Archived entries for

2nd Art in the Contemporary World podcast: Willie Doherty in conversation with Declan Long

This is an edited version of the conversation that took place prior to the opening of Willie Doherty’s exhibition ‘Remains’ at Kerlin Gallery on 16th January 2014. The exhibition runs until 15th March.

The talk was the latest in an ongoing series of events organised collaboratively between Kerlin Gallery and MA Art in the Contemporary World at NCAD, Dublin.

Unit 1

Unit 1
Broadstone Studios 22 Harcourt Terrace Dublin 2
Saturday 1st March from 7pm

A series of live, sound-based, multi-media works by Alex Conway, Mick O’Shea & James McCann.

Unit 1 is an artist-led platform that supports artists interested in making live performance and provides opportunities for audiences to experience new live performance. Unit 1 is co-curated by Dominic Thorpe & Ciara McKeon.This exhibition is supported by DCC and an Arts Council Project Award.

Broadstone Invited Artists is a project developed as an extension of the studios, to invite artists whose practice spans both artistic and curatorial practice. Initiated in 2013, the program will throughout 2014 bring individual artists and groups to Broadstone Studios to work within its unique 1870′s dining room / project space.
Unit 1


Alison Pilkington | Pallas Projects
115–117 The Coombe Dublin 8

28th February – 8th March 2014
12-6pm Tuesday to Saturday
Opening reception: Friday 28th February 6pm – 8pm

Alison Pilkington’s new show at Pallas Projects is a presentation of her practice based PhD research in painting at National College Art & Design Dublin entitled Unfamiliar Terrain” – An Investigation into the Uncanny in Painting.

“The uncanny, which is associated with a feeling of disorientation, mild panic or confusion when faced with something strangely familiar has been a frequent subject of the visual arts and literature. In this body of work I am interested in what Freud termed “the friendly aspect” of the uncanny. Strangely familiar yet comic images have the potential to disturb or disorientate. In this show titled Malevolentos I attempt to explore this aspect of the uncanny and invite the viewer to consider how this ‘un-homely’ feeling occurs through painting. Malevolentos is my own hybrid term that refers to a mis-heard phrase, a half- remembered image of something familiar yet also unfamiliar, the comic bordering on the sinister.”
Alison Pilkington 2014.

Alison Pilkington was recently awarded 3rd prize at the Artslant international award for emerging artists 2013 and showed her work at Aqua Art Fair Miami in Dec 2013. In 2012 she won a British Institution award for painting at the Royal Academy Summer Show, London 2012. She was shortlisted for the Marmite Painting Prize & exhibition, which toured the UK from December 2012 to June 2013. She was also shortlisted for the Beers Lambert Contemporary/ Phaidon publication 100 painters of Tomorrow.

Contemporary Craft: Curating, Collecting, Critical Writing | Saturday 1st March 2014

See link for details!

contemporary craft conference programme March1st[1]

Patrick Scott and the White Stag Group

Critical response | Roisin Kennedy
Thursday 27 February
6.00pm – 7.00pm
Lecture Room IMMA

Roisin Kennedy (lecturer in art history, UCD) explores Scott’s affiliation with the White Stag Group, a group of war émigrés who relocated to Ireland and spearheaded international contacts for Irish artists such as Herbert Read, Britain’s most prominent modern art critic of the time.

Kennedy’s talk will situate the magnitude of the groups importance within the socially, political and cultural contexts of 1940’s Ireland, addressing how their avant-garde motivations paved the way for a new generation of artists.

Book here

Patrick Scott: Image Space Light is currently showing at the Garden Galleries, IMMA, 16 February – 18 May and VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow, 16 February – 11 May

Temple Bar Gallery & Studios Programme Launch

This Wednesday TBG&S will host the launch of its new artistic programme for 2014/15

Programme Launch 2014/15
Wednesday 26 February
5 -7pm, top floor atrium
Temple Bar Gallery & Studios
5-9 Temple Bar Dublin 2
Pizza, Beer, Tunes


Cowtown is back for the second year. One day in Stoneybatter, organised by the Joinery. Art, books, music, banter. In the batter. Come for the opening at the Joinery at 1.30pm and stay in Stoneybatter for the day.

