Keener was a commissioned durational daily performance and exhibition for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts 2018. Exploring themes found in the cosmic pessimism of pop culture, the materiality of fashion/corporate events, post-digital beliefs and the Irish tradition of ‘Keeners’.
The term ‘Keener’ references women hired to sing at funeral wakes as a vocal form of mourning, historically the Church accusing the practice as being ‘Paganistic’, challenging the hierarchical role of the male priests at the time. Through this exhibition this analogy is used in a musical and ‘Cosmic Pessimist’ sibylline guise to grieve the Anthropocene; presenting the claim that the “future can only be for ghosts” … to lament, entice, and detach at once. Using expanded photography, meditative pop soundscapes, CGI video and theatrical apocalyptic aesthetics to provide a decadent sculptural ambience in the historical setting of The Savings Bank, situated in the Laurieston area of Glasgow.
At the turn of the 20th century The Savings Bank was one of the largest Merchant Banks for working class people in the city and the building internally shows all the signs of opulence associated with Glasgow at this time. This exhibition for Gi2018 is interpreted in this setting as an intimate cabaret environment to subvert the traditional chanteuse singer while offering a modern Keener; lamenting the loss of the Banks ‘body’ through the creation of a Post-Digital queer space.
Matthew Arthur Williams 2018