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Catherine Barragry makes sculpture, performance and immersive events that consider survival.


"In the performances I often become some kind of animal or the personification of a mode of survival. Sometimes these personas or entities are breathing through tubes as if they come from another planet; needing apparatus to help then to survive in Earth conditions. The sculptural works can be considered in the same way; they are rudimentary apparatus for survival or sites of new knowledge made by some outsider or sentient being. The events meanwhile attempt to use this otherness and primal energy to generate social and political provocations. The shifting presence of this entity in the work can be understood as an intuitive, embodied archeology of thought in sentient lifeforms.


I make sculpture, performance and immersive events. These emit the low hum of

science fiction and alternate histories. The work is fragile, contingent and

vulnerable. This gives a sense that the work has been made by an outsider as they

encounter and respond to their environment. I use this outsider modality to explore

human and non-human agency in open systems. I become evolution, or the first

animal to breathe air. I imagine the first social gesture; territorial act; or resource

manipulation. I inhabit the world as a natural philosopher; an anachronistic nomad; a proto-engineer; a trickster. At its core the work is about survival.


I'm interested in how human and non-human agencies recognise, map, harvest, store, safeguard, manipulate and move resources. I will focus on moments in history and prehistory where significant shifts in humanity's relationship to resources and resourcefulness occurred. I will consider the processes and cycles that act on and are acted upon as humans and non-humans engage with their environment. I will also look to open cultural systems as containers of iterative knowledge relating to resourcefulness.


For the duration of the residency I will make a series of sculptures that focus on human and non-human agency toward resources and resourcefulness. I will begin with the movement and storage of water; containers, transportation systems, aqueduct structures, irrigation channels, rope pumps, and water wheels; as well as surfaces that retain water in similar patterns to plant life; bladders, honeycomb surfaces, wells."


Catherine Barragry studied sculpture at NCAD and went on to complete a Masters in events and performance-based work in 2010. She was a resident of the Fire Station Artist Studios, Dublin from 2011 to 2014. Barragry has received support for her art practice from Dublin City Council, Fingal Arts Office and The Arts Council of Ireland. She describes making art as a gesture of poetic politics.



Artist In Residence at UCD College of Social Sciences and Law

Image Details


1. when that which is above is like that which is below, 2015 (close-up) bone, thread, cast bronze, plastic container,

natural marine rope, wood, paraffin wax and water, 40cm heigh stem, variable installation dimensions

image by Joseph Carr

Exhibited as part of ‘Dead Zoo’, a three-person show curated by Hilary Murray, at Art Box, Dublin. Water travels in small beads along a thread from the inverted container, traveling through the hollow in the bone and down into a waxed reservoir on the floor of the gallery space. The work explores magical thinking, outsider science and modalities of thought that were present in medieval natural philosophy.


2. when that which is above is like that which is below, 2015 (installation shot) bone, thread, cast bronze, plastic container,

natural marine rope, wood, paraffin wax and water 40cm heigh stem, variable installation dimensions

image by Joseph Carr


3. contagion event 1924, 2015 close-up, family photographs, frame

image by Joseph Carr

A ladder allows the audience to view framed photographs hung high on the wall of the gallery. In the images a young girl's companion

has, it seems, changed into a donkey. The ladder creates a precarious intimacy between the figures in the photographs and the viewer. Meanwhile the positioning of the images out of reach protects the audience from the contagious magic that is seemingly being enacted in the photographs.


4.when that which is above is like that which is below, 2015 (close-up)

image by Joseph Carr


5. tube breather, 2012 performance, plastic tubing, skateboard, LED light

image by Joseph Carr

Performed at The Loft, Dublin as part of the Dublin Live Art Festival programme curated by Ciara Mc Keon. A roomful of people lay on the floor in near darkness as I moved around them on a lit skateboard breathing through a tube onto their exposed skin. Exploring ideas of low-fi science fiction and consciousness, tube breather performs an individual creature/other/alien/entity that has identified other sentient lifeforms. Here the creature makes a tentative social gesture where breath is used as a kind of 'first contact'.


6. Shapeshifter, 2010 durational performance, razor shells, driftwood, football, bandages, paper bag

image by Aoife Giles

Performance at 'No Soul for Sale', Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London, with Thisisnotashop. Performance was durational for the course of the exhibition. This liminal creature breathed into a paper bag ‘muzzle' and walked on all fours using the driftwood as crutches. The creature was imagined as an anachronistic entity that had survived modernity by living in wasteland.


7. a politics of presence, 2010

image by Joseph Carr

Performed as part of “Right Here Right Now” group show, Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin. Carved onto an upright pallet were the words “this is a politics of presence, please sit with me, silently aware of the knowledge between us, cover your face.”


8. electrickily, 2015 custom built shelf, performative talk, 30 minutes approximately

image by Jennie Taylor

Performed as part of Overstock series of performative lectures, curated by Jennie Taylor at MART gallery, Dublin. For electrickily I perched at a height on the wall of the gallery, above the heads of the audience. I spoke of materiality, connotations, associations, magic, art and science.