Tune in to 108.8fm while you are on your on your travels!

More info

Kevin Mooney in conversation with Declan Long

Declan Long, co-director of Art in the Contemporary World will be in conversation with visual artist Kevin Mooney.

Talbot Gallery and Studios, 51 Talbot Street Dublin 1
2pm 22nd February 2014

Dog Island Tales is currently on show at the Talbot Gallery and runs until Thursday 27th of February.

The language of Kevin Mooney’s paintings is rooted in a territory somewhere between history, folklore and a fantastical imagined world. Motifs from Irish visual culture compete on the canvas with decorative and abstract elements to create a compelling backdrop which suggests the possibilities of cultural cross pollination.For his exhibition, Dog Island Tale, Mooney has submerged himself further in this world. He treats the canvas as an anarchic arena where islands, heads, ships, wicker figures and pipe smoking seanchai are played against polka dots, masks, and abstract shapes to fight out their ambiguous narratives.

IMAGE: Arcs, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm, Kevin Mooney, 2013

Painting in Parenthesis (In Brackets!): Where does the medium end and the idea begin?

Damien Flood and James Merrigan in discussion on the occasion of Flood’s solo exhibition ‘Interior Sun’ at Green on Red Gallery, Dublin, 19 February, 2014, 7pm.

“Since painting is realised today within the horizon of conceptual practice, it must be grounded in a context that is no longer its own. That means, on the one hand, that an appeal to the specifics of the medium as its sole justification is no longer possible. Painting can no longer just be painting.“ (Jan Verwoert)

Since the 1960s, the conceptual justification for painting practice has forced many would-be painters to discard their painting brushes altogether for another medium or even career. Before Conceptualism and Rosalind Krauss’ heralding of the “post-medium condition”, painting was happy just being painting; with historical and metaphysical self-justification. Then, following Clement Greenberg – when art was art and everything else was everything else – art began its vanity project of self-reflection. The What? and Why? of art was posited. Painting was speechless in the interrogation lights of this conceptual, contextual and academic turn.

The title and starting point for this discussion between Damien Flood and James Merrigan was suggested by a recent painting by Flood entitled In Brackets (pictured above), which acts as the initial blank signpost for the discussion around the artist’s third solo exhibition ‘Interior Sun’ at Green on Red Gallery, Dublin. As always, Flood’s painting titles give away some of the ghost of meaning. However, In Brackets, the ‘conceptual’ is explicitly gestured by Flood, suggesting an intentional collision between the medium of paint and its conceptual unwinding, or rewinding. In the work, the literally painted-on round brackets amid the hyphen dabs of paint, suggest words, or imply that words are unnecessary. At this medium/concept impasse the justification for painting is questioned: Where does the medium end and the idea begin?

IMAGE: Damien Flood, In Brackets (2013), Oil on half oil ground, 70 x 60 cm

of clouds and strings

Ulrich Vogl
20th February – 22nd March 2014
Kevin Kavanagh Gallery Chancery Ln Dublin 8
Opening: 20th February at 6pm

Ulrich Vogl’s most recent body of work focuses on sculptures that are – either in themselves or in their projection – films. Like in previous works Vogl uses movement, light and shadow to capture a suspension of reality and space.

Among the sculptures in of clouds and strings is the Wolkenfilmmaschine (2013) where Vogl combines the early film techniques of the carousel with a moving mobile inside a rotating ball. Film (2012/2014) works with a turning wheel made from wire and its projection references the essence of early black and white movies. Both works are examples of Vogl’s approach; time-based, playful, simple in their creation. In their simplicity they create their own magic – thus giving space to the viewer’s own association, the viewer’s own film.

Francis Halsall’s Second Lecture: Systems Aesthetics

Critical Studies Lecture 2

Systems Aesthetics

In Search of the Truth: Afghanistan

A Cause Collective project
Ryan Alexiev | Jim Ricks |Hank Willis Thomas
10th – 23rd February | Opening: 13th February at 6pm
The Library Project, 4 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland

The Library Project presents In Search of the Truth: Afghanistan, an exhibition of photographs and videos documenting an international public art project.

