Vae Victis

Solo exhibition featuring a collaboration with the artist David Lunney.

The Complex, Dublin, 3-9 September 2021.

Exhibition Statement:

In 390 BC, a group o Celts invaded and took over Rome. After lootin it, de chieftain Brennus agreed t fuck off if dey were paid a thousand pounds o gold. One o de Romans complained dat Brennus’ scales were tampered with, so Brennus threw his sword on dem and said: Vae Victis: Woe to the Vanquished, ye’ve lost so yer at me mercy, good luck to ye horse, slán leat.

...

Vae Victis is a series o paintins which were begun in 2019 after spendin a year on de colonised land o Tkaronto. Dey take as deir subject matter de suppression o de Celtic by de Roman Empire, de Christian Church and de British Empire. Dey are part of a larger cultural rebellion, me own 21st Century Celtic Revival, an attempt to decolonise de psyche somehow 100 years after de Irish Republic was formed.

Dese are anti-history paintins. Dey are anti-colonialism paintins. Dey are stories o me people, of victory, loss, tragedy, pain, embarrassment, betrayal, rebellion and revenge. Dey look down into some o de murkier pools of Irish history.

Dey are de work of a druid who seeks both physical and spiritual peace but cackles while stirrin up de bloody broth in his cauldron.

Dere has been no attempt by meself to be impartial or to represent Irishness as a whole, or to be consistent: de stories were chosen simply cos dey’ve stuck with me since I was a young lad or I’ve been drawn to dem in recent years. Dey are a response to me own experience as a postcolonial subject.

Dey are about men, women, both and neither.

Dey interweave myth with history, just as us Irish have done since day one.

Dey depict de Other, as victim and bloodthirsty savage and something else.

Us sackin de Romans and de Greeks. Roman Revenge. Boudica, de Celtic rebel who became a symbol o British nationalism. St. Patrick’s suppression o paganism. De death o Brian Boru. Aoife of Leinster becomin a war queen herself. De blood runnin down Dunlavin Green. De Walkin Gallows. Our often awkward relationships with other colonised peoples. Countess Markievicz de druidic gender-bender. Me grandfather’s stories o bein harassed by de Black and Tans. Roger Casement’s Black Diaries. De people o Naas bein shocked when de Bracken family openly supported de hunger strikers.

...

History, myth, selfhood, division, oneness, blood and honey are all fucked into me own bubblin cauldron. Drink yer mead, burn dem all in de Wicker Man and grow again.

Photographs by Marcus Cassidy. 

Beannaím an Tuaisceart: live druidic ritual at The Complex on the Vae Victis opening night.

Filmed by Paul McGrane