The Midden Heap


On view: June 11- July 31, 2016
Opening Reception: Saturday June 11, 6-9pm
Daily hours: Tuesday- Friday 12-5 by appt, Saturday and Sunday 12-5
Admission cost: none

Exhibition Description:
James Joyce’s daunting, experimental novel Finnegans Wake is the basis for the Midden Heap Project. In order to create Finnegans Wake Joyce mined a personal and cultural multi-layered midden of family stories, historical events, world mythologies, popular songs, jokes, children’s games, and dozens of works of literature. One reading of the Wake is that it is a massive recycling machine, transforming its sources to create a grand collage, containing fragments of nearly everything.
The exhibition references a key passage, known as The House of the Haunted Ink Bottle, from the seventh chapter of Finnegans Wake. In this house, the artist Shem, an “alshemist” and a stand-in for Joyce himself, has an enormous rubbish heap. The magpie list of the midden goes on for a full page. The objects are by turns, familiar and obscure, manufactured and corporeal, hilarious and nostalgic. Shem’s midden heap becomes a metaphor for artistic creation as he transforms the objects that litter his house into art.
The work in The Midden Heap Project shares this collage aesthetic. Heather Ryan Kelley is in the midst of a project of creating a collage-per-page of Finnegans Wake; and based upon the collages she is making a series of artists books. On view will be a selection of the collages and all of the artist books related to pages one through 216 of the Wake.
There will be two listening stations with works by the sound artists Jonathan Nelson and Bernard Clarke. Nelson’s The House of the Haunted Ink Bottle is a sound collage consisting of hundreds of vocal fragments that form a reading of pages 182-184 of Finnegans Wake. Clarke has made a series of recordings and sound collages of materials culled from Ireland’s National Radio RTÉ archives. Clarke also will present his lively and inventive reading of page one of Finnegans Wake.

Featured Artists: Heather Ryan Kelley, Jonathan Nelson, and Bernard Clarke