The exhibition is the first of the events programmed at The Library Project in 2014, aptly engaging with the PhotoIreland Festival 2014 theme: Truths, Facts, Fictions, Lies.
More info about the festival at

What do ordinary Afghans think about life, about their country, about their society? And what about the things that are most important to them? What do Afghans think about… the Truth?
The Truth Booth, a giant inflatable speech bubble and portable video recording booth, toured Afghanistan collecting over 600 greatly diverse video portraits of the Afghan people. This is a Cause Collective project supported by Free Press Unlimited, and in cooperation with the Afghan 1TV. It has travelled to more than 10 locations in Bamyan, Mazar-i-Sharif, Harat, and Kabul for 3 weeks during August and September.

In the past ten years, countless people have paraded their opinions about the state of Afghanistan – presidents, politicians, journalists, generals, aid workers and advisers, experts who know all about the country and those who know very little. In the cacophony of views and opinions expressed about the country, the voices of ordinary Afghan citizens themselves have been relatively absent. In Search of the Truth: Afghanistan is a unique project that invited the public in Afghanistan to speak their minds and hearts, and to fill a giant text balloon with their voices through a video camera. “The Truth is…”

The centrepiece of the project is the Truth Booth, an installation consisting of a giant inflatable “balloon” shaped like a speech bubble with the word TRUTH (“Haqeqat” in the Dari) printed on the side. The interior of the Truth Booth acts much like a photo booth, but with a video camera. Seated inside, visitors have recorded their thoughts and opinions in a two-minute video in response to the statement: “The truth is…”

The Truth Booth has captured video portraits and views from around Afghanistan. The 600+ responses are being subtitled and edited into a video artwork. Samples can be seen on The Truth Booth’s blog:

Additionally a selection of videos will be broadcast nationally on the Afghan 1TV, enabling Afghans to hear what concerns their fellow Afghans around the country.

Jim Ricks
The Library Project

Francis Halsall’s lecture: Object Oriented Aesthetics and the Re-Materialization of the Art Object is now available

Critical Studies Lecture 1
Object Oriented Aesthetics and the Re-Materialization of the Art Object

Systems Aesthetics

Francis Halsall, co-director of MA Art in the Contemporary World will give his second lecture at the Cranbrook Art Museum, Michigan, USA.

Tuesday | February 11 | 6pm
Francis Halsall

Spring 2013 Critical Studies Fellow
Systems Aesthetics
Sponsored by the Critical Studies and Humanities Program

Francis Halsall’s research practice is situated across three main areas, the history, theory and practice of modern and contemporary art, philosophical aesthetics, and Systems-Thinking. He has published widely in both academic and more informal styles and catalogue essays, as well as participated in numerous public talks and discussions in all three areas. Francis Halsall is currently completing a short book called “Systems Aesthetics” and a major research project and book on Niklas Luhmann’s aesthetics.

Watch Systems Aesthetics lecture here

Leonora Carrington: The Celtic Surrealist

ACW student Lynda Phelan provides an insightful response to Leonora Carrington’s recent exhbition at IMMA. This review is also available via the Shower of Kunst website (

What a fantastical world we expose when we penetrate the depth of our unconscious and concurrently the zenith of our imagination. Can any of us say for certain which is felt to be more consistent with that of ‘the real’: the structures of the conscious mind, or “…the unconscious and its – for the most part unintelligible – order”(2) ? According to Carl Jung, the unconscious acts as “the symmetrical counterpart of the conscious mind and its contents, although it is not clear which of them is reflected and which is reflecting… we could regard the centre as the point of intersection of two worlds that correspond but are inverted by reflection.”(3)

Who’s to say? If there exists such thought to question, then maybe? For, as Meillassoux asserts, “the capacity of thought cannot be richer than the capacity of reality… If we can imagine so many things, this must be just the shadow of reality.”(4) Perhaps what the conscious mind perceives is in fact a mere reflection of the unconscious world and its contents? Perhaps, as self-professed rational creatures, imagination exists for this very reason? “We are rational and have imagination. Why? Because in fact they’re the same thing.”(5)

Returning now to the stuff you can touch (save for the art)… The Garden Galleries, adjacent the formal gardens of the now Irish Museum of Modern Art, has on display the work of an artist who has captured our dreams (reality?) for us to see, and see we do: the extra-ordinary, or should I say, the supra-ordinate.

