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Dear J.J., I read with interest...

2006 - 2011

slide projection, photographs, found material


Published posthumously in 1967, Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman presents many surreal situations. An eccentric scientist who can prove the world is sausage shaped, a version of hell

that seems remarkably like the Irish midlands, and a visit to an underground control station that turns out to be the location of eternity all feature. Flann also describes the atomic theory, where prolonged physical contact between man and his physical surroundings result in a kind of atom exchange. This results in a bond between man and bicycle, and the development of a close metaphysical and sometimes erotic relationship. Local police attempt to keep this phenomenon under control.

An unofficial monument to the book located on Carauntoohill, Ireland’s highest mountain, was reported in a letter by J.J. Toomey of Bishopstown, Cork to The Irish Times, in 1986. It featured

an image of a bicycle upon a steel pole at the summit, surmounted by a man apparently dressed

as a policeman. This monument superceded a large metal crucifix placed on the summit by the local Catholic Church, so symbolicly replacing the dominant belief system of Ireland with the associative digression inherent in O'Brien's proto-postmodernist novel. Toomey noted in his letter

that the monument to Flann had since disappeared.

In 2006, a four-man expedition set out to find any of the monument’s remains, possibly scattered around the mountain top.

Through mist and fog, no evidence could be found. A collection of photographs and contextual material about the project was first exhibited in Frankfurt in 2006. On the opening day of the exhibition, a letter was posted to Toomey, describing the attempted recovery. Three weeks later,

on the last day of the exhibition, he replied.

He detailed other responses sent to his letter in the Irish Times. Most notable was an account from Michael Kellett of Raheny who identified himself in a photograph (right) as lifting the bicycle up the Devil's Ladder ascent on 23rd May 1983, assisting a couple from the English Midlands who purchased the bicycle at the base of the mountain in Killorglin for £15. The monument subsequently disappeared from the summit about two months later.

Work continues on finding the remains of the bicycle upon the mountain's steep slopes and identifying individuals who might have further knowledge of this unusual monument. Gallery presentations continue to present various forms of work in progress. Working with JJ Toomey and Michael Kellett, a text was recently produced around the events and incidents of the bicycle's appearance upon the mountain. This has formed the basis of a slide projection piece with voicover, often exhibited with various artefacts, photographs, and contextual material.