If this mouth could open 2017



Justine McDonnell born Dublin (1992) is an artist based in Belfast. She works across a range of media including forms of performance, sound and video installation and text works. Her works can be seen as artistic enquiries into subjects, such as: the curated construction of the self and wider society; the commonly held belief in the authenticity of autobiography and social histories; and the decisions we make in regards to self-editing and the complicity of the state in perpetuating acceptable narratives.

 McDonnell employs the female voice in disciplined and formal structures to challenge the framework of gendered language. Acknowledging the role of the viewer as a co-author and the voice as having a primary agency in a dialectical exchange. In her works the voice is not simply a medium for communication, it has political currency in its materiality and has use beyond communication. Through acts of refusal, the voice ruptures narrative conventions and forms an integral subject within her practice; it is at once narrative, material and ideology.

 Underpinning her practice is an engagement with forms of textual response. Elements of scripting and staging are used to explore how forms of autobiographical notations can be employed to subvert the conventional mediation of narrative items, encouraging audiences into critical positions that scrutinise existing power relations. 

 McDonnell explores Brechtian staging, the alienation effect to frame the viewers encounter with her work, laying bare aspects of the artworks construction, its’ editing and formatting.Herwork sets out to challenge and rupture a passive automated response inviting instead the co-author, the viewer to re evaluate the past and present in order to re-imagine the future.