//IN CONVERSATION//

Hannah Mooney, Artist; Nicol Phillips, Gallery Coordinator

Hannah Mooney is a Bristol-based Contemporary artist from Dublin. She graduated in 2012 with First Class Honors in BA Fine Art Media from the National College of Art and Design, Ireland. Hannah works primarily in video/ installation and since her degree has exhibited and worked across the UK. 

Hannah’s latest exhibition ‘But Never Mind’ runs from 19 June – 31 July in The LAB, Dublin.

N: How did the collaboration with The LAB arise?

H: After my degree show they contacted me to discuss my work and see where I was going with it. Since we have been talking back and forth, and this show presents a collection of new video works I have been developing over the last few months.

N: What have you been up to since you graduated?

H: When I finished studying I moved to Bristol to intern with Paul Harrison and John Wood, which developed into a Studio Assistant position in Spike Island. So alongside my own practice I help out the boys with everything from test runs, set design and filming.

N: How has working with Harrison and Wood informed your own practice?

H: Working alongside two established artists has taught me a lot in terms of preparation and the logistics of video. Spike Island is a really vibrant and thriving artistic community that has enabled me to immerse myself in creative discussion and practice. I have never really seen an organisation like it before and feel privileged to be part of such an exciting hub.

N: You present a split-screen format in the majority of your video pieces – what appeals to you about this way of working?

H: Well, I think language is arbitrary to emotion in the same way the split-screen images have no relation to each other. When presented together a new dialogue is sparked. It’s as if [pause] these instantaneous burps generate a connection.

N: I’ve seen your work over the last two years and humour seems to be a key element. The comparisons appear almost tongue in cheek – do you like this playful aspect?

H: For me, humour is a useful tool in engaging the audience. I never set out to create a slap-sick scenario but I am not afraid of comical responses to my work

N: not afraid?

H: I just think there is a fear that ‘funny’ work isn’t serious work – you’re allowed to laugh and it doesn’t make my sentiment a joke. Laughter is a valid response. [Pause] Also, comparisons between emotion and the impossibility of re-presenting emotion are funny because they are in themselves absurd.

N: Do you think video is capable of communicating intense feelings more so than language?

H: Language doesn’t express the physicality of emotion. I use the short video format, which in itself is fleeting, to mimic/evoke the immediacy of intense feeling. However, when re-presented in video form, the desired level of intensity – things like heartbreak, elation, are nullified and appear insincere and tacky.

N: You mention heartbreak and elation – two strong emotions.

H: You know, in those moments when you get so into a song it becomes you and you are the 4th member of Destiny’s Child – or, when you’ve had such a good cry in the mirror you become a parody of yourself. These tend to be the motivations that spur my work on.

N: You also work with collage and objects?

H: For me, these tangible extensions of my videos have filmic elements: objects have a freeze-frame quality and my collage especially relates to pre-prepared stills. Through these multi-dimensional installations I want to encourage new readings of my work but also, in some ways, re-enforce the original concept.

N: Aside from humour, is the unachievable central to your practice?

H: The shortfalls of language in relation to expressing raw emotion tie in to the artificial nature of a light being turned off and a candle blowing out. Even if the sentiment and intention is sincere it can never be fully realised in any other form. I think it is this underlying sense of failure that resonates.

N: Do you think through this conversation the sentiment of the work is lost somewhat?

H: [Laughs] Yeah probably, but never mind.

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