(selected by Michelle Cotton)
Josephine Flynn arrived at her graduation ceremony in cap and gown with both hands heavily bandaged. When her name was called from the list she approached the platform and stretched out a hand to receive the degree certificate and customary handshake. On noticing her bandaged hands the gentleman making the presentation stooped and whispered in her ear 'I'll just touch it, if you don't mind?'.
This gesture, from Flynn who's hands were not injured but bound to interrupt the rehearsed formality of the ceremony, is typical of a humour that cuts across assumed hierarchies and social norms to expose them as unnecessary constructs that are somehow passed over and assimilated without question.
More recent video work is a tightly edited cut 'n' paste gutter media bonanza. 'Suff 3' combines narrative form borrowed from straight-to-video Danielle Steele, a dedication to bodily functions in Microsoft Paintbox and soundtracks that appear to skip through the early volumes of Now thats What I Call Music.
Flynn's work has the effect of levelling everything thrown into its vast landfill whilst avoiding predictable right-on critiques. In 'Stuff 3' the graphic design on an Ibuprofen box (an ally to over-indulgence or PMT) morphs into a zit, which slowly zooms out to be a zit on George W Bush and then self-consciously acknowledges its own wit. Which is perhaps the most extraordinary quality of Flynn's work; whether shes making a montage that flits from fast food to global politics or an awkward intervention in the social arena the success derives from an ability to convey a character that can make you feel at ease in the most unnatural sources of humour.
Michelle Cotton 2005
Josephine Flynn (b. 1975) is a Leeds-based artist studying the MA Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University. Over the past two years she has participated in notable groups shows such as Manifesta 2, Casino Luxembourg, 1998, Now Then, Now Then (International 3, Manchester 2004) and was selected for New Contemporaries 2005, touring to the Barbican, London from 16 November to 8 January.
I consider my work to have evolved from a utopian and romantic tradition. I want to analyse the contention between reality and perfection, the real and the imaginary and maybe idealistically between the individual and society. I want to examine what is acceptable and not acceptable within the framework of our culture. To understand how this structure works and how meaning is gained and constructed in relation to our beliefs, value and knowledge in our society.
I want to make art that engages the viewer, to make them responsible. I want them to feel in a state of uncertainty.
The images, text and animations range from socio-political, subjective, commercial, taken from films to using familiar symbols and the banal. They are appropriated from different sources and are juxtaposed together to imply meaning whether arbitrary or not. Each image that has gone before seems to be wiped away with the next rapid image in a nihilistic fashion. (Josephine Flynn 2005).
Flynn is currently showing in Spectator T, a city-wide contemporary art event curated by Gavin Wade, sited across galleries, project spaces, non-gallery venues and public sites in Sheffield, until 27 November 2005.