Problem Phase no Problem

Problem Phase no Problem

McConigly’s proposition for the series of works in the exhibition “Problem Phase no Problem” lies in the use of flat, entangled imagery – the heaviness of interfering patterns and hard edges. The flat patterns as a starting point creates a restrictive one dimensional surface which is then confronted and enabled through a vocabulary of abstract forms. 

To this end, the paintings can be seen as undergoing a kind of phase shift, where colour and structure are altered through multiple positions – problem solving through transformative abstraction. This extreme flatness combined with constant signals, actions, and decisions bring a disruptive visual approach to the problem of painting. 

Whether impulsively or gradually, this process refocuses the work, allowing it to become more than its constituent parts, creating paintings which are sinister in their use of line, impulsive in their expression, and open in their possibility of interpretation. Engaging with altering trajectories in this way allows the work to take on suggestive and informative dimensions for the viewer. 

Problem Phase no Problem

Its as if the problem, the one we began with, contained no visible connotations.

(And afterwards? What would it be after you moved it / phased it?)

The phase thing happens at all stages, it’s not concentrated to only one part of the process. 

(But I thought you were trying to find the…)

Wait. Imagine you take a round object and move it through an open space.

No wait, not round, but elliptical and spherical… what’s it called? Ellipsoid.

(You lost me.) 

Wait. I haven’t even…


If you fold a plane awkwardly over the ellipsoid, such that the plane crumbles like a sheet of paper that contains a drawing, but nothing came of it, 

(Aside: Whats the drawing? – chorus / multiply “we need to see that”)

…then the points where the folds touch the ellipsoid, or where the scratched surface reappears – that is the starting point of the painting, except now on a flat surface, which is reshaped sometimes back into objects with depth. 

(Which phase are we in now?)

The difficulty now is transference – from one 

(…idea to another…. / You got it!)

… from one mode of decision making to another, trying to solve it in different ways.

(would one way not be enough, and what would the solution try to be?)

A fair question. Harmony…



Minda Andrén & Phelim McConigly

Reasons for leaning: comfort, aggression, political, olfactory, weight distribution, other.

If it was in my nature to lean so far to one side, I would have done so already.
The fact is, that leaning in a timely manner just a little, like this…. will only get you so far.

What if I lean too far to either side? It could really put things off balance. However, if I lean forward, for example, I can perceive your thoughts in a slightly different manner, and possibly even have a renewed perception in certain situations.

The direction of the lean, either forwards, backwards, or to either side, will allow the leaning character to lead the direction of the conversation. It becomes then, not only a manner in which to gain extra weight from a situation, but can be used to influence in a particular direction. If one leans far enough, the conversation will be dominated by the fact that the lean has become something other, perhaps an entirely different focus for the situation.

Lean in, like this: take the weight off one foot, put the pressure on the other, and keep the lean until either of these two things happen: you perceive the situation differently, or the situation changes based on the propensity of the lean.

Would the conversation be differently influenced, based on the direction of the lean? A left or right lean could be obviously appropriated as being politically motivated, but a forwards or backwards lean could contain a more personal ambition, either to be part of something, going forwards, or to remove oneself from an unpleasant situation, in going backwards.

It could also influence others, not only in conversation, but in a situation, to start leaning also. Is that what is achieved here, for people to lean with you, or even against you, onto you, into you?


Untere Donaulände 12 / 4020 Linz
Opening – 7/5 2019 7pm, Exhibition – 8 — 30/5 2019

Pimlico Palatschinken

26th & 27th of April 2019
De Pimlico Projects, London, UK
Andrew Mezvinsky will be presenting my work in a turn of the century Georgian House along with Palatschinken and the work of Brishty AlamMinda AndrénOlivia CoelnMarina FaustClegg and GuttmannBarbara HainzSebastian HochNicolas JasminBirigit KnoechlBenedikt LedeburPhelim McconiglyRita NitschFlavio PalascianoDoris PanholzerSophie PoelzlHerwig ScherabonNora SeveriosEva SchlegelAxel StockburgerMarina SulaDraschan ThomasInes TurianAlexander Jackson Wyatt, et al.

