Through the art vines I heard about the opening of a new exhibition space on Dawson Street called “eight…” Always enthusiastic to explore a new location to quaff the grape juice I pottered my way across town from Ligvine HQ to Dawson Street. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the minister for the Arts, Mr. J. Deenihan, was there to launch the new space. The presence of such a figure of high standing amongst the art community gave the event a certain air of grandeur. I secured a glass of Marques de Leon from the bar table in the back room and, in preparation for the imminent speeches, proceeded to lash into it.
What can be said of the Marques de Leon, except that it is an innocuous and personality challenged red? This was a new low, dear reader. Never before was I reduced to the consumption of non vintage wine that has no discernible grape variety and that, at a mere 11% volume, leaves so much to be desired. This wine, a staple of the Tesco shelf, is one of the dreariest options imaginable. Evidently the selection of the Marques de Leon must have had an influence on the speech of the minister, who continually stressed the challenging nature of just about everything. He admirably congratulated the gallerist for taking the brave step into the difficult world of showing “challenging stuff” like contemporary art. At personal level I had to agree with the minister, as finding a decent wine at an art opening these days is becoming a challenging task indeed.
He then spoke of the challenges facing us all in these recessionary times: the challenge of selling art in the current climate; the challenge of bringing our cultural productions to international markets; the challenge facing young emerging artists; and above all the challenge facing the public confronted by the young artists’ creations. An image grew in my mind of the humble snail trying to make its way in the world. How brave it is to be an emerging artist, I thought to myself, like a snail emerging from its shell, dragging its cumbersome load up the the pebble dash wall of the art market. The snail who bears upon his back the material weight of its very home. In a similar way the artworks, as the title of the show informs us, are all related through the recycling and transformation of the discarded construction materials that have become the common flotsam and jetsam washed up on the shores of the nations financial collapse. It is understandable why these construction materials have become the obsession of many artists in our beleaguered nation as they absorb this detritus of house construction into their creative processes.
However, I was more immediately concerned with the challenge of trying to absorb the Marques de Leon without making wincing and painful facial expressions while the Minister was speaking. As my attention drifted from the speech, I began to cast an eye around the room. Looking around the new space curated by Jennie Taylor I noticed that each of the artists works was given space to breathe in the graceful, and uncluttered, Georgian room. The “eight…” space has a laudable focus and interest in emerging Artists and as a result I felt perhaps it was an apt choice to fuel the opening with the Marques de Leon. This is a multi-grape, young wine, meant to be consumed within a short time frame, in fact almost immediately after emerging from the winery. Also notable was a curious form of symmetry in that the wine, like the art, involves a process of using the leftovers from another process.
However, as I sloshed in another dull mouthful and felt myself sinking under the weight of the challenge of finding a good wine at an art opening, coupled with the never ending list of challenges that the minister kept reminding us of, I thought of Nietzsche, who I think it was who said, “We have art in order not to be sunk to the depths by truth.” One would hope that through the clear and well appointed presentation of the artworks of Garret Beatty, Bernie Colhoun and Ann Marie Webb, Jennie Taylor’s curation can help us to find Nietzsche’s escape from the depths of truth, because the Marques de Leon certainly wasn’t doing anything of the sort. I mulled it over in my mind and as I sucked on the grey tasting liquid, and I returned to my earlier thought: “how brave it is to be an emerging artist, like a snail emerging from its shell.”
(Re)Structure is a group show curated by Jennie Taylor. It features works by Garret Beatty, Bernie Colhoun and Ann Marie Webb, and will run in “eight..”, 28 Dawson Street from April the 13th to April 28th, 2012.