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Work of the Week | 23 May 2022

CAG.2811 Martin Healy, Last Man, 2011, single channel HD video, 08:23 minutes. Purchased, 2012. © the artist.

WORK OF THE WEEK

Last Man (2011) by Martin Healy follows a solitary male figure as he conducts caretaking activities in an empty building. Filmed in the old terminal of Cork Airport, the vacated site suggests a foretaste of a possible future, or perhaps the recording of a neglected past.

These possible scenarios conjure up both the concept of a world without oil – making air travel impossible – or even a future where aviation has become obsolete and what remains is nostalgia for the archaic technologies of the past.

The film’s title embodies a reference to The Last Man (1826) by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. This dystopian novel is set in the late 21st century and imagines a future pandemic that ravages the human population. Healy’s work has thus taken on eery new relevance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting loss of life, public reaction, and restrictions on aviation.

‘It’s a film about our proclivity for abandoning what is old and easily ignored once replaced,’ Cristín Leach once suggested (The Sunday Times, 9 September 2012). Indeed, ‘Healy’s Last Man is an outsider who has found his ideal home in this empty paean to cheap international travel and the promise of escape.’

Martin Healy (b.1967) is an Irish visual artist who works predominantly in video and photography. A graduate of Crawford College of Art & Design, he has exhibited widely over the past two decades and held residencies at Centre Culturel Irlandais (Paris), Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), and PS1 Contemporary Art Centre (New York).

Last Man (2011) by Martin Healy shows daily in our Screening Room (Floor 2) until 12 June.
Open daily | Free entry.

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