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Malcolm McClay - Concrete Republic

Opening on October 6th 2011 - 7:00 pm

Returning to my native Donegal this summer I was struck by the number of half built houses (also referred to as ghost estates) littering its landscape, the detritus of the economic boom. Though I currently live in New Orleans I grew up in Donegal. Moving in and out of empty houses while photographing these ghost estates felt eerily familiar to me, previously I had documented Post Katrina neighborhoods in New Orleans. Yet these were not homes filled with a lifetime of belongings in compressed layers on the floor. These were cold concrete structures, colorless, characterless and above all lifeless; they seemed more like monuments or indeed large tombs burying the landscape below them. In the same way that Hurricane Katrina left whole blocks of homes destroyed and unoccupied with one or two homes renovated and lived in, the ghost estates have families living in some of the houses while others remain at various stages of completion.

I have created a series of works in response to these ghost estates. I began by visiting various estates scattered throughout Donegal, documenting them through photographs, then recreating them through drawings. These drawings were then cut out and mounted unto a collaged landscape echoing way the actual houses awkwardly occupy their often bucolic landscape.

Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, and raised in Donegal, Ireland, Malcolm studied at the University of Ulster, Belfast, where he received his BA honors degree in Three-Dimensional Design. He earned his MA in sculpture from New Mexico State University and his MFA in sculpture and performance from The Ohio State University. There he co-founded Crisus, a performance company. For the next ten years, Crisus wrote, produced, and toured large-scale multimedia performances throughout the US and abroad. Malcolm moved with Crisus from Ohio to New Orleans, then to Chicago, and finally to San Francisco.

In 1999, Malcolm moved away from performance to concentrate on interactive installation and kinetic sculpture. He moved from San Francisco to Louisiana in 2002 and joined the faculty of Louisiana State University’s School of Art in the fall of 2003. As an Irish artist living in the US Malcolm exhibits in both countries regularly. He is a founding member of the Good Children Gallery in New Orleans where he regularly curates and exhibits.  (McClay 2011)