b. 1969, Dublin, Ireland.
Gerard Byrne makes video, photography and performance art. His multi-media installations reenact historic events using professional actors and theatrical techniques, using twentieth-century literature and mass media as source material. Byrne’s dramatic renenactments have included a conversation led by André Breton published in La Révolution surréaliste in 1929 (A Man and a Woman Make Love), a 1964 radio conversation on Minimalism (A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, 2010) and a 1980 Chrysler ad featuring Frank Sinatra (Why It’s Time For Imperial, Again, 2002). In New Sexual Lifestyles (2003) and 1984 and beyond (2005-07), the transcripts of Playboy interviews from the ‘60s and ‘70s become scripts that are restaged with period costumes and settings. The critical importance of context is highlighted by these dramatisations, drawing our attention to shifts in societal attitudes.
Byrne’s work is also steeped in theatrical tradition. In one photographic series, he uses stage lighting to illuminate solitary trees on Irish roadsides, adhering to the sparse stage directions of Samuel Beckett’s 1953 Modernist play Waiting for Godot: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” Avoiding the typical ‘black box’ set-up of video art, Byrne’s approach to installation has also been likened to theatre, preferring complex arrangements of screens with videos of different durations. This layered, fragmented approach – never quite repeating the same ‘loop’ – is more akin to the ephemerality of performance than the linear narrative of film.
Gerard Byrne was born in 1969 in Dublin, Ireland, where he lives and works. Current and forthcoming exhibitions include A Visibility Matrix, by Gerard Byrne & Sven Anderson, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (6 June – 25 August 2018) and the FRONT International Triennial, Cleveland (14 July – 30 September 2018). Past solo exhibitions include Jielemeguvvie guvvie sjisjnjeli – Film Inside an Image, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2017); A Late Evening in the Future, ACCA, Melbourne; Mead Galery, Warwick Arts Centre, UK (2016); GrazMuseum, Austria (2015); Kunstmuseum St Gallen, Switzerland (2015); Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; The Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (2012); IMMA, Dublin (2011); Milton Keynes Gallery (2011); The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2011); Lismore Castle Arts, Ireland (2010); The Common Guild, Glasgow (2010); ICA Boston (2008); Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (2008); Dusseldorf Kunstverein (2007); Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius (2007); MUMOK, Vienna (2006); BAK, Utrecht (2004); Frankfurter Kunstverein (2003).
In 2017, Byrne presented In Our Time, a new multi-channel video piece, at the major recurring exhibition Skulptur Projekte Münster. In 2007 Byrne represented Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He has also participated in dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, 2012; Performa, New York (2011); the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Auckland Biennial (2010); Gwangju Biennial (2008); Sydney Biennial (2008); Lyon Biennial (2007); Tate Triennial (2006); and the Istanbul Biennale (2003).