Brexit & the Arts

VAI is an all Ireland body, which means that Brexit will have a clear impact on us and on all arts organisations across the island who operate either across the border or ROI collaborations with UK organisations, festivals and events.

The unfortunate truth is that the fallout from the vote has already happened. The fall in Sterling has had a direct impact on organisations such as ours that receive funding from Northern Ireland. Around 19% of our funding comes from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and through our membership in Northern Ireland. With the collapse of the Sterling against the Euro this has now been reduced to around 13%. Continue reading “Brexit & the Arts”

You Are Seeing Things

RAYNE BOOTH INTERVIEWS BARBARA WAGNER AND BENJAMIN DE BURCA ABOUT THEIR PARTICIPATION IN THE 2016 SAO PAOLO BIENNIAL.

The 32nd São Paulo Biennial took place in Parque Ibirapuera, a rare green space in the centre of the vast and expansive city of São Paulo. The collaborative practice of Irish artist Benjamin De Búrca and Brazilian artist Bárbara Wagner featured among the biennial’s 81 participating artists. The title of the biennial, ‘Incerteza Viva’ or ‘Live Uncertainty’, echoed recent remarks by Brazil’s new president Michel Temer, who stated recently that the years of uncertainty experienced under a Socialist Party government had come to an end. The biennial strongly emphasised ecological and social issues, while a huge educational programme of school visits, tours and special events attempted to bridge the distance between the concerns of the art world and those who inhabit the city’s boundless favelas and low income suburbs.

Continue reading “You Are Seeing Things”

Imperfect Loops & Screen Memories

The audio-essay I recently produced in collaboration with Justin Barton, On Vanishing Land, was in part a disquisition on the eerie. [1] For us, the eerie was defined by problems of agency. In the deserted spaces which often trigger the feeling of the eerie, we are forced to ask if there is an agent present, unseen but watching us. If an agent is present, what is its nature? Is it hostile, friendly, or merely indifferent? The feeling of the eerie is also likely to be provoked by the contemplation of the relics left behind by agents who have long departed. The statues on Easter Island, the stone circle at Avebury – these confront us with gaps in our knowledge. What kind of agents built these constructions, and what (now irretrievably lost) symbolic regime made sense of them?

Continue reading “Imperfect Loops & Screen Memories”

Just Say No

The artist Michael Wilkinson’s show ‘Lions After Slumber’, which was exhibited last May at the Modern Institute in Glasgow, was a repository of artefacts from past militant moments. The show was dominated by images and objects referring to the May ‘68 events in Paris and the punk and post-punk cultural sequences that happened in the UK in the late 70s and early 80s. The largest item in ‘Lions After Slumber’ was a massive photograph of Piccadilly Circus – the same image that had hung, upside down, in Malcolm McLaren’s shop Seditionaries in the 70s. But, tellingly, Wilkinson exhibited the photograph the right way up, a sign of the ways in which – in the thirty subsequent years – power has been restored. Wilkinson’s show was in many ways about the same malaise that I described in my book Capitalist Realism. [1] The book is about the retreat of the militancy, which ‘Lions After Slumber’ invokes. The surrender of any utopian impulse to a ‘capitalist realism’ which expects business to dominate all areas of culture has elicited a range of responses – a mordant sense of resignation, a cheerily compliant cynicism, an impotent protest, the quiet yet implacable plague of youth depression. All of which is manifested in a culture given over to (a largely unacknowledged) retrospection and pastiche. But even as pessimism totally pervades today’s culture at an unconscious level, negativity is officially abjured.

Continue reading “Just Say No”

