Gerard Byrne: A late evening in the future, ACCA 2016: Preview

In Samuel Beckett’s one-act play Krapp’s Last Tape, the curtain rises to the mise-en-scène: ‘a late evening in the future’. For his exhibition of the same name, Irish artist Gerard Byrne employs a similar sense of drama: transforming ACCA into a theatre, and implicating the audience within an intricate, multi-sensory network of lights, flickering TV monitors, video projections and sculptural structures…

In the case of Beckett’s character Krapp, the ‘tape’ in the play’s title refers to audio recordings made by the protagonist as a younger man. In this first scene he is revealed listening over them and adding new commentary to reflect on recent years. Byrne’s exhibition makes use of the metaphor of this history of recordings, bringing together a dense accumulation of his own video works spanning more than fifteen years.

Throughout his varied practice, Byrne has explored historical ideas, conversations and locations in order to consider their contemporary relevance and to blur distinctions between past and future, myth and reality. The first major survey of the artist’s work in Australia, A late evening in the future builds on this interest in collective history and dramatic reconstruction, employing the device of a playback system to convulsively shuttle and scroll through moments of memory and cultural amnesia.