Michael Joo (b. 1966, Ithaca, NY) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
This beautiful striped wreckage (which we interrogate) ... (2016) involves a three-part installation in the Sailor’s Home, an historical building built in 1857 on O’Curry Street, Limerick. The multimedia project incorporates video projection, an intervention in the space itself, and sculptural representations of the building’s architectural details. The video projection situated on the upper floor of the space is viewable only from the mid-story staircase landing. The video was filmed in the British Museum, London, and shows a sculpture of an “emaciated Buddha” from third-century Pakistan, which depicts the human form of the Buddha Shakyamuni in his attempt to reach enlightenment through extreme asceticism. Joo’s intervention in the ground floor of the Sailor’s Home involves using silver-nitrate to ‘mirror’ sculptural reconstructions of specific walls within the building. This process is based upon methods used in early photographic imaging involving chemically derived metallic silver.
The third part involves the building’s decorative architectural details that were salvaged during the ongoing restoration. Joo displays several of these details as sculptures in the rooms on the lower floors. Ambient light from the video serving to illuminate the space.
Joo is interested in seeing the Sailor’s Home as analogous to a body. Its somewhat mysterious past yet undeniable importance to the civic and social history of Limerick makes it a place for possible alternate narratives to unfold.
On this significant anniversary in Irish history against colonial authority, Joo utilizes the Sailor’s Home as a site of transmission between Britain and Ireland. The work can be seen as symbolic of human potential – symbolic of local and more universal concerns.