Unloved|Sunday Times Ireland’s culture supplement 17.11.2019

The first space of Franko B’s Unloved is lit with red neon, with a chrome figure of a child, stripped and splintered, hanging like a crucifix. We know this child from a photo taken after he drowned while fleeing Syria. He is there again in the next space, lying between black granite slates, engraved with flags of western superpowers, and mirrors scribbled with the words “unloved” and “hurt”. To read them we must face the mirrors and see ourselves, then the boy, then the flags behind him. The artist seeks to transform our political pain to compassion and perhaps to action. Walking from this dark room to the next, light-washed space requires a moment of adjustment. The walls and floor are strewn with ceramic figures that look like they were cut out of a child’s drawing. These pieces, and worn-out luggage scattered throughout the exhibition, have embedded symbols, particularly hearts and crosses. The same symbols are tattooed on the artist’s face. Between the artworks are pieces of children’s clothing: a baby’s sock, a child’s shoe, upon which visitors might distractedly step. The outcome is painful; visiting this exhibition feels like raw nerves being repeatedly hit by the artist.

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