cleary & connolly

I once participated in my parent's research in brain imagery. They told me I had a well-organised womanly mathematical little brain. Here in yellow, the parts of my brain that are activated when I move my right hand.

I have always been fascinated by science, and I shall admit that every time it is possible to mix it with Art, you can count me in. That is why I got so interested in the work of the amazing artist couple Anne Cleary and Dennis Connolly.

They came to my french film school a year ago and I would like to present here two pieces of their work : Dutch Wax and Meta-perceptual Helmets for the Dead Zoo.




"We worked with a group of asylum seekers - lodged in an unused hotel in South County Dublin - who joined a sewing club as a way of passing the time during their extended waiting period. We bought them good quality African cloth - Dutch Wax - unavailable in Clondalkin."

Premiered at Dublin Contemporary 2011, Dutch Wax is the result of collaboration between Cleary&Connolly and the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception at Université Paris Descartes. It was created through an Arts Council Award and is produced by Dublin Contemporary 2011.

Below, a video that present their work, made with photos of those asylum seekers posing in front of some beautiful multicoloured Dutch Wax fabrics. Your job is to chose one dot in the picture (eyes are the best) and stick on it until the next picture appears (15sec). Don't move your eyes, stay still, and be amazed.


As you can see, Cleary and Connolly played here with the concept of the persistence of vision. It was a way for them to talk about the wait of the asylum seekers and make the audience go through the experience of having to stick around and be patient to finally get what they are waiting for.


The whole work of Cleary & Connolly is based on observation and participation of the audience. In every one of their work, the spectator is to be asked to be actif. Sometimes even, barely nothing is presented to them until they take part in it (check Pourquoi pas Toi?, an exhibition at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris in 2008).




One of their last work, still in progress, is again about perception, vision, and the fact that we don't see what we think we see, but what the brain analyse from the flow of information coming from our eyes when they are open. In regard to that, they decided to distort our vision by making us see in a different way and wait for the brain to analyse it and recreate the space around us. 


This idea came from George M. Stratton that created upside down googles that he wore for a week. He documented it in an article, Upright Vision and the Retinal Image. Another experience influenced their work : Stuart Anstis connected a set of goggles to a video camera that reversed black and white and converted colors to their complements. He wore those glasses for three days and documented what he lived through.


Cleary & Connolly are going further and are now creating a set of different helmets, presented below. I can't wait to read the feedbacks of the audience, and mostly, to try them and write my feelings here!

Anne Cleary and Dennis Connolly are a franco-irish art couple. You can find all their work on their website :