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Thoughts arising and pursued after meanings inherent and construed in the work of Conor McFeely (extract)


Since the work of Conor McFeely is finely and deliberately poised between the everyday and the outlandish, the bland and the cerebral, I want to begin with a cautionary tale – whose source I can no longer recall – concerning over reflexive analysis. There is a line in Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues which goes: ‘the pump don’t work‘cause the vandals took the handles’.1 A claim had been made on the songwriter’s behalf by an enthusiastic student of Dylan, that in this line one could discern a critique of the failure of the American Dream, the rescinded promise ofnineteenth century industrialisation under late capital, etcetera, etcetera. One wag, probably a journalist on a musicpaper, retorted that Bob would have said that, really, he was just talking about the failure of the pump.I became aware of Bob Dylan as a teenager, in the era of Stiff Little Fingers and The Clash. The Byrds’ version of Mr.Tambourine Man was on the jukebox in a local pub popular with benign bikers, music-obsessed teenage boys, andtheir real or imagined girlfriends. On Friday evenings I would return from this establishment at around midnight, toslump in front of the television. I was in an inebriated condition ameliorated only slightly bya large quantity of chips,and the long walk home (which I can still trace in memory). Thus I was first exposed to the kind of B-movie in which, as an adult, I have detected subtexts worthy of intense and sober consideration.Granting that sober consideration can coexist with somewhat hysterical delight, these movies have also prepared my mind for its encounter with the video works included in the exhibition Hidden Dips  (Andrew Stones)