2010: Malachi Farrell

2010: Malachi Farrell

Strange fruit

The mechanized or kinetic installations of Irish sculptor Malachi Farrell intertwine recuperated objects, movements, sounds and lights: a choreography that makes unashamedly use of the latest technologies to put the spectator to the test of danger.

Since her beginnings, the artist, who lives in France, has never ceased to denounce, in a way that is both burlesque and serious, the absurdity of a world subject to standardization and repetition, and which obstinately seems to want to program its own destruction. A work whose very Beckettian verve for the absurd evokes war, anti-globalization, intolerance, racism but also the environment.

The work Strange fruit refers to the poem "Strange fruit" (Strange fruit); it reminds us of the lynching of two black Americans whose bodies hung from trees had received the honors of the press. Written in the mid-1930s by Abel Meeropol (and published under his pen name Lewis Allen), a Jewish teacher from the Bronx, the latter, a little later, sets it to music; it will be performed for the first time by his wife and then, in 1939, by Billie Holiday. The song, considered one of the first American protest songs, foreshadowed the future struggles for civil rights in the United States in the 1950s. But Malachi Farrell's involvement was based more on the power of imagination than on political commitment. Here, the artist constructs a parallel between the lynching of the black man and the destruction of present-day man by social misery and ecological unconsciousness. In a frightening staging, he invites the visitor to walk down an unfamiliar street in an American neighborhood. Outside the buildings, a string of shoes hang by their laces from cables: also, how not to think of others hanged? The first exhibition room offers a landscape of destruction, the one perpetrated by Hurricane Katrina; further on, the installation Crack house propels the spectator into a chaotic universe where the floor littered with garbage ends up on the ceiling, threatening to engulf the visitor.

In a style that expresses all the Irish exuberance, Malachi Farrell's installations play on caricature and irony with frenzy and a certain brutality. The work becomes militant, haranguing the public to awaken consciences and hope for a better world.