NOV. 12, 2008 – MARCH 1, 2009

Boston, MA – The 12th exhibition in the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Momentum series features Irish artist Gerard Byrne—“superstar potential” (Washington Post)—in his first solo museum exhibition in the U.S.  Momentum examines new developments in contemporary art, inviting emerging artists from the U.S. and around the world to show their work at the ICA. Fascinated by theater and storytelling, Byrne uses real life sources—from popular magazines like Playboy and National Geographic to plays by Beckett and Brecht—to explore the narratives society creates for itself. For Momentum 12, Byrne presents Case Study: Loch Ness (Some possibilities and problems), a new project focusing on the legend of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster.  Combining photography, film, and text, the installation blurs the lines between past and present, fiction and documentary. Momentum 12: Gerard Byrne is on view at the ICA from Nov. 12, 2008 – March 1, 2009.  

“With wit and insight, Gerard Byrne’s multimedia work invites us to consider how images inform our understanding of myth and reality,” says ICA Director Jill Medvedow. “Byrne is one of the most significant artists working in Ireland today and we are thrilled to be presenting his first solo museum show in Boston and the U.S.”

“Bryne recognizes how the formal properties of film and photography—such as framing and light—can be as expressive of time and place as their subjects,” says Nicholas Baume, Chief Curator at the ICA.  “In this way, he plays with our sense of period and context, fashioning his work so that we can never be exactly sure of what we are seeing.”

While there is no physical evidence to prove the existence of the Loch Ness monster, the myth has been widely propagated since the mid-1930s, when it was first taken up by the London press in a successful ploy to sell newspapers. Byrne has been taking photographs and shooting film around Loch Ness for a number of years, at the same time collecting archival material, including reports of sightings. In Case Study: Loch Ness (Some possibilities and problems), he combines these elements in a playful, and sometimes ironic, installation exploring the proliferation of the Loch Ness legend.

As if creating a theatrical set, Byrne uses the Loch Ness photographs—some in color but most in black and white—to stage the scene. Broad, detached shots of the lake give an overall sense of the location while images zoomed in more closely suggest ambiguous forms. Byrne juxtaposes the photographs with suggestive phrases pulled from “eyewitness” accounts and re-combined as short, enigmatic poems.  The varied voices animated in Byrne’s poetic captions remind us of the collective nature of myth; its lifeblood being its ability to be told and retold over time from shifting perspectives.

Case Study also includes a grainy, silent, 16-millimeter, black-and-white film shot with a vintage Bolex wind-up movie camera. The implied narrative is that of a search. The camera closes in on scenes around the lake, as well as animals—including an obviously fake monster—and people whose conversations are unintelligible on film.

As Byrne plumbs our curious need for a realm beyond rationality, he also draws direct parallels between the persistence of the Loch Ness legend and the rise of commercial mass media.  Inviting us to examine the “evidence” presented in his own installation, Byrne poses the paradoxical question: is it possible to capture an image of something that does not exist?

Gerard Byrne was born in 1969 in Dublin, where he lives and works. A recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship (1994) and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Arts (2006), Byrne has been featured in significant group exhibitions including Manifesta 4, Frankfurt, Germany (2002); The American Effect, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); 3rd Tate Triennial, Tate Britain, London (2006); and Revolutions – Forms that Turn, Biennale of Sydney (2008). Byrne represented Ireland in the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007). Solo exhibitions have been presented by Green on Red Gallery, Dublin (1999, 2002, 2004); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (2003); Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf Germany (2007); Lisson Gallery, London (2007); Charles H. Scott Gallery / Emily Carr Institute, Vancouver (2007); and Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark (2008).

The ICA Momentum series is sponsored by AKRIS.

Press Preview
A media preview of Momentum 12: Gerard Byrne will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008, at 9:30 a.m. The preview will also introduce The 2008 Foster Prize Exhibition and a new installation of the Fineberg Art Wall by Ugo Rondinone. RSVP to Colette Randall at 617-478-3181 or

About the ICA
An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, The Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for seventy years. Like its iconic building on Boston’s waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The Institute of Contemporary Art, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am – 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am – 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, and free for members and children 17 and under. Free admission on Target Free Thursday Nights, 5-9 pm. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at 

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