< t < a < n > g e > n < t > > c y


It’s as if something… that could orbit, something referring one object to another. Think of two dancers, dance, with a movement seen from above that forms a tangent, it lets loose, one object of another, flung through a space. Neither knows exactly the…

No, it’s not that either.

It’s the lack of any precise movement, its the timing of things, in relation to… In relation to…

There’s no use trying to define it here.

Imagine a series of situations where objects on a surface change their location over time, who is to say that while those objects are attempting change, that the background, having its own agency, can not transform also.

So what is the point then? I don’t get it?

Quantum dancers, tangential space, non-linear movement. Seething, leering, movement, political movement, its as if, through trying to combine these forces, that new agency can manifest.

Is that not how all agency manifests?

You’re right, its true, there is no definition of agency as movement, it is not defined, it just is, it is present in the work, present in the viewer, the patient, the transcriber of an unknown origin.

Where was the video with the boat made?

B is for Bobr.

“ … this was the river B, A was rowing the boat…and we were on the way to make these paintings on these white cubes in the middle of nowhere … ” – D

The show <t<a<n>ge>n<t>>cy presented at the Austrian embassy in Beijing is the result of a chain of (good) events, bringing together three artist collectives,<dienstag abend>, See you next Thursday Kunstverein (SYNT) and Fusion Reaction.

Floor Tangent

. Axel Stockburger (AT)

. Desmond Mah (AU)

. Dora Deliyska (BG)

. Dorota Walentynowicz (PL)

. Fernando Mesquita (PT)

. Kai Maier-Rothe (DE)

. Lia Karl (AT)

. Phelim McConigly (IR)

. Sophie Thun (PL)

. Xi Wang (CN)

. Zeng Xin (CN)

Art & Agency in the Medical Environment @ MedUni Pleven

From the Periphery to the Core, the Appendix to the Heart

Art and Agency in the Medical Environment

A conversation on the possibilities of trans-disciplinary ideas in artistic practice, specifically between contemporary art, its institutions, and the spaces in which those institutions exist.

As example the medical environment, a discussion on the differences and similarities between the disciplines of medicine, architecture and art, specifically in terms of how we see and use space in environments such as hospitals.

An architectural perspective on space first, and transfer similar patterns of knowledge onto the spaces in which art can exist.

Resilience is performed in our very own imagination

Publication: Journal of Irish Studies: McConigly, Phelim. “Resilience is performed in our very own imagination, An Artistic Intervention.” In Daredevils of History? Resilience in Armenia and Ireland, edited by Suzan Meryem Rosita and Dieter Reinisch, 207-210. Florence: Firenze University Press, 2018.

Image as Fortress, Art On Route Festival, Heraklion

Having started work on the Heraklion versions of “Fortress Image” as mimetic sculpture, I would like to continue this project with a work in the city which reflects the eclectic mix of style of architecture in the cities history.

In his book Mimesis & Alterity by Michael Taussig he talks of the fortress-images of the Kalu-Tigun, “the rhomboid shapes in the upper part of the building are tables, the same sort of “tables” (vulvas) that appear in the creation of the world, reminding us that while the buildings may serve as the model, and in serving as such fulfill a deadly serious mandate of fidelity, nevertheless such fidelity has its tricks. Euclidian space is shattered, as is the logic of identity.”

The mural would look at the identity of the city as architectural mimesis which considers its own origins, and the alterity introduced over time to the aesthetics of the city landscape. Having spent time in Heraklion in 2015, and having found a fascination in the quality of difference on each street corner, my idea then was to integrate and fortify a work in open space which utilised this alternative address of euclidian space.

Lombardia, Longbeard, (Long… Beard…)

Performative Installation @ Schneiderei / Studio Ruyter, Wien

The illusion of safety in an object – is also a reworking of a previous piece which I made regarding this Bulgarian Architect Atanas Petrov, who I’ve been in contact with because of his medical museum from 1965 in Bulgaria. I’ve been working with that space both as the formation of ideas regarding institutionality and artistic research since 2015.

I remade my last work on this topic into this more precarious hanging work,  as a method of reflecting on gaps in knowledge I have of the Architect and his character.

