Whistling past the graveyard

Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, April 1, 2009

MERCEDES HELNWEIN’S second show at the Molesworth, Whistling Past the Graveyard, follows on seamlessly from the work in her first. Her vividly evoked imaginative world is distinctly cinematic: dramatically charged and lit, infused with tension and mystery. And, in fact, several works are titled Film Still and have the appearance of single frames excerpted from a sequence. Workaday objects, such as toy plastic models of animals, are used in a slightly sinister way.

There is a sense of protagonists engrossed in their own disturbed, hallucinatory worlds. The protagonists are usually young women, and they are alternatively strong, self-contained, in control, and possible victims. While there is a theatrical air to it all, a sense of make-believe, Helnwein maintains a genuine edginess as well, so that we can’t be quite sure that everything will be okay. It is stylish noir, delivered with considerable bravura.

Aidan Dunne, April 1, 2009