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New site-specific installation by Canadian artist Megan Rooney on view at Tramway
MOMMA! MOMMA!, 2017. Installation views. Courtesy of Megan Rooney, London and Tramway, Glasgow. All photos © Keith Hunter.

GLASGOW.- MOMMA! MOMMA! is a new site-specific installation by Canadian artist Megan Rooney whose work encompasses painting, performance, written and spoken word, sculpture and installation. Rooney combines these elements to create an enigmatic, immersive form of storytelling that expands and contracts across various media. In careful continuity with the language of previous works, Rooney’s installation at Tramway draws on a familiar set of textures and reference points to create an environment that is at once intimate and inviting, threatening and unnerving.

A female figure is collapsed on the floor, her soft head and torso are propped awkwardly against the wall, long legs with candles burned and burning stretch into the room. Around her is a gnomic array of forms fashioned from ordinary materials that make strange and disconcert, evoking a narrative that is both vivid and inscrutable. Various characters and narratives emerge through the accumulation of debris and reformed materials, the remains of something safe and domestic, now rendered waste or forgotten.

Across the floor are assembled piles of newspapers; wrinkled with time and layers of paint, their disposable material turned to solid sculpture. Within Rooney’s delicately arranged world, references are uneasy and indistinct: like a redacted conversation or an unfinished dialogue. What is missing can be felt and anticipated, yet remains immaterial, hovering at the edge of the senses.

Each object side-steps out of itself, lingers between inert and active, as though at its core is a flickering current that could burst into scorched life at any moment. Who, or what, lives here? And when, or how, might they be reanimated? Does Momma walk at night, in the dusk, a diseased waltz, with her beating heart resurrected, a fragile secret? How close can you get to a fear that is burned with love, a body that is fluid but leaks? Does the story open or close? Are you welcome and could you escape it? What has been buried and what should stay hidden?

Coursing beneath the surfaces of Rooney’s objects, stained and seductive, is an undercurrent of fear twined with insouciance. Rooney revels in the tender and spectacular qualities of everyday detritus and how it can be connected to other materials and contexts. The grace of cheap luxuries transformed and all the potential narratives evoked by a collection of things is bound by place and affinity - a kind of family resemblance that is like the afterglow, burn, sear of a hot image on the retina.

This exhibition has been co-commissioned by Tramway and MAP, in association with the MAP commission Others got wings for Flying. The exhibition will conclude with a performance by Andrew Graham & Megan Rooney, commissioned by MAP in partnership with Cove Park, Argyll and Tramway, Glasgow and generously supported by Creative Scotland and Canada Arts Council.

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