The text is a recorded conversation between the Architect and I from 2016. It is one of the few tangible pieces of work I have in connection to Atanas Petrov and his history, but also my first meeting with him. The text is only somewhat readable, as the transcription is sometimes vaguer than the accuracy of the translation, partly due to his inability to stick to, for example topics such as modernism in soviet Bulgaria, but alluding further into history, Greek antiquity and sometimes mythology, emblems, symbols, and artefacts of interest to him.
The conversation, as it is, being full of holes and part information, I have attempted to appropriate in this reordering, – its (re)animism, its precariousness, its difficulty, its differentiation from its previous form. The transcription is loose. Re-hanging this work, originally a reflection on the foundation of the medical museum – foundation in terms of re-institutionalising the unused building as a contemporary space existent within the hospital.

Nae Nae, not from Pleven, Silistra. They both eh when they were born there it was Romanian.

Dr. Greganski was his best friend, he asked him to build this museum together with this guy. He is a doctor. Write this down: He is the founder of the Pleven Medical Academy, and he was the one… Moment… Founder of. And he asked you to. Musea. They were friends. He was telling him about the Trachean archaeological  past of the region, and they influenced each other… Centre. Bolnamisea (hospital). Trachea. 2 years ago they found a graveyard with a mask from 2nd century Trachea from someone who was described in Homer’s Iliad – someone who was with Agamemnon. This is interesting for you. Ilion and Troya. Now. This mask was much more beautiful than the one in Greek. I don’t want to provoke you because you are Irish, but because you love Britain so much. Gervana (flag) Anglia – the three lions like a country sign (two to the east, one to the west) this was taken from the Bulgarians – this is in the British Museum, and in Valace downiae (?) even Elizabeth the second, they are wearing with the Bulgarian (I don’t know how to say it in English) testament. The first lecture eh ehe he. Eh. ? With two… na evrot (laughter) Govesavenia. Not the Roman testament but the Bulgarian – Orthodox? I took my camera with me, I walked around, and I found this building. I asked Tashko what it was, and he told me it was the old medical museum. I asked for more information and he gave me this book (150 year history of the hospital). This book has your name in it (Atanas Petrov). They wanted also a picture of him but he didn’t want to give them one. They were best friends with the writer (of the book). Every evening they were talking. When is the last time you have seen the museum. 30 years ago… In the eighties? Was it still open? Yes it was working… He gave him as a present an artifact. From the museum? No no. a medallion. Rimski provincial. Selo Gigen (village) The big park there… If you go there you will see the train platforms and the train tracks and the horse and cart have made traces on the streets, you can still see the traces from the horse carts… very strange feeling you get there. Then i suggested to him… and it was forbidden before, to make a copy. You cannot imagine the Anatomy of this face (Eskolop). He (Atanas) has a copy of this medal at home. If you move it towards the light, you can see the reflection of all the muscles of the…. Mmmm (in agreement) Where did you get the medallion? In relation to the museum? No No No this is something different. Mask of Agamemnon, da… Let’s go back to the architecture… The architectural design. Architectural idea – plastica he took from the Helinski Demos – Greek state parliament. Trojanskata, Atrium, yard inside. In this building was the parliament. In their yard it was open. No portal. There is a portal, no but not a door, there is – you can see here, there is a door. And then the people went inside, and when they had a discussion, they went inside. They were working one month in the year, this is my idea, he thinks they were in December, from the 24th November to 24th December, because then it starts the light new year. Because you are an artist three months ago in Italy they made a monument of Altec. Altec is the smallest son of Kubrat, write this down, and this is the old Bulgarian Kahn. Kubrat is the father. He united the French right to create France. Lombardia Longbeard (Long.. beard…) Let him ask you the questions because otherwise… Concentrate on the connection between Demos and Kubrat / Longbeard. There is none. Have you been to Pompeii? Everything… the main building… It also has a very… Da… He wanted them to cover it with glass so that you could protect it but they didn’t want. Also quite modernist elements. It’s not typical for Bulgaria… it’s a modernist… Yes the details. The composition is old greek and the details are modernist. The details, the modernist, economic of Bulgaria, in Bulgaria it was… moment. Moment. Moment. He says. Bulgaria back in the days, there was no money for details so he would do it more modernist. There was no money, not for details. The excuse is the modernism, something similar to the architect, Walter Gropius, new classicism, but the elements are not detailed as beautiful, a little bit more simple and dry. In Pleven in 1965 there was no modernist ideas. He says this is… nobody said do it like this, he just did it. He spoke about these things a lot with Dr. Greganski. This was your first building? No, he says this is not even part of my work, I have beautiful buildings. Ahhh. (something about Pleven). Where the big roundabout is, a viaduct… It’s a very powerful building. It has a very dark aspect on the corner…. NO! Manhattan, no. His one is modernist and simple. It’s a manufacture for modern Italian clothing. 68 he made it. He wanted inside to be like mode show, italian haute couture. Technologically, its covering still another building, the eiffel tower. Aaaah. Going to the sky. He will paint it for you. 34:20 – 34:40 (only bulgarian spoken while Atanas is drawing his ‘Eiffel Tower’). He doesn’t recognise this (museum) as an important building, it’s not even part of my main work. The plan of it is… these are the apartments. Corridor. Here is the lift. There was an earthquake, he didn’t even prepare, thanks to him (some other architect?), the highest building in Pleven. 