Transplant project featured in Új Művészet (New Art) contemporary art magazine

The Centre for Fine Print Research Transplant project and virtual exhibition has been featured in the Hungarian Art publication Új Művészet. The article is available in English below. Translation by Judit Albert.

Article by Dr Andrea Bordács, ELTE Savaria University Centre, Szombathely, Hungary

Cecilia Mandrile, Niamh Fahy, Sonny Lightfoot, Tom McDonagh

3D virtual exhibition, HEAA Gallery, Budapest. Curated by Ágnes HAász, 3D Visualization by Judit Albert.

Museum virtual tours began around the early 2000’s, when many museums around the world tried to virtually introduce themselves. At that time very quickly, such walks were made in Hungary as well, but after the initial enthusiasm, most of them disappeared from the websites of the institutions.

As to the exact reasons there are only assumptions, such as that there may not have been such a high demand from the public at the time and many institutions may have worried that if they can tour their spaces virtually then people will not visit them in person.

However, even then this seemed an unrealistic assumption, since demonstrably who can be encountered in many forms, locations are the most visited artists. For example, the more times a work is seen, the greater the personal interest will be in it.

Due to the psychology of this, it is ruled out that virtual tours would reduce attendance. The current situation also demonstrates that such tools, on the contrary, tend to help retain visitors.  As for the disappearance of existing ones in many cases is because of server changes, newer formats.

In the early 2000’s, not only virtual tours, but whole websites were flash animated, sometimes accompanied by sound were fashionable.

Today, websites have become much simpler, clearer and have changed a lot since they have to satisfy mobile devices usage as well.

The pandemic contributed significantly to the rise of online exhibitions, but nevertheless the third exhibition in the HEAA Gallery’s 3D Virtual Exhibition Series, Transplant – Between the Tangible and the Virtual, is an international project that was originally planned for online exhibition.

The Argentine Cecilia Mandrile’s doll-puppet project was rethought by Irish Niamh Fahy, British Sonny Lightfoot and Tom McDonagh.

Hence the title, transplantation, as Mandrile’s work is translated into their own work: the starting point of the collaborative work in the project became to be a sad self-portrait doll that through temporary and changing media, different technological processes, and different geographical areas has been migrating with Mandrile for more than two decades.

This is not the first time that Cecilia Mandrile has an exhibition in Hungary. In 2012 she was the winner of the international exhibition of the Hungarian Electrographic Society / HEAA STICKERS, in 2014 the Arten Gallery presented her works.

The current group exhibition is a joint project reflecting on her work, which can be seen in HEAA’s virtual gallery.

In 2020, she had an online exhibition not only in the HEAA gallery in Budapest, but also in Bilbao, on the online interface of the Fundación´ace para el Arte Contemporáneo.

In Cecilia Mandrile’s work we can find the most varied techniques: paper, printing, ceramic-porcelain, installation, photo, piece object, etc. Whichever technique she uses, her work is inspired by basically the aesthetics of human copy, imitation and displacement.

A  doll is a human imitation that can be a lovely-charming game for kids, but sometimes it might turn into something quite scary. An artificial man, a human imitation that has traditionally helped little girls learn certain female stereotypical behaviours, is more like frightening.  A doll is also synonymous with controlled, involuntary persons, or even the expression of emotionlessness. Not to accidentally associate with a sweet-charming children’s play in this project, the exhibition provides rhythm-knocking, psychedelic noise music from Copper Sounds that can be heard throughout.

Doll inspirations for Cecilia Mandrile are three puppets with similar faces but made with different techniques. The prototype seems to be given by the stylized doll made of porcelain, which is the most active, and danced, and acts like a puppet animation.

The fragile porcelain doll is a metaphor for the fragility of the physical and human soul. This porcelain doll looks quite different from what we know, unlike the beautifully dressed porcelain-headed dolls.

Mandrile’s doll is flat and stylized. The following are imprints of this, so much that the third already evokes a graphic print which contains an extra added element, a baby held in its hand.

Tom McDonagh’s animation of Mandrile’s doll puts its head in a different context, making it a stand-alone entity, evoking a playful moon with a face, spinning in the backlight, quite reminiscent of Michel Gondry’s fantastic, surreal visual technique.

Niamh Fahy, who mainly deals with photography and reproduced graphics and her main theme is the landscape, has reduced the imprint of Mandrile’s pieces to almost a map-like landscape photographed from above, and only a closer look shows the baby shapes.

Sonny Lightfoot also worked on the subject along the idea of man imprint – landscape.

Lightfoot’s outlined puppets replace the residents in front of the photo-like houses.

Mandrile’s works carried in a suitcase travel the world almost as man has traversed and lived it.

Together, the four creators present us the imprint of man as a kind of creative or peculiar archaeological find. At the same time, their work does not rest, as the virtual exhibition shows the dolls in a slow but continuous movement and rotation, accompanied by the already mentioned spooky sound effects.

Budapest, January 20, 2021

To top