j o e   d u g g a n

The constant in the work of Joe Duggan (b. Limerick, Ireland 1973), divided between photography and installation, seems to be irony and a challenge to the observer to free himself from the tyranny of meanings: the reproduced or constructed objects are often “mute”, apparently cold, ambiguous, as if they didn’t belong to us, as if they challenged any “anthropocentric” vision. 
His first photographic works portray Duggan himself as he takes part, with several perfectly realistic tailor’s dummies, in delightful but alienating family scenes in which living and inanimate figures, reality and fiction, are ambiguously united. Subsequently the artist created hallucinated still life photographs, against a black background, of disturbing bric-a-brac, stuffed animals, plastic dolls, old second-rate paintings, wheelchairs, fake plants and rusty gears: a junkman’s wunderkammer which, with apparent lightness, arouses an almost overwhelming dreamlike dimension in the observer. 
In his most recent installations the artist appears to favour the enigmatic nature of objects that represent rudimentary fragments of religions and evoke the idea of the sacred – in dialectic with the everyday – as a construction and projection of the collective human imagination. 
A recurrent feature in Duggan is ambiguity deriving from  the ironic element in his work, over and above the disturbing presence of questions without an answer.  
“We have the impression that we cannot get involved with these images, that they don’t belong to us. We visit a world that we have built but don’t belong to. We’re induced to seek a meaning there, but it’s we ourselves who are the meaning of these objects and images, we belong to them”.


Joe Duggan has been awarded a Visual Arts Travel and Training Award by The Arts Council of Ireland in support of a two-month artist residency in Newfoundland, Canada, at Pouch Cove Foundation. 

LIFE IS NOT ENOUGH, Duggan’s first published book is a mini epic presenting a humorously bleak and cartoon-like vision of the human experience, the book suggests an existence governed by an unconscious overlord; a force that neither judges nor designs, but just is. Each copy is be numbered and signed by Joe Duggan. www.joeduggan.co.uk