The Road (after McCarthy) 2013

‘The Road (after McCarthy)’ is a single-screen video made in response to Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel ‘The Road’. The work was commissioned by the Arts Department of Wexford County Council in association with New Ross Town Council for ‘Beyond the Frontier’ (19th June- 4th July, 2013) a contemporary video art exhibition where all videoworks were screened in shop windows throughout New Ross town. The exhibition engaged with the major celebrations of JFK50 The Homecoming, in commemoration of John F Kennedy’s visit to New Ross in 1963.

Artists: Mary-Ruth Walsh, Alan Butler, Brigid McLeer, Wolfgang Lehrner, Emily Richardson

Curated by Deirdre Southey

‘The Road (after McCarthy)’ draws on McCarthy’s intensely distilled and dystopic vision articulated through a text in which the word ‘dark’ appears 130 times in a book of only 241 pages. Like a kind of pigmentation ‘dark’ soaks through the bleak narrative however it is continually diluted by the humanity of exchange between the two main characters of the book, an unnamed father and son, exemplified by the simple reiteration of the word ‘okay’. The work extracts all of the instances in the novel of the words ‘dark’ and ‘okay’ and recompresses them into a new time-based sequence.

McCarthy is a quintessentially American writer in the tradition of Faulkner or Hemmingway however he is also, as Kennedy was, a descendent of Irish immigrants. His work roughly spans the 50 years since Kennedy visited New Ross and although The Road was written in 2006, it is a timeless, almost allegorical work whose future could be any future, anywhere, in any time.

As with previous work by the artist in which she extracts texts from novels (such as Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Jealousy, Kobo Abe’s The Face of Another or James Joyce’s Ulysses) ‘The Road (after McCarthy)’ seeks to continue and extend some of these resonances in a new visual form in order to open up new, but related, readings.

Shown as a single screen work (HD 19:32m loop) on a monitor in a shop window, the installation of the video plays with layers of opacity and reflection, intimacy and distraction.

Video Extract