Orla Lou Mc Nally
Cultural nostalgia is an emotion that can be evoked by reconnecting with cultural paraphernalia and imagery from a past context, triggering personal experiences and memories. It has been described as ‘a set of shared signs that can characterise an era’. Orla’s current practice has evolved from an enquiry into the shared representational signs of 80s and 90s popular visual culture. Within the work she aims to capture the aesthetic of this recently past era, using a mash-up technique to evoke a chaotic, playful madness.
The imagery and objects appropriated are sourced from the artist’s early personal experiences of culture; i.e. mainstream popular culture of the late 80s and 90s. While rooted in personal experience, the imagery is a representation of a shared culture. The subject matter of this work resonates with an audience who have experienced this visual culture and understand the imagery as a representational language.
The reactionary feeling/emotion that this imagery can evoke interests the artist. Orla has a curiosity for nostalgia, theories of the subconscious and psychoanalytic approaches to culture and the self. The theme of nostalgic connection and synchronal disconnection runs throughout her work.
Notes by Ronan McCrea on my thesis!
Orla McNally. Cultural Nostalgia and Contemporary Art: Taking in the Trash
Orla’sthesis is centred in an interestof mash-up and scratch video artists of the 80s as well as more recent artistssuch as Cory Arcangel and Jacob Ciocci. The idea of appropriating popular visual culture from one’s childhood experience( TV, graphics, magazines, music, comics) is present in Orla’s studio work and is mirrored in the strategiesof these artists. Orla identifies nostalgia as the key idea that links these practices to a widercultural context.
InChapter 1 & 2, Orla tries to conceptualize nostalgia through historicaldefinitions (very interesting); then through psychology; and then throughparadigm of postmodernism (Jameson and Lyotard). This leads to an explicationof modernism (totality and originality), the avant-garde (Dada, fragmentationetc) and psychoanalysis (Lacan! ) This level of theory can be difficult for an undergraduate, but Orlamakes a good attempt, drawing on many good quality sources, and showing anexcellent facility to synthesize multiple sources.
Chapter2 draws on Cultural Studies approach (Stuart Hall) leading to explications ofsemiotics, structuralism, and even Derrida. The chapter returns to psychology,and for the Orla this research on nostalgia is more direct and resonant andultimately trumps cultural theory as an explanation of the functions ofnostalgia.
Thefinal chapter deals with the work of the artists mentioned above. This section is more descriptive. In terms of postmodernism what isinteresting in Archangel and Orla’s work is that the classic postmodern tropesof distance and irony are displaced by positions of the fandom and even love. Orla draws on psychology research to re-cast nostalgia as a positivecharacteristic – a kind of Koonsian position (without the cheesy smirk) – butmore authentic to lived experience than Koons could ever be.
Chapter 3could have had more depth than breath, and more analysis than description. Overall excellent research and reading, and high level of commitment and ambition.
Artist Statement (march ‘12)
Orla Mc Nally
12th March 2012
Cultural nostalgia is an emotion that can be evoked by reconnecting with cultural paraphernalia and imagery from a past context, triggering personal experiences and memories. It has been described as ‘a set of shared signs that can characterise an era’. An important aspect of my practice is the reactionary feeling/emotion that the imagery can evoke.
The imagery and objects that are used in my work are sourced from my early personal experiences of culture; i.e. mainstream popular culture of the late 80s and 90s. The aesthetic of the work is bold and colourful, inspired by the pop art era. While rooted in personal experience, the imagery I have been appropriating is a representation of a shared culture. The subject matter of this work resonates with an audience who have experienced this visual culture and understand the imagery as a representational language.
My current practice has evolved from an enquiry into the shared representational signs of 80s and 90s popular visual culture. Within my work I aim to capture the aesthetic of this recently past era, using a mash-up technique to evoke a chaotic, playful madness.
I am interested in ‘found’ art or ‘junk’ art, as well as the aesthetic of pop art, lo-fi and lowbrow art. By using images of ‘discarded’ popular culture of the 80s and 90s, the work takes on the aesthetic of the appropriated subject.
The mash-up quality of my work has evolved from the compulsion to use a lot of images together. The outcomes are within varied media – including painting, drawing, collage, video, animation and assemblage. I like to create collage-style drawings and digital images, which would then be deconstructed to create new compositions through drawing, painting, collage and further digital manipulation. I like to experiment with fragmentation and combinations of mediums.
The thought recently occurred to me that maybe I should cut some mediums and focus on one or two. I have asked myself which are the most effective and relevant mediums to serve the character of my work. However, my most recent production was a piece that collaborated video, assemblage and painted object. Because the character of my work is chaotic and playful, it makes sense that multiple mediums could bounce and feed off each other, creating more movement and density. Therefore, instead of cutting parts of my practice and establishing a focal medium, I am working towards using several mediums together for the degree show.