Behind the performance

Sculptural installation in the Oregon Maple in Library Square, 2017

During the 2017 exhibition Olivia Hassett created a tendon-like sculptural installation in one of the large Oregon Maples, which collapsed last June. These yellow lycra fabric pieces mirrored the lines of the cable bracing wire system that helped support some of the heavier branches of the tree. Imagery from SEM images taken by Clodagh Dooley of the internal cellular structure of the tree was printed by the artist onto the lycra fabric before it was stretched between the branches.

2017 solo performance Olivia Hassett, lycra sculptural tendon and Oregon Maple

For the 2019 exhibition Olivia decided to re engage with the ‘lycra tendon sculptures’ in another solo performance this time with the Oregon Maple embedded in the Parson’s building. Hassett used two of the tendon-like pieces during the solo performance work that formed part of the Trinity College Trees Exhibition launch event.

Hassett began the performance draped in the fabric works from 2017. The performance took place in the external first floor part of the Parson’s building extension.

An important part of the performance included the attaching and stretching of the fabric pieces from the podium of the building to and around the trunk of the Oregon Maple tree that is embedded and surrounded by the building itself. The connection between the building and the tree and the support provided by the stretched fabric was only possible during the performance and for a short period after.

The main focus of this performative work was Hassett’s continued engagement with water retaining gel as a material. As we know water and the lack of it was highlighted as being one of the key concerns for the trees of TCD. In actual fact David Hackett mentioned that adding water retaining gel to the soil of some of the trees showing signs of dehydration was one of the options open to the grounds staff to help keep the trees healthy. Having used this material before in previous performances Hassett was used to working with and was quite familiar with it’s transformative properties. When fully engorged with water the crystals weigh up to 100 times more than in their original crystalline form. The process of fast hydration and the slow return of the water to the soil is one that can occur numerous times over the life of the material, which is estimated to be about three years.

When Hassett began to workshop and think about what elements she wanted to engage with performatively during this exhibition water retaining gel was the obvious place to start. At the beginning of the performance last week she lifted in and placed two soft plastic buckets half filled with the gel beside the tree on the first floor. She then proceeded to slowly drop, squeeze and deposit the gel onto the grating that surrounds, protects and allows rain to percolate through to the roots of the Oregon Maple tree on the ground floor. Over a period of ten minutes or so Hassett continued to drop and walk on the mounds of water retaining gel forcing the material to seep and fall through the grating onto and into the installation of tube sculptures, which enabled the gel to funnel down to the roots below.

Over the course of the exhibition this gel will continue to hydrate and dehydrate in response to the weather weakening and altering the installation of paper tubes surrounding the Oregon Maple. This transformation of material is of particular interest to the artist and is also replicated in the her choice of paper as a material for the installation of tubes. She does not know how the paper sculptures will fare during the course of the four week exhibition, maybe they will delaminate, buckle and fail as a result of repeated rain showers or maybe they will survive in some shape or other. This element of working with and adapting to the unknown in nature is therefore mirrored in a small way through the choice of her materials. More images to follow from the installation…

In addition to the paper tube installation already in place on the ground floor, Hassett has also added one of the fabric tendon-like yellow lycra pieces from the 2017 exhibition. For this installation she has stretched it from the floor up through the grating on the first floor and ending up enveloping the tree trunk above. More images to follow…..

2016/17 Trinity College Trees Project

Trinity Trees Team 2 at PROBE at TCD

The 2016/17 Trinity College Trees Project, Making Visible the Invisible, celebrated scientific, conservation and artistic research into the physiology of eight trees situated on the main campus of Trinity College Dublin.

Over a period of eighteen months TCD staff  Professor David Taylor,  David Hackett,  Clodagh Dooley and Olivia Hassett meet regularly to collaborate on this ambitious project. Two sets of Scanning Electron microscopic sampling and imaging were undertaken to reflect the changing seasons and conditions during the project.

In response to the collaborative research and microscopic imagery collected the artist created a series of site specific innovative art works, which were installed in the eight trees throughout the campus. A series of performances by Hassett with the Oregon Maple in the main square formed part of PROBE European Researchers night event September 29th 2017 launching the exhibition to much acclaim.

The Trinity College Trees exhibition was supported by a series of guided walks while also offering a self guided walk and supporting audio piece detailing information on each tree and the inspiration behind the installed artworks.

This blog outlines the project background information, research and inspiration behind these works.

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Reintroducing Olivia Hassett

NO FEE 11 PROBE at TCD

Olivia Hassett’s art practice is interdisciplinary and frequently collaborative, realised through site specific sculptural installations and live performances. These installations and live works draw directly from Hassett’s preoccupation with metaphorical and phenomenological notions of skin as a porous, liminal boundary between public and private aspects of the human body.

Central to Hassett’s ongoing exploration of the visceral body and it’s propensity to be simultaneously grotesque and sublime is her interest in an expanded notion of skin, beyond that of abjection and binaries; inside / outside, public / private, male / female, hard / soft, but as a threshold that is continuously shifting and morphing. Hassett’s practice focuses on developing work that is openly provisional and allows movement back and forth along these edges exploring the unknown and creating a space for transformation.

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Olivia Hassett completed a Masters of Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2012. Hassett is the inaugural artist in residence in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Department of Trinity College Dublin. In 2015 Olivia Hassett and Professor David Taylor hosted Endo/ Exo, an exhibition of their collaborative project in Trinity College Dublin. Other one person shows include; In | Between, deAppendix, Dublin, 2014 (part of a three month residency), Somatic reassemblage, Newbridge Arts Centre, January 2014 and Anamorph, Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford, June 2013. Recent solo performances include Screened I, MART, Dublin, 2015 and Screened II, PAB Bergen, Norway, 2015. Olivia Hassett was awarded an artists bursary from the South Dublin County Council in 2014.

Performance by Olivia Hassett – part of TCD European Researchers Night 2017

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Image: Between You and Me, solo performance by Olivia Hassett, part of ON THE SPOT. in RUA RED, 2014.

As part of the official opening of the Trinity College Trees project Olivia Hassett will perform in response to the Oregon Maple in the main square. This performance will be included in the events celebrating European Researchers Night (Probe) in Trinity College Dublin on September 29th 2017.  Exact times to be confirmed. 

If you would like to keep up to date with this event and many more happening as part of European Researchers Night check out the official Probe event facebook page

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