Tuesday 18 December 2018

The invincible summer that helps you make it through winter

An installation on addiction invites us to look anew at the way we are in the world, writes Declan Lynch

James Mooney, art director, and artist Christina Reihill at the opening of The Present, an exhibiton in the crypt of Monkstown Parish Church
James Mooney, art director, and artist Christina Reihill at the opening of The Present, an exhibiton in the crypt of Monkstown Parish Church
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

THERE may be one or two of you -- there may even be thousands of you -- who are forming the view that your life might be a bit more manageable if you weren't drunk a lot of the time.

And contrary to the prevailing wisdom, this may not be the worst time of the year to do something about it.

If you are a career drinker, Christmas is a terrible imposition, a time when all the normal people think they can just pile into the pubs and drink nearly as much as you do. You don't want to be around such people.

It is entirely mysterious, the moment at which a person decides that they have had enough to drink, for one life. But in my case it happened around Christmas, long ago, so perhaps there is something in what I say here.

Yet because it is mysterious, as mysterious as addiction itself, it is not something that happens as you are reading a leaflet published by the HSE, or just because some well-meaning person has explained what an excellent idea it might be for you.

It comes through some other channel, most likely when you're not expecting it, and as such, it is a bit like the creative process. So it is deeply fitting that in addressing these matters of addiction and recovery in The Present, her installation in the Crypt at Monkstown Church, Dublin (until December 30), Christina Reihill is not lecturing, or explaining.

Instead she and designer James Mooney are being intuitive, inviting the visitor to walk through the vaults of the old church which has been divided broadly into two sections --one of which contains the things that we want (such as wine, and cigarettes, and all the information in the universe), while the other section is more concerned with the things we need.

"This is the place where we dream," she writes. It is less obviously attractive than the place where you can smoke and drink and tweet your personal tribute to Nelson Mandela, yet you sense that this is the stuff that really helps you make it through the night.

In this part of the building, on the wall there is a line by Albert Camus that could help you make it through many nights -- "in the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer".

There are many French philosophers, but Camus alone has that little touch of magic that can give you an "invincible" summer.

In drawing on such sources, Reihill and Mooney share this enormous insight -- that to move away from drink or drugs ultimately requires us to re-imagine ourselves, to look anew at the way we are in the world, not unlike the way that a writer strives to create some new vision.

Indeed I have long felt that to stop drinking may suit the creative spirit even more than drinking itself.

It could turn out to be your masterpiece.

Irish Independent

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