For Valerie Hegarty, the joy of her work lies in its destruction rather than its making. Centring her practice on the politics of the American myth, Hegarty’s canvases and sculptures replicate emblems of frontier ethos - colonial furniture, antique dishware, and heroic paintings of landscapes and national figures only to demolish them by devices associated with their historical significance.
In the pieces viewed here, Hegarty theatrically reconstructs ‘masterpieces’ based on works by Frederick Church and Thomas Moran from fragile materials such as foam-core, paper, and wood, before falsifying their ruination. Rotted and battered nearly beyond recognition, Niagara Falls literally pours from the wall as a twisted wreck; while Cracked Canyon is broken through with a seismic fissure running from the gallery floor to ceiling.
Through Hegarty’s eradicative intervention, her objects gain both formal and narrative authority. Capitalising on her highly attenuate subversion of materials, Hegarty’s work poses as artefacts of known history gone awry, envisioning an alternative world order of smug irony and poetic justice.