Jim Ricks’ installation for the Sleepwalkers series, Bubblewrap Game: Hugh Lane, develops a narrative of comparisons in a humorous and diverse display of objects – including paintings from The Hugh Lane’s collection, borrowed artworks and flea-market kitsch – all exhibited on an equal level as an open fragment rather than closed system.
There is no judgment or standard of taste made on the respective cultural, aesthetic, historical or market worth of each object, yet each is linked to the next on a single shelf in a circumnavigation of the curved walls in Gallery 8. Ricks brings the belief in changeable standards and their contradictions to life in an installation of experiment, doubt and arbitrary perception. In Bubble wrap Game: Hugh Lane, Jim Ricks emphasises a shift from biography and medium to method and situation, and contemplates his ongoing interest in ideas about the symbolic and monetary value of property.
This combination of diverse objects set side by side to create new meanings can be seen as a form of collage. The artist has called this method ‘Synchromaterialism’. The trail of objects can be followed in either direction around the curved room with no fixed starting point. This creates a loop that Ricks, citing Karl Marx, sees as historical narrative repeating “first as tragedy and then as farce”. Viewers are invited to create their own narratives and connections between the objects on display.
Jim Ricks is interested in pushing acceptable notions of a hybrid art/curatorial practice while dissolving normally accepted hierarchies. Working in a collage format, the artist utilises appropriation (the use of pre-existing objects or images which challenges ownership and authorship) and sees curation as a logical extension of that. For Bubblewrap Game Ricks has included works from The Hugh Lane collections by artists such as Gerard Dillon and Robert Ballagh as well as works on loan from artists including Raphael Zarka and James Hanley. The artist’s use of appropriation – taking existing objects or artworks to make new work – can also be interpreted as piracy, repurposing or misuse.
Jim Ricks studied at the National University of Ireland, Galway/Burren College of Art and the California College of the Arts. Originally from California, he has lived in Ireland for 8 years. Ricks was selected for Futures 12 at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2012. In the last two years Ricks has created and toured the popular public work the Poulnabrone Bouncy Dolmen. Alongside his own exhibitions he has curated shows in Dublin, London, Galway and San Francisco. As a member of Cause Collective he recently toured to Afghanistan with the collaborative project: In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth).
Sleepwalkers is an ongoing project in which six artists – Clodagh Emoe, Jim Ricks, Sean Lynch, Linda Quinlan, Lee Welch and Gavin Murphy – have collectively used the gallery as a place for research. The first phase attempted to reveal the process of conceiving an exhibition by the display of work and ideas in progress. This process results in each artist developing a solo exhibition at The Hugh Lane.