Keith Kavanagh

Dublin Institute of Technology

By Hilary Murray

The glorious and prodigious acknowledgement of one’s freedom whilst at art school is a wonderful thing. Here one is free to create whatever one wants without judgment or call for saleability or whatever else market driven forces require of an art-grad today. At art school one can at least for that short period of time - create. What I cannot understand is being safe, and if it is the case that academia is imposing these restrictions (which I doubt, given the weight of teaching talent we currently have in art colleges), then one should assume the responsibility of wilfully ignoring them.

Luckily of the graduates at this year’s DIT exhibition most demonstrated a sham regard for trends of the day and pushed the limits of what is art – and taste, at every corner. One artist fits this bill more than the rest and that is the brilliant Keith Kavanagh, whose bed-sit installation ranged from Beckett to Sartre to Sesame Street. I have to say it remained mostly in the range of Sesame Street and was undoubtedly a hit with the audience at the DIT graduate exhibition opening.  It’s hard to know whether a work is just silly or genius, but I thought this worked brilliantly – especially in the decaying edifice of Portland Row.  Its topicality is also not lost on many the arts student. Philosophical foibles and conversations regarding the weird prevalence of bedsits in 20th Century philosophical prose made me love this work. I actually think he employed real people to hide in the sofa, bed and wardrobe, primed to open doors and lift cushions, which demonstrates not just his dedication to the cause of art, but his friends’. Notions such as squalor, neglect, art, literature and philosophy are all sent up in this work and it’s the one piece that remains with me still.