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EVA International, Fringe Events and L.S.A.D Graduate Show, June 2012

June 2, 2012

Project:            EXIT Limerick 2012,  facilitated by Static Gallery Liverpool for EVA International 2012.

Synopsis:         A number of writers were asked to review works in EVA, Fringe Events, and Limerick School of Art and Design Graduate Show.

Publication:     14 June 2012, Limerick Leader

Discussion:      Friday 15 June 2012 at the Visual Artist Ireland Get Together event

Read All Reviews:

Just one hundred words. Condensing the formal and technical elements, a ‘bare-bones’ criticism reveals its inner-workings. Describe. Contextualise. Analyse. Interpret. Strengths, flaws, limitations, become apparent.  The meeting of the dual reviewers and the reviewed. Taste. Opinion. Who has critical authority? Who has ethics? You mean the writers actually got paid?! What if attendance at a comedy show had lifted her mood – would her reviews seem joyous?  The plaintiff conveys mistrust – he refutes the ‘privilege’. The defendant maintains a critical position. Judgement. Deflated, the jury concedes “there is no truth only subjectivity”. If I had more words I could say more…

My Reviews for EXIT Limerick

EVA Reviews

Artists:             Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler

Artwork:         The Bull Laid Bear (2012), HD Video

Venue:             103-104 O’Connell Street

The Bull Laid Bear examines the complexity of the ongoing financial crisis, exposing the economic myths and flawed governmental thinking which continue to prioritise global markets over societal stability.  Pivotal moments in recent Irish history illustrate the zeitgeist of ‘permanent crisis’ which underpins EVA’s curatorial theme.

Animated black & white drawings of depraved and condemned corporate bears in courtrooms, and voice-overs interspersed with American Swing musical interludes, expand the ‘expository narration’ of traditional documentary formats, thus informing audiences who might not normally engage with such impenetrable subject matter, producing a complex and multi-layered critique as an urgent democratic intervention.

Artist:              Barbara Knezevic

Artwork:         Contingency Structure (2012)and Highly Charged Object (2012)

Venue:             103-104 O’Connell Street

Until now I’ve avoided writing about Knezevic’s work. On previous encounters, the minimalist work, laden with a multitude of cognitively cumbersome meanings – human relationships, materiality, artistic agency, suspension of knowledge, perception, emotion, production, and the nature of existence – has left me feeling distanced and ambivalent. On this occasion, I tentatively engaged with Contingency Structure (2012), finding something tangible in the stretched canvas, which resonated with painting and a broader art historical canon. But perhaps it was the work’s interaction with the crumpled red pages of Sanja Iveković’s Shadow Report (1998), scattered on the floor below, that enticed me most.

 Artist:              Doireann Ní Ghrioghair

Artwork:         Ruins (2012)

Venue:             103-104 O’Connell Street

As a sculptural installation, Ruins invokes candid modern-day reflection on ancient Greece, situated in a moment between historical grandeur and contemporary insolvency. Staged on a wasteland, stacks of plaster shapes in lurid colours form makeshift, child-like structures which teeter precariously, alluding to instability in the immediate terrain. Ritualistic undertones echo the unfolding ‘sacrifice’ of Greece – a central power in the founding of modern democratic western culture – to the economic Gods of the European Union.  Also on the periphery of ‘fortress Europe’, Ireland is an appropriate site to construct a monument to faltering democracy, in the knowledge that empires come and go…

Artist:              Emma Houlihan

Artwork:         Arch (2010)

Venue:             LCGA

Pitched as a Nama-related art project, Arch is quite literally the ‘post-bubble rubble’, with its structural components cast in cement and debris from a demolished Leitrim house.

As a monument to the chimera of property wealth which bankrupted the country, Arch suitably consolidates EVA’s curatorial inquiry by providing a vantage point from which to examine the immediate aftermath, rendering ‘the future’ implausible.

The inclusion of the original advertisement alongside the piece (rather than the generic wall-text) would have attested to the work having been activated in the public realm, producing a level of interaction beyond gallery and art object.

Fringe Reviews

Exhibition:      ‘Dogs’ ( May 3rd – 26th, 2012)

Group Exhibition presented by SOMA Projects, Curated by Rachael Corcoran

Artists:            Adrian McGrath, Ben Reilly, Bridget O’Gorman, Cassie Kirby, Christian Jankowski, Isabel Nolan, Magnhild Opdøl, Michael Durand, Rachael Corcoran, TINKEBELL, Vanessa Donoso-Lopez

Venue:             Ormston House, Patrick Street.

