Twilight Head Cult

Dwellings, sweathouses or astronomical observatories? The structures dotted throughout Kevin Mooney’s Stranger Island (2016) and other landscapes depict playful perspectives on how our ancestors lived and saw the world. Without concrete evidence, explanations of our history are constructions rather than reconstructions due to the rupture in handed-down knowledge in the oral tradition. Yet the fragments of ruins, artefacts and legends offer a rich resource for interpretations of how Irish society developed or could have developed.

Spearheaded by Chief (2014), Mooney’s recent research into the “cult of the head” has evolved into an archive of sorts. In early Celtic culture, the head was perceived as a site of power or the seat of the spirit, with suggestions that warriors ritually decapitated the vanquished. The collection of paintings in Twilight Head Cult assemble distorted and mutated heads peering at us through puffs of smoke and floating eyeballs barely concealed by clouds and bushy beards.

Picking through embellished accounts and unreliable speculations on pagan parties and tribal conflicts, on seers and magic mushrooms, Mooney reimagines an Irish art history through Storyteller (2016) as a cultural entanglement. The story is interwoven with references to emigration, folklore and the supernatural. The exhibition is an imagined portrait of “Irishness” – on the one hand specific to national identity and on the other how Irish culture might have interacted with other cultures on its migrational journeys.

Admission is free and all are welcome.


Kevin Mooney 18 November 2016 - 22 January 2017 Related events: Eddie Lenihan (19 November); Céilí Allstars (2 December); Workspace Social (19 January). We will close for the holidays from 17 December - 14 January. Image: Stranger Island (2016), oil on canvas, 127 x 150 cm, courtesy of the artist.  
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