Demise en Scène brings together work by Michael Boran and Ethna O’Regan that delve into the vernacular and commercial visual sphere surrounding the holiday experience.
Many travellers are compelled by the futile quest of capturing essences of natural beauty that live up to their holiday experience. Boran and O’Regan are looking the other way, unravelling the mechanics operating in perceptions of amusement and pleasure. The work invites us to contemplate upon the artifice and commodification of historic/touristic sites and the often-hollow promise of good times that seem implicit with the process of tourism.
Boran’s images are studies in transience, where the specifics of the visitors, swarming in procession, seem irrelevant. In Visitors to the Summit the tourist are so transient that their opacity wanes. It is what links these travellers – the hope of relaxation and cultural consumption – that the artists linger on.
O’Regan’s work has a resonance with Massimo Vitali’s photographs of densely populated leisure sites, but where Vitali’s high detail and depth-of-field casts everyone as extras, more than often O’Regan’s have emphasising hooks, standing out from the broad visual components – more comfortably recognisable to and desirable by the viewer from their amassed cultural capital. O’Regan’s art contains these Barthian ‘puncta’ as playful ambiguities – almost as if staged.
In both artists’ images, it is as if the walls to a cinematic sound-stage have fallen away, exposing the lie of the leisure-drome. In the tourist realm these imaginary walls, ceilings and floors are really just the frame of the camera lens. Here, the skill of the artist has zoomed out or panned beyond the range of brochure images, in which the tourist begins their holiday.