The story propelling this ‘once was lost and now is found’ artist by the name of Leonora Carrington, is one of passion for the imaginatio above all else. Her future was set – in stone, so to speak. Her affluent upbringing in Lancashire meant expectancies bound up in marriage, property, and her own formal gardens. Leonora Carrington decided upon a world of her own making, fit to her design. Parental dissention found her in Paris in the company of the Surrealists, and it was here that she made for herself a new beginning, one in which she was free to explore that ‘other’ and experience her imagination as alive and well. Mexico called for her as World War II encroached, and it is here where she remained until her death in 2011. Carrington spent her life in Mexico painting, and studying such texts as the Kabala, the ancient texts of the Mayans (Popol Vuh) and the writings of Carl Jung on alchemy.

Her roots taste of ‘Celtic’ blood, on her Mother’s side. As a child, Leonora would visit her Irish Grandmother, an important symbolic figure who provided her with an inheritance of Irish Mythology. Her trunk, as it were, was later reinforced by the ideology of the Surrealists. For, Leonora was at this point branching out as an artist in her own right. And in Mexico – the most surreal place in the world, according to André Breton, her branches sprang many leaves depicting what Lévy-Bruhl termed the représentations collectives.

For the most part, Carrington’s work remained relatively unknown on this side of the world; whereas now it is felt to be found as though once lost. The vast array of her paintings, tapestries and some of her sculptures occupy every space available in the Garden Galleries. But rather than a walk-through in chronological order, the curator, Seán Kissane, has arranged the work with a thematic structure in mind, relocating Carrington’s work outside of the ordinary formal language of art.

We could of course discuss the work using terms like representational, formalist, iconological, even iconoclastic, but in Carrington’s own words: “you’re trying to intellectualise something, desperately, and you’re wasting your time…that’s not a way of understanding.”(6) Carrington is pointing to, what Jacques Lacan also felt, that “the important thing is not to understand but to attain the true.”(7) Understanding and Truth; both function by way of a parallax gap. Parallax refers to the shift that occurs in the position or direction of an object when viewed from different positions, the object itself being the cause of the gap whereby there feels to be a continual confrontation between “two closely linked perspectives between which no neutral common ground is possible.”(8) Slavoj Žižek also states that this “gap is asserted as inherent to humanity itself…”(9) This natural psychological setting is certainly fertile ground from which to experience The Celtic Surrealist, and to be transported into a metaphorical world of mythological themes and alchemical symbolism.

Carrington’s artistic rendering of her childhood home, Crookley Hall (1947), haunts Room 1. But there is, however, an alternative that offers more direct access to her childhood by way of openly displayed copybooks, albeit behind glass. Our lead in to the story of Leonora Carrington as artist takes the form of strangely assembled creatures that live on the planet Starvinski. The presence of these copybook drawings are a gentle curatorial push in the right direction… imaginatio above all else.

The painting chosen by the curator to promote the exhibition is incidentally the painting which holds the Carrington auction record at Christie’s, New York, fetching $1,482,500. The Giantess (1947), sometimes known as The Guardian of the Egg, is a fine painting, delicate in its address of the Great Mother archetype who is re-called to mind by Carrington’s repeated touch of tempera on a wooden panel. She stands tall, negotiating land, sea and sky; all the while, birds, proportionate to the Giantess, swoop but the egg is kept safe between hands. The egg as symbol simultaneously holds the key to life and non-life, and in alchemical terms, the egg functions philosophically as a sealed vessel in which the magnum opus takes place, uniting both the microcosm and the macrocosm.

The Irish connection is tenuous to say the least but it is there. However, as a title, The Celtic Surrealist is a clear museological marketing ploy, attempting to draw in more Irish viewers by drawing upon the ‘lack’ in our national psyche. Room 3 is also thematically experienced as a slight connection to Carrington’s interest in hunting. Nevertheless, it is here where we find a tangible relationship to Carrington’s Irish ancestry. In her painting Red Steeds of the Sidhe (1996), the artist highlights an Irish folktale.