I felt apprehensive when I read the press-release. Could such a limiting theme produce anything other than very literal, even amateur, content? As anticipated, it was literal and there were lots of dogs; but also some high quality work that may not otherwise have been shown together, with the more understated works providing the greatest impact.

Magnhild Opdøl demonstrated her capabilities beyond taxidermy drawing with a playful installation. Isabel Nolan and Michael Durand’s photographic prints of centre-framed dogs were simple, even nostalgic. Adrian McGrath’s irate correspondence with Waterford City Council over the contentious issue of dog poo in public places made me laugh.  Bridget O’Gorman’s dual films drew comparisons between theplush habitat of the domestic lap-dog, and feral environmentof the fox. Although visually seductive, I felt equally alienated by both. TINKEBELL’s museum display-case of taxidermist artefacts attested to consumption, societal narcissism and hypocrisy, but as art objects they failed to resonate sufficiently with her provocative campaign, and were judged instead as brash, dated and unoriginal. Christian Jankowski’s  Direktor Pudel was the highlight. Featuring a dog in a magic show, it was theatrical and comical, while the anachronistic use of Super-8 film provided a meditation on popular culture.

Concluding thoughts: ‘DOGS’ – an emancipation from jargon-orientated curating? A jibe at artworld elitism?

‘Walk the Line’

Arno Kramer, Tjibbe Hooghiemstra and John Brown,

Ormston House (1-30 June 2012)

This mutually beneficial collaboration between two Dutch artists and a northern Irish

poet provided an opportunity to revel in some great drawing, in a moment that felt

simultaneously nostalgic while unmistakably contemporary.

The exhibition, composed of mounted drawings as well as site-specific work, attested to

drawing as occupying a frontier space between established forms of knowledge. The

relationship between drawing and poetry – part of the ‘new literacy’ (text and image, verbal

and visual) – posits drawing as a language instinct, linked cognitively to play and the

development of representational thought. The current curatorial revival of drawing offers

a counter-position to multi-media and sculptural environments, whilst re-connecting

with the imaginative flux that drawing can provide.

  LIT Artists – Painting Course Cillian Boyd, PaintingPitched as an experiment with the tradition of the medium, Boyd’s paintings (acrylic on canvas)

have the appearance of chromatic studies, crumpled paper, tinfoil, spray paint, wax art or rainbow

tye-dyed cloth; infact anything other than paint on canvas . Maybe that was the point. Potentially,

these works are in danger of losing the meaning behind their making, and this must be clarified or

made more visible either within the methodology or end product. The small drawings displayed in

a folder in the space conveyed an intimacy and freedom that was not as visible in the paintings.

Megan Collins, Painting

As an exploration of the ‘realities and illusions’ of the artist’s ‘inner and outer wonderlands’,

Collins’ paintings attest to some admirable and honest self-reflection.  Bright, brave and surreal,

the large-scale works in particular show massive potential. More work in the formal and technical

aspects of painting  would further enhance her already exceptional eye for composition. As a

young artist, she might soon find that in shedding ‘Alice’, and even Freud, and moving into more

Frida Kahlo-esque terrain, her personal uniqueness may be further revealed and consolidated.

Please keep painting.

Ramona O Halloran, Painting

As an study of social affiliation observed through the lens of street culture, O’Halloran’s

body of work is exemplary in the formal elements of painting, and cohesive in style. Graphically

striking and competently composed, the paintings deliver a pertinent reflection on group identity,

alluding to tribalism, social mobility and contemporary branding.

The hooded, track-suited figures feature as isolated individuals and also as repetitious images in

group formations, while tender moments portray vulnerability in socially ostracised peripheries.

The strength of this work will be consolidated in the artist’s future choices, regarding subject

matter, display contexts and potential political orientation.

Joan Stack, Painting

This body of work, for me, amounted to a dichotomy between a very strong sense of

experimental materiality and a residual desire to uphold traditional pre-conceptions of painting.

The inventive box installation (which could have boldly existed alone in the space)

conveyed a sense of freedom and intimacy that was lacking in the

paintings, and the ‘serendipity’ title detracted from the impact of the found-objects,

making associations with ‘hobby art’.  The box, the frame, as conceptual vessels, could provide

worthwhile points of departure for a life-time of exploration around the canon of painting, while

a little more focused editing could be transformative.

