(selected by Judith King)
I am not going to America, an audio guide for a chair lift, 2002
Passing time, rather than dramatic spectacle, is the subject of Paul Rooney's recent videos, consisting of long duration fixed camera shots of empty spaces, resembling real-time photographs. Voice-over sound tracks are key elements, referencing narrative forms such as songs, audio guides, sermons and other modes of storytelling, spoken from the position of a variety of roles or personas, such as a nightclub cloakroom attendant, a tourist guide or a fanzine writer. The works provide a contemplative space for the viewer to engage with the spoken or sung texts on the soundtracks.
'In writing the texts, I often work with people to engage with the particular roles they occupy in various ways, highlighting everyday practices, and peripheral positions, as potential sites for creativity and resistance to wider social structures. Recent works have involved collaborating with a TV audience warm up man, residents of a tower block, and a speech and language therapy patient. The work extends to engage with how we occupy or engage with specific physical places, in a more poetic or imaginative sense. Pop music, along with many forms of culture, often relies for its power on wider imaginative worlds that are associated with the artists or context, worlds which extend much further than the initial pop song or comedy routine, often blurring the line between truth and fiction.'
Rooney's work frequently sits at the intersection of art and popular culture, especially music. From 1998-2000 his individual practice focused on the music of his band 'Rooney' CDs and performances, and a Radio 1 Peel Session was broadcast in October 1999. The band Rooney successfully negotiated the potentially problematic terrain between art and pop and attained significant recognition in both fields.
Pass the Time of Day
The exhibition Pass the Time of Day, (2004/5) curated by Rooney, explored the theme of the estrangement of the everyday through the use of music. Each selected work set out to induce an active involvement with the emotional effects of music, mirroring our fluid and subjective experience of the everyday. As the curator, Rooney drew on interests inherent within his own practice: the works referenced poignant musical art moments which use recent British and North American post-punk music (or pre-punk music with the same demeanour), and similarly, refer primarily to the everyday life of the Western, urban working class late 20th-century experience. (1)
'Music shifts perception radically, and can elicit deeply subjective and fluctuating relationships with the visual. It can make something communicable of day to day existence, which becomes something other than the commonplace. In some cases it can alter our engagement with the present enough to disrupt the moment, potentially creating a space for thought, or for historical memory.' (Rooney 2005)
Rooney's contribution to Pass the Time of Day was a video piece reflecting on the reveries of five bored shop assistants. Robert Clark writes, 'Paul Rooney, through his plaintive video installations and through the inimitable music CDs released under the band name Rooney, has gained a well-deserved renown as a highly individual artist and more than a bit of a character. Rooney appreciates that cliches are the common vocabulary of our collective emotional lives and that cliches are nowhere more skilfully re-enlivened than in pop music. His work can make convincing and affecting poetry out of a trip to the corner shop'. (Robert Clark, The Guardian Guide, 2004)
> Good Morning Call, audio clip (MP3 2.7MB)
> Throw Away, audio clip (MP3 3.5MB)
Paul Rooney (b. 1967, Liverpool) trained at Edinburgh College of Art. He was a founder member of artist group Common Culture, who exhibited at EAST International in 1999. He has held residencies at The British School at Rome, Dundee Contemporary Arts/University of Dundee VRC, Projecto Batiscafo, Cuba, and was the Tate Liverpool MOMART Fellow for 2002-2003 and the ACE Oxford-Melbourne Artists Fellow for 2004.
Solo projects include Know Your Place, (firstsite, Colchester, 2004), There Are Two Paths, (off-site performance project, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and Meadow Gallery, Shropshire, 2003) and Psalm, a performance at Tate Liverpool, 2003.
In 2003 he was awarded the first Comme ca art Art Prize North, and will be showing in British Art Show 6 at BALTIC, Gateshead in September 2005, and touring the UK in 2006.
(1) Pass the Time of Day was launched at Gasworks Gallery, London, and toured to the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham and Castlefield Gallery, Manchester. Selected artists were Arab Strap, Marko Ciciliani, Phil Collins, Fugazi and Jem Cohen, Rodney Graham, Mark Leckey, Rosalind Nashashibi, Susan Philipsz, Pipilotti Rist, Paul Rooney, Stephen Sutcliffe, Thomson & Craighead.
Let Me Take You There
For Artranspennine03, curated by Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Rooney created an audio guide for a field in Calderdale. His text, 'Let Me Take You There' (2003), weaves a densely textured narrative... read on
I Am Not Going to America
(Female voice)I Am Not Going To America, narrated by Alain Chamois, fanzine writer. (Male voice)This is an audio guide intended for any chair lift. You are now setting off on the first leg of the... read on