The International Studio & Curatorial Program announces the opening of women boxed,an exhibition of work by Ground Floor resident Elaine Byrne, in ISCP’s first floor Project Space. women boxed is a three-channel video installation, that invites dialogue about women’s roles in society, and includes footage of the renowned female magician, Dorothy Dietrich.
One of three videos was recently filmed on location at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Dietrich is Director. She speaks about her role as a female magician in a male-dominated industry, and discusses the classic magic trick of a glamorous woman being sawed in half by a man, first publicly performed by P.T. Selbit in January 1921. The other two videos show several other magicians performing the same stunt, and the audiences’ responses. Parallel to today’s world of ever-present gender inequality, the female assistant to the magician plays the role of victim – she is a woman who is literally encased in a box, awaiting her fate. While the male magician saws her in half, he is propelled to fame, as the audience delights in the female assistant being subjected to peril and pain. Effectively, the female assistant, largely responsible for the success of the trick, is hardly recognized. Elaine Byrne sought out Dietrich, who became known as “the first woman to saw a man in half.” At a time when women continue fighting for many freedoms and equalities all over the world, Byrne alludes to these struggles through entering the arena of magic and illusion.
Elaine Byrne (born 1970, Ireland and based in New York) examines overlooked histories, historical texts and artworks as a platform to mobilize history relating to current social concerns. Byrne received her BA from University College of Dublin, and her MA in Visual Arts Practices from IADT, Dublin, 2009. She completed the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, 2015. She has had solo shows at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin; Montoro12, Rome; Limerick City Gallery; Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin; and Atrio Cultura Space, Mexico. She was the winner of the 8th Arte Laguna sculpture prize, 2014, and TINA prize, 2015. Her work is in permanent collections including: the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the Rosenbach Museum and Library, Pennsylvania; Office of Public Works, Ireland; The Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland; and PWC, London, England. She is represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.
This exhibition is coordinated by Alexandra Friedman, Program Coordinator, ISCP.