LIT Artists – Printmaking Course

Imelda Donohoe, Printmaking

Although not particularly familiar with the process of sand animation, I can certainly appreciate

the tremendous amount of work that Donohoe has invested in her film, with every frame having

seemingly been composed individually. Haunting Irish music suitably conveys the melancholy

content of the film, as a tale of isolation, depression and emerging community support unfolds on

the screen.  The artist could be ambitious with the commercial direction of this work, as it strikes

me that it could potentially align well with one of the established or emerging campaigns for

understanding depression or suicide prevention in the current Irish context.

Mike Heffernan, Printmaking

A melodrama-style film and a narrated slide-show each documented scenarios involving

a fictitious Mr Warr, his descent into madness, and his attempts to seek solace.

The slide-show best showcased the artist’s ingenuity and talent in this regard,

demonstrating a cool capacity for literary and symbolic association, executed with

meticulous aesthetic and technical proficiency.

Divided into ‘acts’, with fairy-tale symbolism, the unfolding plot was graphically illustrated with still

compositions.  The work would benefit from a slower-paced, less dense voice-over narration, but

overall this is an innovative and theatrical model of narrative construction that the artist should

definitely pursue and further make his own.

Jacob Stack, Printmaking

Portraying an eye for detail and a technical proficiency in draftsmanship, Stack’s drawings and

small models provided a modest showcase of some intricate work.  Attempts to incorporate

found-objects into the work attest to a potential area for growth, although the display of such

elements could be given more consideration. The subject matter and focus of the work seemed

unresolved, however the divergence between large and small scale worked well, with the larger

drawing still retaining a capacity to draw the viewer in close. Most intriguing was his nonchalant

artist’s statement, which almost conveyed a different persona than was evident in the work itself.



LIT Artists – Sculpture Course

Lotte Bender, Sculpture

Quietly occupying the bottom corner of a square room, the artist’s photographic print was

displayed, featuring a woman sitting in a chair, gesturing with her hands, perhaps as if to shout

(inaudibly) at the viewer.  A pale shadow of the seated figure was cast on the floor below and on

the adjacent wall, but on closer inspection the viewer sees that the shadow has in fact been

painted in a suitable shade of grey. From this ‘drawn in’ perspective, the viewer realises that

sometimes it is the inobtrusive, less ‘monumental’ works have the loudest and most robust

tales to tell.

Declan Casey, Sculpture

The protagonist of Casey’s film-work and performance art is his alter ego Moby Streets.

An unlikely figure in a Magritte-esque black trench coat and bowler hat,  Streets is steadfast

against the elements as he embarks on surreal ‘counter-conduct’, scaling walls and walking up

river, against the flow. His deadpan demeanour exudes comedy and absurdity, yet his relentless

efforts are heart-wrenching, almost tragic in what they reveal about the human condition.

It would be interesting to observe some sort of commentary from this pseudo-businessman given

the current socio-economic crisis, which could anchor Moby Streets more purposefully in the

immediate terrain, like Patrick Ireland before him.

Meadbh Fitzgibbon Moore, Sculpture

This is an exciting time and context for emerging performance artists, with an upsurge in recent

years not only in the art-form, but also in the apparatus surrounding its distribution and critical reception.

I would suggest that emerging practitioners attend the many live performances and symposiums currently

occurring in mainstream institutions and artist led spaces, to familiarise themselves with the opportunities

for real world applications within their field.  Occasionally established performance artists require

assistants or participants for particular projects , and this would be an advantageous opportunity for a

recent graduate.

Fiona Scally, Sculpture

Created as responses to architectural diagrams, these minimalist structural studies are concerned with

reflecting on how man-made space is occupied.  This seems a worthwhile endeavour, given the recent collapse of

the property market, the excess of depreciating vacant property and the devastation caused when homes

become commodities.  However I am placing my own interpretations onto the work in the absence of

anything more definitive to go on. If the formal qualities of minimalist sculpture constitute the desired

outcome then the fabrication needs to be more meticulous and seamless.

Elizabeth Twomey, Sculpture

‘Tea Talk’ is very literally the ‘Visual Tales of Tea’, and how this simple ritual is engrained

within daily Irish life. The most engaging aspect of this work, for me, was not the glossy

close-ups of hands holding tea-cups, or the video of an old kettle boiling on a turf fire, but a small,

unassuming notebook containing a fascinating compilation of primary research. Interviews conducted

in people’s homes over tea (in the discussion of tea) retain a far more sophisticated series of

propositions. Could these conversations be the art itself? (as in Duchamp’s ‘extended definition of Art’

-Social Sculpture).


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