Gerard Byrne, represented Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Byrne was well known for his ambitious video installations, photographic projects and his use of documentary materials re-enacts and recalls key moments of the latter part of the 20th century, tapping into attitudes and conventions of our recent past.
Byrne utilises video and photography to question the ways in which images are constructed, transmitted and mediated. His work examines the modes and conventions of image-making and analyses the mechanics of representation itself. Influenced by literature and theatre, Gerard Byrnes work consistently references a range of sources, from popular magazines of the recent past to iconic modernist playwrights like Brecht, Beckett, and Sartre.
The project '1984 and Beyond' (2005) featured a discussion between twelve science-fiction writers that originally took place in 1963. Filmed in the Netherlands in the Kröller-Müller Museum at the Sonsbeek Pavilion (Rietveldt, 1965) and in ‘s-Hertogenbosch at the Provinciehuis (Maaskant, 1959 -1971), 1984 gathers such characters as Arthur C. Clarke and Rod Serling, who occupy these quasi-Brutalist settings to ponder Life on Mars, artificial intelligence, and over-population. A conflation of scientific fact and extraordinary speculation, as Emily Pethick remarks, 1984 and Beyond was by no means a simple reconstruction of a document, but a collection of multiple narratives and parallel histories that lead tangentially outwards, forming connections between three time periods, 1963, 1984, and 2005.