presencing

presencing is an exhibition of work by Helen Kirwan that came from the residency the artist undertook at the Cyprus Academy of Arts in Limassol between January and June 2021. The exhibition was revealed at the Noise Gallery and comprises of work created by the artist during what she calls her ‘Covid-exercise’ walks in Cyprus. The exhibition comprised approximately 1,500 photographs, postcard size, installed as multiples in linear grids and strips.

Kirwan’s work came about in the context of her coming to Cyprus at the invitation of the Cyprus Academy of Art, Limassol to take up a three-month artists residency. However, when she arrived on 2 January 2021, due to the global pandemic, she was sent into quarantine at an hotel in Ayia Napa after which she moved to Nicosia for a month, to stay with a friend. As strict ‘lockdown’ rules were in place, Kirwan was only allowed outside for exercise and even when she eventually got to Limassol to start the residency in February, various lockdown measures still applied and remained in place until May. During her long Covid-exercise walks she took photographs with an iPhone of incidents and scenes which she encountered along the way. Perhaps this was her way of making sense of Nicosia and subsequently Limassol, feeling her way, rather as a snail does, along the ground. As a prelude to coming to Cyprus, she had been reading Heidegger’s ‘Early Greek Thinking’ and contemplating his re-thinking of the pre-Socratics whom he considered as representatives of thinking before it was overtaken by metaphysics. Heidegger argues that modern philosophy had become corrupted by the narrowness of the metaphysical and purely rational way of thinking. His analysis of the Anaximander, Parmenides and Heraclitus fragments prompted him to think Being as presencing (Anwesen) in the sense of coming into presence, lingering and returning to absence. This idea of Being as a process of transformation and a particular way of being Heidegger refers to as Gelassenheit: Being as releasement ‘toward the unsaid’. Kirwan thinks of her 1,500 little iPhone photographs as expressions of Being in this Heideggerian sense- of her presencing during her ‘Covid-exercise’ walks and within such presencing there is a potential for releasement as Heidegger puts it, ‘toward the unsaid’.

Click here for the poster.