The story goes that King Conaire, while out riding, noticed up ahead three men of the Sidhe, also known as the Tuatha De Danann. The king then sends his son to follow the men who were now riding away on red horses. There was a message for the King from the Sidhe: “Though we are alive we are dead. Great are the signs: destruction of life; sating of ravens; feeding of crows, strife of slaughter; wetting of sword-edge, shields with broken bosses in hours after sundown.”(10) Red Steeds of the Sidhe is a painting which illustrates this warning as fact, and I believe it to be very telling of our modern mess that these words have found their way back to us from the fairy-folk. Leonora Carrington made her choice of sword from which to plunge it into the ‘now’, and the horses do indeed burn red from within.

As World War II continues, Carrington flees to Spain after the arrest of her lover Max Enrst. The emotional state that ensues leads her to be institutionalised. This particular chapter of Carrington’s life-story was published in 1944 in a book entitled Down Below, and this self-same named room focuses on the work that speaks of where Leonora went when she was down below.

There is an untitled etching in this room that I wish to draw to your attention. One supreme Dog-figure stands round; several smaller dogs have their heads tied in place within the overall structure, they are also seen to function as vital body-parts for the one ‘Dog’. Consider the purpose of places such as that asylum in Santander. Now, consider the real purpose. In her etching, Carrington takes on the truth of things. Like the wolf all those generations ago, man has been bred for ‘friendship’ in order to preserve order and ultimately the existence of such a framework. Illusion and the resultant delusion attempts to fill the gap inherent in humanity, and should this not work: lock us all up for real?

The Celtic Surrealist is an exhibition that animates the uncanny. Carrington’s delicate disclosure of ‘the real’, the lack that exists between our waking and dream state, is seen again and again through her decisive use of tempera and her evolved relationship to it. The inclusion of her tapestries in particular fall short due to the lack of feeling and material depth when compared with the paintings. And her sculptures function as well-needed interruptions in the physical space while on the meta-physical journey.

Carrington’s work is an attempt to bridge the gap that exists inherently in all things. What her work actually does is facilitate that which is calling to be recalled. I would like to end with a tale: A slave boy found himself being asked questions by Socrates of a geometric slant. The slave boy subsequently came to the truth of this geometric proposal without any prior knowledge of the issue (Meno, 402BC). In this way, Socrates demonstrated the possibility of a prior knowledge existent before consciousness and that in some way learning is in fact mere recollection. Let us remember that which we don’t know. Let us dream.

Images courtesy IMMA.

(1) Leonora Carrington, The House of Fear: Notes from Down Below, E.P. Dutton, 1988, p. 163.
(2) Carl G. Jung. Psychology and Alchemy. Routledge, London, 1963, p.171
(3) Ibid, p.171
(4) Quentin Meillassoux. Interview, 22/07/2010,, DOCUMENTS UF13, p.3
(5) Ibid, p.4
(6) Leonora Carrington. Interview:
(7) Jacques Lacan. Le Séminare III. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1981, p. 58(8) Slavoj Zizek. A Parallax Gap. MIT Press, Cambridge, London, 2009, p. 4
(9) Ibid, p.5
(10) W.Y.Evans-Wentz. The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. Henry Froude, London, 1911, p. 290

Queer Pagan Punk: Derek Jarman part one: Jarman and the Occult

alt=”" title=”T.G- Psychic Rally in Heaven” width=”688″ height=”512″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-4569″ />Friend of ACW, Darius Lerup is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge where he researches, broadly, the relationship between philosophy–particularly Georges Bataille and Julia Kristeva–and film.

Derek Jarman began his career in the 1970s by making experimental shorts on Super 8 film, as well as working as a set designer, most notably on Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972). By the 1980s, he numbered among a group of queer British experimental film artists (including the likes of John Maybury) that were closely connected to seminal post-punk musical groups like Throbbing Gristle, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Deeply influenced by DIY punk ethos, this scene scorned commercial filmmaking conventions in lieu of transgressive and a self-proclaimed “amateur” approach (see Maybury’s manifesto published in ZG magazine). Although Jarman eventually went on to direct “overground” productions like the eponymous biopic of Michelangelo Caravaggio, it goes without saying that his early works left a permanent mark on his approach to film. In turn, this is precisely what makes the BFI’s “Queer Pagan Punk”—the largest season of Jarman’s work ever mounted in the UK—essential viewing in order to better understand the role and influence of 80s British experimental film in the modern context. “Queer Pagan Punk” presents an extremely important chronicle in the development of underground experimental film in Britain as well as its ultimate diffusion into the “overground” in the forms of both music videos and motion pictures.

