water and plastic, and her body as a site of practice, is at the intersection of feminism, climate change and visual-arts jargon.
But her relationship with Jan is more fascinating, revealed in incautious ad-libs, non-curated glimpses and Jan as a site of infatuation, betrayal and abandonment. Like the North Atlantic garbage patch, Dean’s last known whereabouts, her enduring plastic bottles, or the guilty evidence of art, it’s a sly meditation on all we leave behind.