23 floors, it didn’t move??? This is a bus stop called the Chinese Wall. 25 years before. After I saw that it is the same structure. Important is that in the centre is the lift. When did you start building? 64. So its a very early building 65 yes Media is 68 70. We didn’t, everything was. And this wall was also part of the plan? Yes. To close the panorama view in the inner courtyard. Doctors who died in the fight against. Memorial for doctors. And it was protecting. He says he is always. And the wall is not straight. This is why. If there is water, Ah no wait there is a gap, 2 metres, maybe 3, not 10. If there is something like fire, evacuation should be fast not like… something. Do you have plans of the museum? No. He made it without money, without contract, I was working but nobody paid. To make a comparison there are five buildings in Druzba the area where he lives… I made this one. Lots of people are scared of this height. They think they will fall. In order to not have this feeling he made… mmm hmmm. Yah. Da da da. Functionally very… but he is… Gerganski was totally a mess, and I don’t give a shit about these things either, we did it and then… A few years ago… I spent some time with Tashko. How do we work within this institution, the part of the hospital that is not used. The Appendix of the body… When I found it… He says that they were making exhibitions, there were beautiful flowers… He is like, oh I can imagine…. The museum was used as storage for 25 years. The windows are broken, this wall is gone, the roof is broken. Because 20 years ago, the medical institution registered as a business… I think he is a bit… There is no spirit, no art, no culture. But this is what we are doing now, no expectations, My grandson. Because he has an idea like this sometimes. This year he graduated architecture, his diplom arbeit, they chose together, and I suggested, one old historical museum, the museum, in Pleven, the whole… area of the museum to close it. Together with architecture like an amphitheater, open performances, hotels, restoration… Archeological facts to make as souvenirs, not to make some kitsch. His arbeit is not… My interest is not… I come to the space as an artist… the idea is not to restore, 25 years of storage was cleared, we spent a long time to get an empty space. A nice staccato floor. Black white black white… Why did he do that, oh because he wanted to. If you want to reinvest in this, it should no longer be part of the hospital. He wrote to the mayor some years ago, the fountains in Pleven. He is just explaining that… Rivoli in Paris. Ramkite. Inside there is a plastic architectural structure, in the courtyard there is potential, and inside the gardens, there is – even in England. Lots of people used the hof, even now. They make elements that have a ritual/spiritual influence. Here you did a good job. Even after, you see the changes that you made since. Its connected, its genetic.  You have his genetic memory. The Hospital, is not the place for keeping this space, Gredanski was like – maybe. They were speaking alot with Ilian hey lets… make a Quartal. Last year, while setting up, it was a long weekend, a large container removed old furniture. There was a fountain. The wall is there but not the water. Inside the museum, ah there’s a hole in the ground. Yes that’s where the fountain was. It’s a medical institution, as a private business, and their first priority is towards the buildings, to allow us to work there. Yes but there are two options, either you restore it or leave it to the hospital, if you come and use it as is, then who are you? I am an observer… You shouldn’t be surprised that… Jerusalem? The castle of Solomon. There the building of Solomon in 1287 when Jerusalem was finished, and became the capital of Imperial Rome, this castle was made into horse stables. So don’t be surprised, after there were no… Da. Some historical… They were protecting the castle. Nothing interesting. For me – from an art institution, to the medical, and the practice around that. Institution as a Sphere. How do you find the interest to work there, it is not architecture, but I see the interest in the architecture. I see the function of the hospital, but through… The architectural plastica – is a space for function a flow that covers ideas. There is a very interesting book called Architectural hilfsmittel. Mark Wigley – an inner skin. Kristo Vashev. We were studying together. His Professor. He didn’t make any painting. Painting was more academic. Atanas Petrov was a phantom. Do it do it, but he didn’t realise that it did happen. He is like me we are similar, we are connected. There is a connection between medicine and art. You can invent one, yes. Three years before I made that museum, I went with the director of all the museums to nocopolo and to look at the big Marin – on the top of the ship there is a protective weapon, a cannon. So he sees one on the edge of the Donau during the ruska Turkish war or it fell, during the transportation, stayed there forever. Lets use this one – put it on the castle so that you can see it from the Donau, and they were like… My colleagues the architects wanted to take it up and put it on the castle, ok we do it we do it but that was not what i wanted to say, when we actually tried to pull it up he brought me to one really small church, one of the earliest christian churches in nikopol, very small, just beside it one graveyard, one coffin, there was… when it is full of water, not to destroy it, it came out from here. Romans did it. On the bottom something was written in French. And then i decided to… 18th century a french guy cameby. nikopolo. This is a cercofak (cercophagues) devoted to Ehlia – she was the wife of the Roman main guy in the capital. She died very young, and this is a very poetic lyrical place for her. She is the Roman goddess for souls, for dead people. Place de Concorde. Dujarden the french guy writes down on the coffin which was actually ? Shisman (workers) Now people are studying this in the architectural departments. On the danube, beside the Romanian border. Silistra – Sculpture park. How the fuck does he know that… Danubius. Dunav…

Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien

Diploma, June 2017

“Foundation” is a 1:5 scale model of the plan (foundation) of the medical museum on the grounds of the University Hospital Georgi Stranski, Pleven, Bulgaria. I have been working with this museum in various projects since 2014 as artist/curator. It is a modest modernist structure built in 1965, and in use as a medical museum until 1989. The title “Foundation” also relates to the architect of the museum – Atanas Petrov, mentioned in the hospital archives, who I searched for until finally meeting in August 2016. In 2015 I established the semi-fictional Atanas Petrov Foundation in his name, for use as a vehicle which could drive a curatorial practice. “Foundation”, which is aesthetically informed by my practice in painting, digital media and intervention in public space, such as the interference of patterns and use of site specific or historical material, references my work in situated practice – involving curation and use of alternative space. “Foundation” is a balance between the ideas of institutionality, architecture, installation/assemblage, public space and social relations.

The booklet accompanying the installation (see attached pdf) is the result of my first conversation with the Architect Atanas Petrov containing architectural ideas on the museum, changing stories, unfinished topics.. Atanas drifts from questions on the museum to archeological ideas of interest to him – incomplete and varied. The transcripted text between Atanas, myself, and a translator, ambiguously reasons the sense of drift between languages, time and consequence.

The centrefold of the attached pdf contains an image of the Architect Atanas Petrov re-constituting a removed memorial wall which was part of the original architectural structure. My reasoning behind this photo, taken specifically as part of my diploma work was to replace a culture of belief with a culture of being, a tongue in cheek immortalisation of the architect as part of his own structure, and as such a return to more natural or human sense of belonging to space, without any ideologies attached.

I make no attempt to charge the history of communist Bulgaria or the architect or that space. The reasons for projects on site were not to accentuate some nostalgic view on modernism under communism, but to understand how to find a valid use now for what is left in its changing context, without destroying cultural heritage. Specific situations, or situated practice – as a form of bridge making to our own history, to learn from problematic ideology in order to find a way to live and die effectively in and among each other.

