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Follow the Line
by Karen Cunningham

Hennessey says that she is interested in “mystery and the emotional response illcited by objects, things and films” and within her work there is a strong sense of an intuitive relationship between artist, object and composition yet her work also - and perhaps overridingly - appears rational, restrictive and sober. Hennessey’s practice is moving towards becoming an exercise in control.

There are no representations of human form in A Temporary End and to my knowledge there are none in Hennessey’s previous works. Even with the pieces that physically occupy space our interaction with them is primarily cerebral. We admit the works into our psyche as symbolic objects and images which together seem to form part of a larger order of meaning and which rather than manifesting an image of ourselves in our minds eye as we stand amongst them, invoke notions of the machine, technology and the institution.

The predominance of black objects (both constructed and purchased) in Hennessy’s work in general brings forth visions of 80’s and early 90’s mainstream design or rather the revisiting of Constructivist and Bauhaus aesthetics at that time - the omnipresence of black faux wood furniture and the popularity of tubular steel coffee tables. Although on first glance A Temporary End  seems to be a black and white affair colour creeps in. The image on the lightbox, despite appearing drained of colour has cyans, yellows and magentas, the color temperature of the light bulb (which forms a component of the sculpture) emits a yellowish glow and the video projection of the black and white snowy lines (videoed from a TV screen) although rendered black and white in the editing process is tinged with bright colour, visible only when you see the work out of the corner of your eye.

The ‘line’ appears in various forms in the exhibition and alludes not so much to drawing or mark making but to the inherent qualities of the line in itself. The black electrical cord stretching from wall socket to light fixture, the visible/invisible trajectory of the airplane, the shaky horizontal lines in the video, these emphasize start and end points, ‘temporary’ or otherwise. A line whether short or long, drawn or imagined ultimately signifies the passage from past to present and future.

Hennessy sites two films as influencing this particular body of work, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (William Dieterle’s 1939 version) and David Lynchs The Elephant Man (1980). The singularity of the protagonists experience in those films is in some way carried through to the works in A Temporary End, you do feel as though you should be viewing them alone. But I prefer to relate the works toChris Markers short film La jetée (1962). Like the two aforementioned works of cinema it tells the story of the unique experience of an individual (simply called ‘The Man’) but unlike the other films La jetée is set in the near future (post WW3 Paris) and is made up almost entirely of filmed photographs* with the exception of a brief ‘film’ segment of a woman blinking, slowly. The film, an exceptional work of science fiction, uses the notion of time travel in a subtle and poetic manner as a device with which to question the subjectivity of experience. For me it is this interest in singular viewpoints, the oscillation between near past and near future and the consideration of the physical limitations of the materials world in La jetée that seems to resonate within A Temporary End. 

*  These are not stills culled from a film but are actual 35 mm photographs


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