Ronan McCrea


In the film work Autodidact a series of vignettes portray a child  ‘interacting’ with a university campus: variously observing, playing, running, climbing, sitting and occupied by moments of reverie. The protagonist is located amidst A&D Wejchert’s iconic post-68 ‘brutalist’ architecture of University College Dublin Belfield campus, which itself struggles to maintain coherent identity in the face of constant change and re-development, just as the child protagonist struggles to find and maintain her role as cinematic subject.  The LCD screen displaying the black & white film is mounted on a tubular steel structure: a hybrid form between playground apparatus and abstract sculpture influenced recalling legacy of post war playground designer Aldo van Eyck.  (Interestingly in relation to the School Play photographs, van Eyck was famous for the birds eye view photographs he produced of his utopian inspired playground designs.)  Both the highly symbolic social spaces of educational institutions and the trope of ‘play’ can be seen as sites of contested signification, social and ideological anxiety, instrumentalisation and ever increasing commodification.