Six questions for
Eoghan Ryan

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Eoghan Ryan.

Artist Eoghan Ryan
Lives in The Netherlands and Brussels, Belgium

How do you describe your own art practice?

The term that I am most comfortable with is ‘editing’. I am an editor and I make video installations and performances. These often extend to drawing, text and wall collage. The common ground that each of the works share is an exploration of the gap; when the exception becomes the rule. This has meant exploring the gap between public space and private trauma, language and nonsense, individualism and collectivism, power and anarchy, headless-ness and godliness, acting and reacting – whilst always remaining in the arena of being too close. By ‘too close’, I mean taking full account of both the format and context that my practice exists within as a method of acknowledging my access to material. As such, my practice usually has a perverse relationship to institutions – in their expanded definitions – as sites of formative significance.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

The question that always stays with me is how am I instrumentalized, or where does my power lie, and how can this be folded into a collective discourse to expand the remits of reference?  This then expands to figuring out how  to indulge in, or utilize an often-paralyzing pessimism in a way that is interesting, urgent, or theatrical. For instance, how do I pull something from the newspaper and explode it into a narrative theatre? What is leaking out of the screen onto the spectator?

What was your first experience with art?

I remember going to the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt when I was very young with my parents. It has a massive installation of Joseph Beuys works; I think the largest in the world. Alongside this, there are Dinosaur skeletons, a T Rex, a Stegosaurus etc. At the time, there was also a lot of scaffolding. So, my first experience of art that I remember was Beuys, Dinosaurs and scaffolding.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

For the last 15 years, my process has been heavily influenced by newspaper clippings, sent in packages to me by my father bi-weekly. The selection of what he sends is loosely informed by our conversations. I might ask him to send images of sinkholes, or teargas or Greta Thunberg or flamboyance; perhaps even just images that have a predominant color. I then sort these images into categories based on association and theme. This process has led to the accumulation of hundreds of images and text which I have incorporated in my work in different ways from literal wallpaper, to video, educational workshops and performance. I do this, because I think a lot about access to imagery, and the tactile limitations of having an archive of ongoing images offline. I am interested in how you can ossify moments in time through collage, in repetition and editing, in how a single image or headline can be pulled from the newspaper, recontextualized and made into a narrative theatre.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Very little, or a lot; it depends. I work with what is available to me. Usually I need the newest iPhone and a camcorder, a screen and good speakers. If I need to, I can rent more specific duty equipment or a dance studio. The main thing I need is a stage because my work is always intended for a live audience.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I recently went to the choreographer Ligia Lewis’s show A Plot/A Scandal at Beurschouwberg in Brussels. I have seen her work previous, but this was decidedly different, really on the nose and theatrical. It deals directly with the complicated history of race and oppression and its links to property and ownership, but then breaks it down in extremely complicated and nuanced ways. There is a clear binary, played out cartoonishly on both sides by Ligia Lewis, and then this is scrambled and perverted, ending with a question. I thought it was awesome.

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