Taking a discussion on an on-line forum about the aesthetics of UEA as a point of departure, the artist led a choreographed procession through the predominantly Brutalist architecture of the campus. At certain moments, the artist paused and asked a question relating to its design, as if to invoke the presence of the architect. The buildings responded in-kind: a fragment of music played by the artist through a megaphone echoed off their façades, returning a soundscape determined by the density and composition of the surrounding architecture. The performance culminated with the casting of a sculptural form by the side of The Broad, the large lake bordering the campus.
The term Brutalism has its roots in the phrase beton brut, French for raw concrete. Its British incarnation is a particular instance of the meeting of the intellectual and the practical. Architectural theories developed by the likes of Alison and Peter Smithson and Reyner Banham came face to face with the economic reality of post-war reconstruction and the brave new world ideology of 1960s Britain. Designed by Denys Lasdun in 1963, the UEA campus embodies that era’s utopian ideals, while giving physical form to the idea that a university education is not just for the privileged. Like many buildings of this time, UEA was built from concrete and, though not always perceived positively, this material came to define the age.
Through the careful selection of a sequence of spaces on the campus, McNulty draws attention to its spatial narrative. Some feeling of living in today moves beyond a simple visual appraisal of Lasdun’s design, seeking to enter the audience into an altered relationship with certain material and spatial qualities of this “tightly organised” educational complex.
Berlin-based Dennis McNulty (b. 1970, Ireland) is an artist whose work is generated through an investigation of embodied knowledge in relation to intentionally or formally acquired knowledge. Beginning with detailed research of various kinds, and informed by his studies in psychoacoustics, the works often take hybrid forms, drawing on aspects of cinema, sculpture, sound and performance.
Recent solo projects include The Face of Something New, Scriptings, Berlin (2013); PRECAST, London (2012); The Eyes of Ayn Rand, Performa 11, New York (2011); and Another Construction, Irish Museum of Modern Art (2011). In 2004 he represented Ireland at the São Paulo Bienal.
Dennis McNulty is represented by Green On Red, Dublin.
Some feeling of living in today was commissioned as part of JERUSALEM.
Taking the form of collective journeys, JERUSALEM is an ongoing project that commissions artists to make work informed by, housed within or seeking alliance with selected architectural sites across England. The first chapter of JERUSALEM took place from 17 - 19th August, 2012. Participating artists were: Dennis McNulty, Francesco Pedraglio and Cara Tolmie.