In 2002, Trisha Donnelly created one of her best-known “events”. Arriving on horseback at the Casey Kaplan Gallery, dressed as a Napoleonic soldier, the artist announced that the Emperor had abdicated.
This surreal intervention, now legendary, sums up Donnelly’s strangeness and mode of working. Her exhibitions are fragmented and her art takes the form of non-sense; she refuses traditional communication methods and instead expresses herself through allusion. In 2005, at an exhibition Donnelly organised at the Grazer Kunstverein in Cologne, she played Untitled (2005), a recording of an organ concert, for a few minutes after the doors opened every day, and again just before they closed. For its late or rushed visitors, the exhibition featured drawing and constructions, as well as an otherworldly voice heard at irregular intervals, uttering the words “Oooh Eeegypt”. With its mystical explorations and ethereal aesthetic, Donnelly’s work bears some similarity to the esotericism of the 1960s. Nonetheless, it clearly refers to a contemporary period of hyper-communication, fragmented, colliding images and rapid consumption. It is not authoritarian; it allows the spectator to become involved, or not, to accept the work or not.