“I am not interested in reconciliation or restoration, but I am deeply committed to the more modest possibilities of partial recuperation and getting on together. Call that staying with the trouble. And so I look for real stories that are also speculative fabulations and speculative realisms. These are stories in which multispecies players, who are enmeshed in partial and flawed translations across difference, redo ways of living and dying attuned to still possible finite flourishing, still possible recuperation… that which inhabits living and dying accountably to leave the marks of care for those who come after… we can lead ourselves to a vision for living on the earth, a multi species multi class poly-vocal political kind with a vision of justice and a time to come that could be somewhat habitable.” — Haraway

On the assembly of “Foundation”, I recognise the possibility of change in my work, and by that I mean that the ideas evolve and are informed over time by other agencies – ephemeral and mutational, without requiring heavy/fixed sculptures on topics which try to understand or legitimise an ideology of now, but rather allow ideas to evolve as an assemblage. The individual parts make up the whole, but their interaction is active, subject to change. The soft foam bedding with heavy reinforcing steel, interfaced with an abstract array of forms, bound together with gips bandage, recreating the animate stage on which our present necessitates, weaving into our built space.

Future aspects of this project, ongoing at the medical museum with collaboration between artists and architects, sociologists and medical professionals under the Atanas Petrov Foundation are in planning (such as a phd at Akbild Wien, as discussed with  Prof. Sabeth Buchmann starting 2018), with the idea of recuperation as method. Recuperation can be taken as recuperation of the medical museum and care of its histories, care as a service to the patient, care within the institution and its problems at hand, care of the museum park and its environment, invasive or other. It is not the intention to envisage all factors as equal, but that all are present in the same specificity (site) and shall continue to have possible futures if we care for them properly. Ideas for that space would be to recuperate the medical museum as a contemporary institution for use within the medical institution – a parasitic form of institutionality which questions the role of artist as service provider, but also describes how artistic practice can provide a service in the function of care, and how this in turn can inform artistic practice.

Architectural space, when described through the anthropological theory of art as “social relations in the vicinity of objects mediating social agency” (-Alfred Gell) allows for us to “reclaim animism” (- Isabelle Stengers) as an important tool of our research, outside the objectivity of science and the subjective triumphalism of modernism. Our foremost agent here, the medical museum, has the potential to ascertain qualities of description which occur within social relations, the field of medicine, the stigma of illness and the emotional response to it. How can we develop a space with an animative power, inviting participation which can deal with what ethnologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro has called a “decolonization of thought”, outside of hegemonic scientific rationality, which can be understood as itself the product of a colonization process? To build this bridge to animism from within an institutional basis of rational processes. Recuperation on empirical levels of the thoughts and futures of beings and animate space, one that ignores the modernist aspirations of appropriative suprematism, by reinvigorating the space far removed from its hegemonic origins, one that looks toward the individual, the patient as active partner in the conversations that unfold there.


Parallax @ Medical Museum, Uni.Hospital Georgi Stranski, Pleven, Bulgaria

w/ Atanas Petrov Foundation


The “Parallax” project aims to create a permanent installation of works in the medical museum, which is representative of the political and social upheaval from its founding in 1965, the 50+ years of the structures existence, including its closure around 1989 and reopening in 2015 with the exhibition titled “Appendix”.

This second project “Parallax” at the museum furthers the foundation’s goals of working concretely on the (non traumatic) historical concerns of this modest socialist modernist museum and its surroundings.

It accesses themes such as (un)documentation, accessibility, cure/care as artists explore the characteristics and experience surrounding the historical and political environment of the Architect Petrov’s era through intervention in architecture, art dealing with biopolitics, the significance of identity politics in describing a multifaceted dividualism, the culture of being versus belief, institutional critique and the dispositives of art, science, medicine and architecture.

The Atanas Petrov Foundation, in existence since 2015, first made contact with the architect in 2016, who, as guest at the opening of Parallax, made the first donation of his research work to the foundation.