When viewing Jarman’s 1981 collaboration with Throbbing Gristle, entitled T.G: Psychic Rally in Heaven, the viewer is confronted with blurred corporeal textures punctuated by metronomic cuts to black that make the film both pulsate organically and stutter mechanically. Immediately, it becomes clear that one must seek out the identifiable forms that are lost in a sea of textures. Every so often, faces emerge or what can vaguely be identified as landscapes. How might one begin to understand these shifting vistas, at once dark and rich, organic and mechanical, churning to the amorphous sounds of one of Britain’s most influential experimental music outfits? In the essay ‘Ellipse sur la frayeur et la séduction spéculaire’, Julia Kristeva proposes that cinematographic specularity is a force working against the visually identifiable. Manifesting through excesses of color, somatic waves, and spatial rhythms (which she calls lektonic traces), cinematographic specularity is composed of all the visual elements that exceed what is necessitated by the process of identification, which is to say the transformation of image into sign. In this way, the specular is presented to the viewing subject as always overwhelming, exceeding signification, and meaning. For Kristeva, by exceeding signification, the cinema works first and foremost to denude desire in the realm of the visual. It seems to me that T.G: Psychic Rally in Heaven, plays along these lines, vaguely recalling the surrealist André Breton’s magique circonstancielle, a category of convulsive beauty in which the viewer’s desire is laid bare. And as I search of recognizable forms within Jarman’s film, I cannot help but reflect on my own desire as viewer, wanting at once more and less than what is given. Although, Psychic Rally… is only one tiny fragment of Jarman’s oeuvre, but needless to say, it already suggests that “Queer Pagan Punk” will be of great interest.

Anticipating Performance: A Curatorial Question

Friday | February 7th 2014
Registration from 9.30 | R.H.A. Dublin

Booking is essential, places are limited:

Tickets are €10, including lunch and refreshments catered by Jennie Moran.

Anticipating Performance: A Curatorial Question is a one-day symposium on curating live performance art bringing together speakers from Ireland and the U.K.. The day will draw on their vast experience in the field of live performance curation in myriad contexts to consider what is necessary and what is possible for successful performance art exhibitions and events. Speakers include Capucine Perrot (TATE Modern, London), Peter Richards (Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast),Maeve Mulrennan (Galway Arts Centre), Brian Connolly (artist, U.U. & Bbeyond, Belfast) and a series of short presentations on independently run initiatives and events.

Anticipating Performance: A Curatorial Question is aimed both at those with experience of curating performance art as well as those who have an interest in doing so for the first time. The symposium aims to support the further growth and appreciation of performance from the visual arts in Ireland. The day hosts presentations by eminent curators and artists, lively debate and discussion. There will be an opportunity to meet the speakers and others who work in performance and curation in Ireland and internationally.

Anticipating Performance: A Curatorial Question is produced by artists/curators Ciara McKeon, Dominic Thorpe and Michelle Browne for Unit 1 and is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. For more information contact

Unit 1

An Active Encounter

Tamas St Turba, Ruth Clinton, Niamh Moriarty, Colm Clarke, Michael O’Halloran – curated by
Ciara Hickey. 06 February – 01 March 2014

An Active Encounter is a project being undertaken by both current and past ACW students in Belfast. Please follow the link for the Program which include a number of talks on events running from the 6th of February until the 1st of March as well as artist biographies.

Opening: Thursday, 06 February, 6-9pm.
Talk with Tamas St Turba: 06 February, 6pm.
For an extensive programme of other events see programme below.
Opening hours: Wed-Fri 1-5pm, Sat 11am-3pm.
This project will investigate one single piece of artwork ‘Czechoslovakia Radio 1968’ by Tamas St Turba.
The work consists of a red building brick with chalk markings drawn onto the sides denoting the dials of a radio. When Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Soviet army in 1968, people resisted through creative means. After people were forbidden to listen to radio broadcasts, they started attaching antennas to bricks as a sign of protest. These fake radios spread among the population who pretended to listen to them, and although they were useless as a communication device, they were continuously confiscated by the Russian Army.

