Phillip McCrilly / Q&A
Phillip McCrilly is one of six artists working with EVA International as part of the ‘Platform Commissions’ initiative of the 40th EVA International (31 August – 29 October 2023). In this Q&A, the artist briefly introduces the project and his working practice.
EVA: What are some of the key themes or ideas that are explored within your artistic practice?
Phillip McCrilly: Within my practice I’m interested in the transgressive and interdisciplinary possibilities of food, hospitality and education, exploring the idea of threshold in often collaborative forms. Combining somatic learning with haptic processes of making, food is frequently used as a conduit for the transference of knowledge and skills. Considering cruising and foraging as likeminded deviant practices, my research is centred around collective acts of land and property reclamation, as well as the potential for queer desire within a rural Irish context.
EVA: Could you expand upon the materials and methodologies you tend to be drawn towards within your practice?
PMC: My research often unfolds and manifests itself through writing, event-based collective performances, sculptural installation, and the preparation and manipulation of food. Considering all of these as temporary gestures and conclusions to the research, I try not to predetermine or fixate on what shape the work takes, rather leaning into the forms the work naturally lends itself to, and being flexible with the process. This methodology often results in a number of outcomes, with numerous friction points co-existing at once, and building upon each other.
EVA: Could you introduce your upcoming Platform Commissions project that will be presented as part of the 40th EVA International in Autumn 2023?
PMC: wet heat, sweats without scent is an extended research project, straddling between writing, film, installation and fermentation, in an attempt to historically renegotiate the queer body within a contemporary revision of the conflict in the North. Exploring how Northern Irish masculinities can be termed as queer in defying preconceived notions of masculine identity and performance, this project explores gender socialisation, site-specific subcultural movements, reconsidered ideas around home, as well as the potential for a fulfilled queer life in a rural Irish context. Acknowledging how the ‘post’ conflict period in the North has allowed for a renewed engagement with intimacy, the project navigates itself through the slippages of fixed research, personal biography and the unwavering relationship between people and place.
EVA: Are there any particular research and development processes or approaches that you generally engage in when preparing for a new commission or for the production of a new work?
PMC: I usually begin most projects with an extensive period of research. I tend to do a lot of writing during this time, aiming to be as critical as possible. Until recently I didn’t have a dedicated studio space, and as a result a lot of the work I was making was event-based. I’m really excited to work on this commission with the support of a space, and potential this can offer. Back in March 2022, I did an initial site visit to Limerick, having not been to the city in a fair few years. Visiting previous sites of EVA initiated commissions, and other places of local interest, I spent the majority of my time trying to get a sense of the place. I’m really glad I did this trip, and the overall commission will definitely be informed by this experience.
EVA: Could you expand upon any research plans that you hope to undertake during the development of this project?
PMC: Within my proposal I spoke about the tradition of road bowling, the early productions of Ulster Television at Havelock House, the remains of a garrison fort on the Co. Tyrone and Co. Armagh border, the ‘room’ installations of William McKeown, The Moy Horse Fair, an Anglo-French gentry sauce, as well as a history of alternative and queer social spaces in the North. Framing these disparate strands of research against a personal and formative experience of the conflict in my childhood, I’ll be working with material from the National Museums NI and Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, as well as with a local amateur historian who has extensively researched the townland I grew up in.
EVA: Are you working towards any other upcoming projects, residences or exhibitions currently?
PMC: At the moment I’m working on a food project that will form part of an exhibition happening at Catalyst Arts during the summer, an event within a public programme at Ulster Folk Museum later in the year, as well as future projects at PS2 and Golden Thread Gallery.
Phillip McCrilly is an artist, producer and chef. A member of the FRUIT SHOP artist collective, he is interested in the transgressive and interdisciplinary possibilities of food, hospitality and education. Considering cruising and foraging as likeminded deviant practices, his current research is centred around queer collective acts of land and property reclamation. Recent projects include Irish Modernisms (CCA Derry~Londonderry, 2021); and Jaunt (commissioned by Catalyst Arts and Goethe Institut London, 2021).