Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present new work by Martina Mullaney from March 10 through April 30, 2005. The exhibition will consist of Ms. Mullaney’s large-scale photographic studies of slept-in beds of homeless people in England and Wales.
Martina Mullaney has approached a difficult subject with a powerful new sensibility. She has not given us sentimentalized portraits of homeless people, but rather a deeper look at what life may be like for the down-trodden. Ms. Mullaney has found beauty in the sparse furnishings of hostels and homeless shelters. This is a hard-fought beauty though, the pictures are laden with unease, one must question whether it is acceptable to look at these photographs as we would any others. Martina Mullaney’s photographs raise important questions about how an artist represents the experience of other people, impoverished or otherwise.
In Martina Mullaney’s work, each photograph is composed identically, the mattress comprising the bottom third of the photograph and the wall next to the bed filling the top two-thirds of the frame. The photographs resemble color-field paintings, and much as the colors in such paintings reveal depth with extended viewing, details in the walls are found that are easily overlooked. Scratches, holes, stains, splatters, dirty finger-prints and electrical plugs adorn the walls next to the mattresses. The walls come in an array of discomfortingly seductive, muted colors. The mattresses, pillows and blankets that lie atop the beds are savage in their uncleanliness, but striking in their variety of color, texture and shape.
Martina Mullaney was born in Ireland in 1972. She currently lives and works in London, where she received a Masters Degree from the Royal College of Art in 2004. Her work has been exhibited abroad, including the Gallery of Photography in Dublin, Ireland, in 2004, and Ffotogallery in Wales in 2002.
MARTINA MULLANEY is presented concurrently with the exhibition PETER HUJAR: NIGHT.