It is not always the political or social-critical statement that interests Gallagher. And so she deliberately plays with the apparent abstraction of her paintings. These are the signs, and, above all remy lace front wig, the ability to transform the “signifier” (Ferdinand de Saussure), which the artist examines in many of her paintings. An indicator, or signifier, in order to remain with Saussure conceptuality, that as in “Doll’s Eyes” consists of a circle with an inner black point, we first recognize in a certain context as an eyeball, namely only in the connection with the title of the Factory. We know they are eyes, for we were told. Looking more closely, and seeing the beaded lips, a new association emerges, that of a racist-looking caricature of an African.
Similarly, a collage that arose a decade later: “Pomp-Bang” (2003) belongs to the series “Yellow Paintings”, so named solely because of their common color. First, the artist forms a grid of portraits of African-American women for wigs advertising from the years 1939-1972, which were taken from magazines such as “Ebony”, “Our World” or “Sepia”. After the artist assigns the individual leaves to each other, they are stuck on a canvas and cut out where the wigs are. The resulting scaffolds are then filled, in a laborious and time-consuming work, with a plasticine, which is imitated exactly according to the outlines and finishes of the original hair. The wigs act as a historical indicator of a particular racial affinity. At that time, it was a good thing for African-Americans to wear their hair like white women or to wear them in soft curls. By the use of the plasticine, however, the signifier is interpreted. The mass itself is a changeable fabric and always remains vulnerable and changeable, at the same time it acts like a protective helmet. In this work, too, the formal aspect of the materiality and structure of the painting emerges as well as the direct translation of the signifiers as racist indicators of a particular race.
The exhibition includes the 80 exhibits including “Bird in Hand” (2006) african american hair, Drexciya – the mythical black Atlantis and the novel “Moby Dick” as well as the one-legged dancers Clayton Peg-Leg Bates , The great film installation “Osedax” (in collaboration with Edgar Cleijne, 2010), which investigates the cryptic nature of symbolic systems, which can no longer be deciphered due to age or loss, and “Morphia” (2008/2009), a series Of double-sided paperwork in free-standing metal frames. A chronological suspension has deliberately been abandoned and the visitor can already recognize after a few steps that both themes as well as formal aspects permeate through the entire creative phase of the artist.