Resurrection: the return of the Gothic home in contemporary Irish art (1990-2015)
Fahey, Majella Tracy
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This thesis investigates the resurrection of the Gothic home as a powerful symbol in contemporary Irish fine art practice from 1990 to 2015, figuring large in the work of important Irish artists Aideen Barry, Alice Maher, Dorothy Cross, Patrick Jolley, Anthony Haughey and Michael Fortune. This current re-emergence of the Gothic home has been provoked and stimulated by contemporary crises that have in turn acted to aggravate much older, underlying Irish anxieties in relation to home. It reveals these Gothic homes as revenant spaces, echoes of dark domestic images and situations that recur throughout Irish history and memory, from Big Houses, to Famine cottages, to Magdalen Laundries, to ghost estates. The works discussed here are rooted in both modern anxieties and a traumatised past; contemporary art acts as a trigger that unleashes buried traumas of home within the Irish psyche; layered associations of home with danger, warfare, colonialism, and eviction. The Gothic homes of contemporary Irish art embody the expression of the Heimlich within the Unheimlich; they are concerned with concealed repression, with uncanny revelation and return. This domestic art of these Unheimlich homes is identified as Gothic in terms of its aesthetic, its expression, and its concerns. These problematic homes position dark domesticity within the dissident mode of the Gothic, offering a counter-narrative to normative visions of home and dominant narratives of history and politics. This thesis valorises these multifarious contemporary representations of dark domesticity, seeing them as a powerful addition to the canon of creative practice on Irish domestic Gothic. In doing so, it enlarges the definition of Irish Gothic in order to embrace and value the vivid contribution of fine art practice to the Gothic as a genre.
KeywordsContemporary Irish art