Thursday 12 April 2012

Catriona Gallagher: Door (fittings and fixtures not included), 2012

In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel walks into the void and encounters an object. That object is a tree. But also, for some reason, a non-tree at the same time. I also didn’t understand the whole passage Hegel wrote that led up to encountering the tree, so actually what I should have said is:
Hegel, equipped with some kind of form of self awareness, encounters a tree in the dark, which is an object. So Hegel is the subject, or is he aware of that already? I can’t remember, and reading Hegel sure as fuck doesn’t help, either. So, what I should have said is:
There is this term called subject-object relationship, and it somehow reminds me of something I thought I understood when reading Hegel, but clearly, I can’t recall any of it.

In relation to Catriona Gallagher’s piece, in which she replaced the handle, lock and hinges of a door with latex versions, what I’m saying is: Hegel, equipped with some kind of awareness-logic, walks/floats into the void/non-void and encounters/non-encounters a tree/non-tree. Part of the tree/ the non-parts of the non-tree are made out of latex, and Hegel goes: What the fuck is this shit?

As Michael Craig-Martin, former MI5 employee so rightly taught us with his infamous lecture series “An Oak Tree” nothing is as it seems. However here it seems right to assume that this is a door and not a tree. Further investigation of the photograph shows strong evidence that it has been painted. The methodology and syntax used in this application renders the door beyond sculpture and into the realm of abstract expressionism where the acknowledgement of its lack of flatness places it firmly back within the sculptural realm. The sexual (but safe) connotations of the latex make it clear that this piece is responding to that infamous surrealist poem by Isidore Isou, “Painting and Kissing”. As Isou so rightly states “The first time that she came to my house, she bought Chardonnay, now I buy Chardonnay, almost every day. And as her kissing got worse, oh her paintings improved, but what does that prove, it proves nothing. On March the 23 rd she said something so absurd, She said ‘You love to be in love, but you’re never really in love.’” Never has a truer word been spoken, Hegel might be going what the fuck is this shit, but Isou already knows.

I do want to underline here, though, that I won’t be making love to these door’s/non-door’s fittings, however safe they are. The latex surely does have its sexual allure, but that won’t tempt me into becoming part of a visual homoerotic pun when my manhood approaches a latex knob. Oddly enough the photograph of Gallagher’s latex knob looks remarkably similar to photos I’ve taken of myself.
But what is it then that happens in between Hegel and Isou? It’s not a door, nor a tree, nor a non-door/non-tree, it’s not love; it’s a door that would love to be a door, but never really has been a door - just look at its tilt!
That’s not how any professional door would position itself in the room. There are certain standards in that profession, and I have many friends, who are, by the way, doors, who would frown over such ridiculous amateurish display of lack of professionalism. Even in the art scene there are doors who can handle themselves a lot better than that.

This isn't a door!
I think you’ve for once managed to get to the heart of the issue there. By saying “however safe they are” with regards to the fittings you emphasise the fact that they are in fact not at all safe. It is also clear that the angle of the door is indeed highly unorthodox. I would prefer to see it at 90º to the floor, in a vertical position. Whilst we all had a laugh during post-modernism I think the late-2000s recession really merits a serious re-consideration of the artists role in society.


  1. Door to sit at a 90º angle
  2. Door to sit at a 90º angle within some sort of gap in the wall, creating a liminal zone of wall/none wall
  3. Fittings to be replaced with similar fittings that have been crafted in a more practical material.
  4. More practical material to be chosen strictly on the basis of practicality
  5. Door to be replaced with a door that is the correct size for the gap in wall.
  6. Door handle to be replaced with a handle made from one of the following materials:
    1. Polished Chrome
    2. Satin Chrome
    3. Polished Brass
    4. ivory crackle glaze florentine bronze

Of course these actions need to be carried out without undue compromise of the artist’s vision.

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