Gerard Byrne’s 1984 and Beyond (2005–07) is a multi-media installation that includes a film produced at the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands. The project takes as its starting point an eponymous article published in 1963 in Playboy magazine, which featured a discussion between twelve science fiction writers. Dutch actors dressed in 1960s attire dramatize the original script, which is staged amidst the Barbara Hepworth sculptures in Gerrit Rietveld’s Sonsbeek Pavilion.
The work 1984 and Beyond was commissioned by If I Can’t Dance, an inspired curatorial initiative addressing ideas of performativity in art based in the Netherlands, and the production of the work was heavily tied to this location. Rather than being a constriction, this tie turned out to be a highly fertile one, opening my research to the substantial legacies of mid-twentieth-century modernist architecture scattered amongst the polders. One of the principal locations for the filming was the Sonsbeek Pavilion by Gerrit Rietveld(1888–1964) at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo. The pavilion’s chronology synchronized with the period I was referencing in my project. First built in 1955 for the Third International Sculpture Exhibition in Arnhem’s Sonsbeek Park, the pavilion was subsequently reconstructed around 1965 by a group of Dutch architects as a memorial to Rietveld in the Sculpture Garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum. I was drawn to the open, porous character of the architecture, which seemed incomplete, as if a ruin. The various bronzes by Barbara Hepworth, which seem to have always been part of the pavilion, share this trait of fragmentary, ancient form, with edges rounded as if from wear. On the evidence of the ensemble, I had the sense that far from being “of their time”, mid-twentieth-century modernists like Hepworth and Rietveld seemed more concerned with contriving a “timelessness” via their work. There was a clear appeal to the primeval in play, which, unlikely as it may seem, resonated strongly with the primary document I was referencing in my project: a round-table discussion on the world of the future, featured in the July/August 1963 issues of Playboy magazine.
About the author
Gerard Byrne has shown work at international biennials including Documenta 13, 54th Venice Biennale, and in Sydney, Gwangju, Lyon, and Istanbul amongst others. Recent solo exhibitions include the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2015), FRAC Pays de la Loire (2014), Whitechapel Gallery (2013), IMMA, Dublin (2012), and Renaissance Society, Chicago (2011). In 2007 he represented Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale. In 2006 he was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn award. He is represented by the Lisson Gallery in London, Kerlin Gallery in Dublin, and Nordenhake Gallery, Stockholm. He has been a professor at the Royal Danish Academy for Fine Art since 2007.
- Gerard Byrne
- 18 July 2016
- Review status
- Peer Reviewed (Editorial Group)
- CC BY-NC International 4.0
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- Cite as
- Gerard Byrne, "1984 and Beyond (2005–07)", British Art Studies, Issue 3, https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-03/gbyrne