At PS², the presence of the object during the exhibition will pose a starting point for a series of questions and responses. In this project it becomes a radio, it becomes a mediator, a narrator, a conjurer, it recognises a moment of conceptual art in history, it becomes a symbol of the avant garde, of political resistance, of universal activism, of the physical environment.

Essays for the House of Memory

Essays for the House of Memory
Curated by Haizea Barcenilla

John Busher | Susan Connolly | Noelle Gallagher | Amanda Jane Graham | Ali Kirby | Anne-Marie McKee | Sinéad O’Connell | Molly O’Dwyer | Nuala O’Sullivan | Paul Tarpey | Dawn West

7 February – 1 March 2014

In the words of Haizea Barcenilla:

When I first read a summary of A room with a view I was disappointed. I had heard the name of the book and my mind had traveled to different settings, most of them implying interior spaces and domesticity; the name suggested many stories related to loving and hating a home, being inside but looking outside. It touched upon the places, objects and relations that define us in some way, and tie us to circumstances, histories and groups of people in another. When I discovered that it happened in Italy, a place that would recall no domesticity and no familiarity to me since I mostly linked it to grand narratives, fallen empires and men looking for a big History to attach to, I decided to keep the suggestions alive in me and not to read the book.

I also refused to see some films adapted from great books I had loved. The last one is Anna Karenina. I don’t want my images of the landscapes and the characters to be fixed by a specific frame. Anna Karenina, Lyovin, Kitty, they already have a moving, blurred space in my imagination that I refuse to define. It is true that my memories of the book might not be as specific and colorful as the images of the film; in fact, when I remember things, when suggestions arise in my imagination, they don’t produce a clear and definitive image I could describe. They dance, form and inform, dismantle and disappear, and appear again. As in Egyptian art, they mix with text, they become a curious entity between image and word that is not permanent. I like the sensation of flow they provoke.

It is a long time that History, the big one with a capital H, has been called into question by his supposedly lesser sisters memory, subjectivity and interpretation. These three subjects, with their blurred, changing, contested mist that obscures the clear traces of facts, are vindicating a place in the construction of common narratives. The domestic, the personal, the private, what is felt and remembered, the experience of the body and the self are more present than ever when we try to build models of the past. But what is the form of remembrance? What is the link between the object and its personal relevance? If cannons are shown in Museums of History, what would be shown in a House of Memory, in the place for all that has not been kept or that cannot be formed or written down?

This exhibition presents eleven artists whose works could well be shown in a House of Memory, since they refer to the domestic, the personal, the experiential, starting with Molly O’Dwyer, who gives a form to my feelings for A room with a view. Some works recuperate images or objects with a story and convert them into something else, something in the realm of suggestion, as with Nuala O’Sullivan, Amanda Jane Graham, Paul Tarpey or Ali Kirby. They depart from objects and materials with a history of their own, but they arrive to a space of feeling and imagination, where we reconstruct our own history into theirs. John Busher and Noelle Gallagher play with spaces and memories, offering images of blurred insinuation, where we do not know if things are, were at a time or will be. Dawn West and Sinéad O’Connell use objects and places that could remind us of home and childhood, but convert them into ambivalent constructions which can link differently with the experience of the viewer, provoking closeness or uneasiness. Finally, Susan Connolly and Anne-Marie McKee play with form between meanings and materials, creating incommunicable installations and objects that exist far from a single definition, linking color, form and sensations.

Probably a House of Memory should never exist as a rigid institution. If it ever were to be created, it would make sense to construct it and deconstruct it over time, to let it change constantly and never come to a perfect definition. For the ideal goal of a House of Memory would be to keep us exercising suggestion, intuition, remembrance and interpretation, without giving us fixed answers and frames of action.

The exhibition is kindly supported by the Arts Council Visual Art Project Award, Limerick City Arts Office & Limerick City of Culture.

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