Byrne’s work blurs the lines between past and present, fiction and documentary

Gerard Byrne’s multimedia practice invites us to consider contemporary culture through the filter of the recent past. His work references a wide range of sources—from popular magazines like Playboy and National Geographic   to playwrights like Samuel Beckett—to focus our attention on how society represents the present to itself at a given moment in history.

For Momentum 12, the Irish artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S., Byrne presents Case Study: Loch Ness (Some possibilities and problems), a new project that explores the legend of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster through photography, film, and text. While there is no physical evidence to prove the existence of the monster, the myth has been widely propagated since the mid-1930s, when it was first taken up by Fleet Street in a successful ploy to sell newspapers.

Byrne’s project combines black and white photographs of Loch Ness, excerpts from reports of “eyewitness” accounts that are often contradictory, and a film projection of grainy footage shot on the lake’s banks. The artist draws direct parallels between the legend’s currency and the rise of commercial mass media, providing a fresh take on one of the world’s most enduring modern myths.