Defastenism is a Remodernist art movement founded in Dublin in 2004. The Defastenists are also known as The Defastenist Party. Artists who have participated in it include Gary Farrelly, Padraic E. Moore, Alexander Reilly, Liam Ryan and Sophie Iremonger.
Defastenism was founded in May 2004 by undergraduates at the Dublin National College of Art and Design, Gary Farrelly, , Ben Mullen, Alexander Reilly and Seanan Kerr. Moore, Farrelly and Reilly co-wrote a Defastenist manifesto. The membership consists of artists, musicians, architects, writers, film makers and designers. The Defastenists are a self-declared Remodernist art movement. "Defastenism" is a term coined by the group. Moore described the use of the word:
- The term comes specifically from the idea of unbuckling the metaphorical seatbelt. The concept that one must "Defasten" from the Jetzeit.The aeroplane—a constant motif in Defastenist art—is one of the symbols, which we believe defines our zeitgeist.
The Defastenists believe contemporary culture has become afflicted by "cultural paralysis", and endeavour to construct a revolution of "vigour and vitality".
They have a strongly theatrical, propagandistic and rhetorical self-promotional style (reminiscent of early 20th Century movements such as Dada), including appointing themselves to ministerial posts of the imaginary "Kunstrepublic". This ideological DKR nation was according to Padraic Moore, "definitely a symptom of not being able to deal with the city that we’re living in." Their expression of an inner world has some parallels with Surrealism, as does their fixation with obsolescence and the uncanny.
As of 2007,with the resignation of Alexander Reilly the remaining group's most prominent members are Liam Ryan(London), Padraic E. Moore (Dublin), Gary Farrelly (based in Paris), David Turpin (Dublin), Donna Marie O'Donovan (Dublin) and Christoph Kronke (Berlin).
The Defastenists state:
- We believe that art is a mission demanding complete fanaticism.
- It is our duty as Defastenists to excavate fully our fetishes, obsessions and desires through material forms of cultural production.
- We oppose aesthetic dematerialization and are dedicated to the art object, the obsessive generation of which manifests itself in all aspects of Defastenist activity.
- Our meticulous process of production in any and all media reflects a fundamental faith in the Utopian functions of art.
- We reject cynicism and disaffection. We are allied to the founding Fathers and Mothers of Modernism and share their faith in progress.
- Defastenism proposes an art that is all encompassing. Our practice unites the conscious and the unconscious, the private and the public. It is inflected with nostalgia; it is of the present and for the future.
- The Defastenist Party and its members assume an auto-propulsive role in the actualisation of personal and professional ambitions, while maintaining complete loyalty to the Party.
- We aspire to be both an institution and an Establishment, complete with rules and rigour.
- At all times there exists a physical headquarters from which we conduct our ventures and campaigns.
Initially the Defastenists staged weekly cabarets or happenings ("Cabaretta Defastena") in Dublin, and have held similar events consisting of performance, lectures, and recitals in Galway, Belfast, London, Paris and Berlin. They have staged group shows in Dublin, Limerick, Berlin and Paris, exhibiting mainly two-dimensional art in random styles and installations. Happenings and screenings include Europa and Kunstbahnhoff.
|“||They're the most vital thing that's happened in contemporary art in Dublin in a while. Free of unhealthy reverence for current icons of the contemporary art world, the Dublin Defastenists make colourful and gorgeous art based on (sometimes) unhealthy obsessions.||”|
In August 2005, Gary Farrelly and Alex Reilly represented the Defastenists in Addressing the Shadow and Making Friends with Wild Dogs: Remodernism at CBGB 313 gallery in New York, along with Stuckist artists and Remodernist film makers and Stuckist Photographers.
In 2005, Victoria Mary Clarke, author and now wife of Shane MacGowan, joined the group, having heard the members were attractive young men who liked dressing in white tailcoats. She received a show invite which read:
- Dearest dearest, We, the Defastenists, call upon all those who hear us to crucify bordom (sic) and destroy negativity. It is our aim to encourage and incite optimism, regeneration, enthusiasm, self-excavation, and ultimately a fresh,non-elitist scene which expresses itself through the universal language of art.
As a result, a Happening, filmed by Sky One, took place at the home of Clarke's friend, Marina Guinness, consisting of an art display in a marquee on the lawn, the coronation of the hostess as Defastenist queen, pole-dancing, a trip to a meteor site, the burning of an effigy of negativity, buckets of Pimms and strawberries eaten off Defastenist Sophie Iremonger's naked body.
The Third Defastenist Exhibition took place at Liberty Hall, Dublin, on 14 September 2005.
Crisis, decline and post Defastenist activity
The Defastenists have not exhibited or published as a unified group since early 2006. All of the practitioners involved in the group continue to work in a manner closely in line with the ideals expressed in the Defastenist Manifesto. Certain members of the group have collaborated on non-defastenist - obsessive art projects such as PLANS SECTIONS AND ELEVATIONS an exhibition curated by Moore involving Farrelly, Turpin and Kronke which went on show at The Royal Institute of architects, Dublin in 2007. Several members of the group also collaborated on the 2009 periodical The New Obsessive.
Notes and references
- Clarke, Victoria Mary. "Why I never became an artist", Irish Independent, 11 September 2005. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
- Sherwin, Brian. "Art Space Talk: Padraic Moore", myartspace.com, 31 October 2006. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
- White, Trevor; Reddy, Nicola; Roche, Katie; Freyne, Patrick. "Mavericks: Padraic Moore", The Dubliner, 14 September 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
- "Memorable moments from the cultural year, Irish Times, 17 December 2005.
- "Archive: Some past Stuckist shows", stuckism.com. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
- Galerie W : art contemporain (exposition peinture et sculpture - atelier d'art) pour artistes vivants
- Main Defastenism site
- Stuckists site
- Article on Defastenism exhibition in Circa art magazine
- Gary Farrelly's web site
- Defastenist blogspot
- The Island of Defastena