Kevin Kavanagh Supports Mannix Flynn's Decision to Cancel Padded Cell and Other Stories
I support the decision of Mannix Flynn to cancel his exhibition, Padded Cell and other stories, which was to open at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, on Friday 10th of July.
Mannix Flynn is an important Irish Artist whose work is both challenging and relevant to the times we live in. His installation Safe House, Safe Place at Liberty Hall, Dublin in 2005 was arguably the most impressive exhibition that I have ever seen that deals in a sensitive and intelligent way the horror of Child Abuse. Mannix Flynn is an elected member of Aosdana and also a founder member of Far Cry Productions. He most recently served on the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art for five years.
As a native of Portlaoise and given my previous experience of curating a group show as part of the Laois Arts Festival in 2001 and presenting three solo exhibitions by represented artists Mick O Dea (2005), Geraldine O’Neill (2006) and most recently Ulrich Vogl (2009), I was invited by the Director of Dunamaise Arts Centre, Louise Donlon, to advise on the on the programme for Visual Arts in 2009, the Arts Centre 10th Anniversary Year, along with Gemma Tipton and in conjunction with the Director, to devise the programme for 2009. One of my curatorial decision was to invite Mannix Flynn, having worked with him in the past, Not to be read in open court (2004) to show and it was received enthusiastically by all involved. This was agreed to by my co-curators.
I consider the Director’s decision to remove work from the foyer of the Arts Centre to the exhibition area upstairs unreasonable and unnecessary, especially as she was party to all correspondence at all times. At no point was it made clear that the foyer was not to be used or that there were content parameters. If such reservations were tabled in the first instance or within a reasonable timeframe, the layout of the exhibition and indeed the artist could have thought about the implications. The work in question is part of a body of work Statemeant (2005) which deals with child abuse and specifically testaments of victims of such abuse that is now in the public domain. To table this condition two days before the exhibition opening and with the considerable preparation and expense incurred by the artist in the First Floor specific installation makes the exhibition unworkable. The Artist, Mannix Flynn had made considerable financial and conceptual preparations for the show and such a move interferes with the installation Padded Cell which was designed and built for upstairs.
Mannix Flynn is also an Artist of repute so that parents will be very aware in advance of the content of his work, and are in a position to decide for those who are too young to make their own decisions, therefore such removal of the works was unnecessary.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my disappointment having invited the artist in good faith and with due respect for best practice in the procedures and protocols around exhibition display, that the exhibition has been rendered unworkable by the decision of Dunamaise Arts Centre.