The International Curators Residencies programme at Fire Station provides opportunities for international curators to familiarise themselves with the Irish visual art scene, undertake research and make connections that will evolve into the future. My residency at Fire Station is taking place in November 2018.
In this blog / archive I will be recounting my itinerary in Dublin, and leave a trace of the artists I will be encountering on the way.
© Carolina Lio 2018
Alan James Burns
Paddy Bloomer @ Douglas Hyde Gallery
Laura Ni Fhlaibhin @ Tulca Festival
Ann Maria Healy @ Pallas Project
Marcel Vidal @ Royal Hibernian Academy
Tamsin Snow @ Temple Bar Gallery + Studios
Alison Pilkington @ Temple Bar Gallery + Studios
Alan James Burns
Entirely hollow aside from the dark (2016-17)
A psycho-acoustic sound performance within caves. Visitors are guided through a dark cave at nighttime guided by sounds and voices which gradually transforms the cave into a journey through the unconscious mind.
Ever more, Alan James Burns wants to explore the potential of the sound and of the spoken words to create physical and mental spaces where getting lost in the stream of human thoughts. Interested in neurological processes and immersive physical environments, Burns creates multi-sensorial works in which the natural/architectural contexts becomes a sounding board for inner dialogue.
Virtual Reality Kayak (2016-17)
Virtual Reality Kayak transforms discarded election posters into a working kayak, inverted and suspended as a sculptural installation in the gallery. Contained within the kayak is a video display showing footage of the vessel being successfully launched by Bloomer on a lake in Fermanagh.
shown at Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (19 Sept - 17 Nov 2018)
Portrait of a Stone (2018)
‘Portrait of a Stone’ is an experimental, narrative piece that follows two characters: a stone (or actually a group of stones) and the artist's father. Both largely silent, stones and man narrate the piece from two opposite contexts: the stones are in an office setting and accompanied by a corporate and instructional style of language mixed up with the art system gergo; while the artist's father is portrayed in her family farm, where voice and texts follow a more casual, conversational and "human" - subtly caring - tone.
Their being complementary is expressed by the division of the two-channel video piece: on the left-hand screen, the static non-movement of the stones, informed only by a rigid and automatic voice; whilst the right-hand screen follows the movements of the artist's father, moving erratically through the windy ever-changing landscape.
Together with the Irish farms where the artist has grown up, anthropomorphic stones are often the main characters in Laura Fitzgerald's work and have become a sort of alter-ego of the artist herself. Struggling in paradoxical and ironic micro-stories, the stones represent fears and anxieties, comment our political context or - as in this work - point to the unnatural processes of many art system related values, contingencies, and definitions.
This Attentive Place (2014)
Kilfeather reset the scale of the places where she works to her own projects, creating new spaces in between public and private, where there is often a tension between the essential components of sculpture and other plastic languages: soft and hard, micro and macro, full and empty.
In This Attentive Place, the over-public space of Temple Bar Gallery in summer, core of the Dublin night-life and massive tourism attraction, besides cultural hub of the city, is occupied and transformed by elements that looks homely, wintery and intimate. And indeed we find a fireplace in concrete. The fireplace is dressed in black fabric, putting in the viewer an ambiguous feeling of being looking at something severe and comfortable at the same time. Getting closer to it, it become more apparent that it's not a solid object as it would seem at a first glance, but a compound of four concrete slabs seemingly - yet unlikely - kept together by a brass strip.
images from other works / projects:
Ann Maria Healy
When Dealers Are Shamans (2018)
Healy sees parallels between a peacock’s hypnotic movements and those akin to the dream states induced by Zopiclone, a hypnotic agent or sleeping pill which is often sold illegally amidst Dublin North Inner City.
shown at Pallas Projects, Dublin (08 - 17 Nov 2018)
Super Critical Liquid (2016)
Sibyl Montague's work often takes shapes from the external object towards which human have an innate gut feeling: food and drinks. Seen in the opposition delicious/disgusting and - especially in the case of drinks - potentially addictive, these ready-made objective have an ancestral power to awake desire or repulsion, pleasure or guilt.
Bottles are especially present in Montague’s visual dictionary as an autobiographical reference. In fact, her great-uncle ran a speakeasy in New York in the 1920s, where her grandfather worked and drank until its closure during prohibition. Montague’s father and his sibilings were sent home to Ireland to be fostered by the rest of the family. Contrarily to what this story suggests though, her bottles contains soft drinks, such as energy drinks, chemical ambiguous cocktails representing not only a physical addiction, but also a broader society anxiety and obsession for productivity.
