Curated Visual Arts Award
Conor Mc Feely
Curated by Mike Nelson
26 February – 28 March 2008
McFeely's works have an emphasis on the manipulation of space and the idiosyncratic use of materials. The contexts for these works have been varied and include references to literature, cinema, art history and social contexts amongst others. He has been referred to by the Guardian newspaper as 'a twenty-first century electro-anarchist.'
The starting point for this work was a response to the series of experiments carried out by the Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer in the first two decades of the 20th century to establish the law of “the inheritance of acquired characteristics”. His ideas sat in direct contradiction to the Darwinian theory of evolution that insisted that acquired characteristics could not be inherited.
Kammerer was exceptionally skilled in the handling and breeding of toads and frogs in laboratory conditions. His findings were based on the study of particular toads in captivity over extended periods of time within alien environments artificially created in his laboratory in the Vivarium in Vienna. Ultimately when his findings were dismissed as falsified Kammerer committed sucide. His work was since reasessed and given creedence in the book The Case of the Midwife Toad written by Arthur Koestler where he re-examined the work carried out by Kamerrer.