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Brian Duggan

Project Arts Centre
39 East Essex Street, Temple Bar
June 10–August 13

Brian Duggan, Ryou-Un Maru, 2016, metal, wood, lights, audio, carpets, discarded and reclaimed fabrics, recycled materials, 29 1/2 x 14 x 11 1/2'.

In the midst of the carnage of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated eastern Japan in 2011, the Ryou-Un Maru fishing boat was swept out to sea: one more casualty of a catastrophic event in which almost 18,500 people died or went missing. Here it becomes the focus of artist Brian Duggan, who’s made a habit of exploring risk, hazard, and failure.

Duggan has constructed a dramatic scale model of the Ryou-Un Maru (all works 2016) out of metal, wood, carpet, and reclaimed and recycled materials, among other media. The ship, languishing at an angle and faintly illuminated by a string of lights, feels like something one might encounter on a decrepit fairground. It overwhelms the darkened gallery.

A dark colour I had never seen before is a silent film with scrolling text excerpts from survivors’ stories: “Okuma is filled with emptiness. . . . Because of this, perhaps it may well be that the present is an even harder time for me. . . . It was like sound had disappeared from the world.” Nearby is another digital film, Three hundred and ninety one days, which maps with rudimentary graphics the Ryou-Un Maru’s strange journey. The ship itself was never lost for good: It floated upright through international waters for the titular duration, unmanned and unnoticed, before being discovered off the coast of Alaska (it was then deliberately sunk because it posed a threat to maritime traffic). Duggan’s installation is a mournful, poetic experience, full of disquiet and foreboding.

Gemma Tipton