Interestingly, while Montague links the maximisation of the attention and productivity given by the energy drinks to a sort of waste, an excessive bulimic consumption of goods from the capitalistic society, she has develop an aesthetic essentiality also through some workshop she led with former drugs addicted on probation. Given some raw, generically materials, in the course of these workshop they were given freedom to elaborate objects. Montague observes that, because of the environment of constant violence and defence, they were naturally led to build up weapons. Nonetheless, their skills was also informed by the scarsity of materials that the daily life in prison presents and were then more capable than the average of make the most of each simple element, developping their intrinsic potentiality and full use.
The Department of Time Keepers (2017 - ongoing)
Produced as part of Common Ground’s Citizen Artist awards, Fiona Reilly's project is developed in the St Andrew’s Community Centre with the participation of locals people from Rialto, a suburb of Dublin with long connections to industry and one of the areas in Dublin most affected by low-level crimes and anti-social behaviour.
In this context, she founded The Department of Time Keepers in which she transform her studio within the community centre in a public office where to discuss the usage and value of time, especially in relationship with paid/unpaid labour and ownership of one's own time. Taking inspiration from her real experience as precarious, casual worker, unemployed and artist, she re-elaborate official forms and documents imitating real bureaucratic procedures and asks the collaboration of local people to develop through these and other tools a discussion about our anxiety towards productivity, society expectations, success and economic stability.
The datas are elaborated and transposed in intentionally inefficient way, e.g. hand-sewn charts, and displayed randomly in the 'department', open to the public at irregular hours.
Our Kind (2016)
Our Kind is a is counterfactual film that magines a future for Roger Casement had he not been executed in 1916. This film is set twenty-five years later in 1941, where Casement is in exile in Norway with his former manservant and now partner Adler Christensen. They are visited by Alice Stopford Green, a close friend and supporter of Casement.
Our Kind gets its title from the iconic speech Casement made on his conviction, and extracts of this speech are used in the film, giving the words new meaning.
Tree is a 30 foot oak tree suspended by its roots to hang down the central void of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios. It hangs from the red beam on the top floor, passing the three oval voids, until its uppermost branches arrive below to hover in mid-air and rotate at a slow and even pace above the foyer on the ground floor.
Since prehistory humans have attempted to control nature and bend it to our own convenience. If in the past it was mainly tried through hopeless rituals and superstitions though, in contemporary society human can truly influence nature through science. For example, through genomics and bioinformatics is possible to develop breeding strategies with the objective of achieving more physically healthy and commercially productive animals. The genes are studied through informatic models that represent their structure and behaviour transposed in a large scale and is a further transposition of this which Maria McKinney elaborated in objects obtained from semen straws used in the artificial insemination process to store bulls' semen. The straws are sewed together to resemble gene systems, but by using a pre-Christian craft of reaping and sewing the harvest in little female dolls symbol of fertility, both of the land and the living creatures that feed off it.
The models so obtained by McKinney are then places on the back of bulls to give rise to 9 photographs consider the newly proposed breeding objectives to achieve the cow of the future: 1) produce a large quantity of high value output (i.e., milk and meat), 2) good reproductive performance, 3) good health status, 4) good longevity, 5) does not eat a large quantity of food, 6) easy to manage (i.e., easy calving, docile), 7) good conformation (over and above reflective of health, reproductive performance and longevity), 8) low environmental footprint, and 9) resilient to external perturbations.
The work is then a reflection on human manipulation of nature, ethical dilemmas in the use of science and technology, but also of the perpetual strive towards maximised productivity.
Aesthetics of Disappearance (2016)
The work starts as a response to the small city of Sint Niklaas, in Belgium, where is held the triennial Coup de Ville. Leahy works was exhibited in a building called Landhuis, which once served as the offices for city council officials, the window of which looks directly onto to the main city square.
Looking at archival pictured of the same square, Leahy found that some time in the past the had been a kiosk, that has then been dismantled, stored for a number of years and, eventually, re-assembled in another part of the city. Leahy decided then to somehow restitute to the kiosk her initial placement and creates black on black prints which, once pinned to the wall one next to the other trace a fading, pale and ghostly shape of the kiosk. The piece is large and dark enough not to allow the visitors to ever be in a favourable position to glance at the whole work at once,emphasising the presence/abscence of the object, its lingering/vanishing in the collective memory.
The video is a montage composed largely of stock footage and juxtaposes existing free and bought architectural models with imagined and built virtual environments. The animation looks at the material structure of digital video and the technological possibilities of new media.
shown at Temple Bar Gallery,, Dublin (28 Sep - 17 Nov 2018)
Aesthetics of Disappearance (2016)
Inspired by readings on theoretical understandings of clinical melancholia, which portray the sufferer in a permanent search for ‘an object-loss which is withdrawn from consciousness’, Huska’s work intertwines narrative repetitions with images of a fragmented architectural space to suggest connections between the self, history and the city. His most recent work combines photographic prints with pieces of creative writings, as ways to apprehend the built environment in and around the city centre of Belfast, intuitively and libidinally, and deal with intrinsic questions of time and duration.