Towards a New Mainstream

Thank you for flying with transnational commodification

we shall shortly be arriving in mayhem

if there is anybody on board who can impersonate a pilot

it would be of comfort to the other passengers…

Never have these lines from Nick Land’s 1992 theoretical-fiction Circuitries seemed more acute. After 2011, it would be perverse for anyone to talk about the end of history any more. It was as if, after a prolonged period of emaciation, history has been bingeing. The density of world-historic events in 2011 was such that it seemed almost impossible either to keep track of them, or to believe that they had all happened in one year: the Arab Spring, the death of bin Laden, the Breivik atrocity, the Japanese tsunami, the riots in England, the Euro crisis, the emergence of the Occupy movement. We are in the midst of almighty, and perhaps unprecedented, chaos. The world has never been more interconnected, but parliamentary politics has never seemed more impotent. The globalised systems connecting the planet are vectors for financial contagion, not channels for expressing collective agency. There are no credible experts. Mainstream economists have been radically discredited, not only by their failure to predict the financial collapse of 2008, but their complicity in it. Professional politicians designed for an era of supposedly post-political administration, in which nodding compliance to business was all that was required, are unable to adapt to the new conditions, in which imaginative thinking, decisiveness and charismatic interventions are at a premium. In an attempt to orientate ourselves, we seek historical parallels. The most ominous is, of course, the 1930s, with the prospect of Europe slipping from neoliberal consensus towards internecine and perhaps ethnocidal conflict. While politicians flail and bluster on a collapsed centre ground, the far right are ready to ‘impersonate pilots’ for populations that are bewildered and shell-shocked by everything that has happened since 2008, and intensely anxious about what it is to come.

Continue reading “Towards a New Mainstream”

The Saw Tooth Wave/Put to the Sword

Benedict Drew/Miguel Martin, CCA Derry-Londonderry, 15 October – 11 December

I recently took a ‘How Millennial Are You?’ personality quiz while I should have been searching for a job, if you can digest the irony. “You are asleep. Where’s your phone?” was one memorable question. There could only be one answer: “On the pillow next to me”.

Continue reading “The Saw Tooth Wave/Put to the Sword”

Paper Trails

Mary Patterson, Ballina Arts Centre, 10 November – 31 December 2016

Arriving at Ballina Arts Centre on a wild November morning and seeing the River Moy in flood, the logic of Mary Patterson’s exhibition seems very clear: to try to find responses to nature through art. The appropriately named ‘Paper Trails’ features a series of works on paper created through a formidable range of drawing and printmaking processes. Patterson’s use of diverse techniques forms part of her quest to identify a medium and a language that can convey the beauty and complexity of nature. The artworks that feature in the exhibition are displayed in the open-plan landing space that curves out towards the adjacent River Moy. This light, airy space provides an ideal setting for the works in close proximity to nature.

Continue reading “Paper Trails”

Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016

National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 26 November 2016 – 26 March 2017

There are 14 portraits in this exhibition of shortlisted works. Surrounding the viewer on all sides, in each one a lone figure is presented (why no couples or groups?) and this singular focus contributes to the sense we’re in the company of deities. There are also a lot of big heads, their presence dominating the small room at the top of the Millennium Wing’s forbidding stairs. Of course the figure of the artist is also present, directly in the self-portraits, or otherwise implicated. Open to artists in all disciplines, the shortlist consists mostly of paintings, nine in total, along with two photographs, a graphite drawing, a digital drawing and a video projection onto a terracotta bust.

Continue reading “Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016”

Beyond Matter: Phantasmagoric Fluid

PÁDRAIC E. MOORE DISCUSSES ‘ECTOPLASM’, AN EVENT HE INITIATED AT 1646 PROJECT SPACE LOCATED IN THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS.

‘Ectoplasm’ was a one-off, nocturnal event hosted by 1646, a project space in the centre of The Hague. The event, which comprised performances, screenings, participatory actions, readings and physical objects, was the culmination of a curatorial residency I undertook at 1646 in 2015. In addition to a programme of exhibitions, 1646 hosts artists talks, screenings, lectures and events, providing a platform for experimental art practices as well as short-term residencies for foreign artists and curators. The residency provides participants with both a working studio and living space. I was delighted to spend time in The Hague, the administrative capital of the Netherlands. As well as the appeal of the city’s ever-expanding arts scene, the Gemeentemuseum also houses several key works by one of my favourite artists, Piet Mondrian. While one isn’t obliged to present a public project at 1646, I was eager to share some of my recent research with new audiences. ‘Ectoplasm’ brought to fruition the dialogues I had developed with practitioners from the Netherlands and further afield.

Continue reading “Beyond Matter: Phantasmagoric Fluid”

1:1 Scale

JOANNE LAWS INTERVIEWS ALISTAIR HUSDON, DIRECTOR OF MIMA AND CO-DIRECTOR OF ARTE ÚTIL.

In 2014, Alistair Hudson was appointed director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), part of Teesside University. From 2004 to 2014, Alistair was deputy director of Grizedale Arts – a contemporary arts residency and commissioning agency in the central Lake District in rural Northern England. In keeping with the principles of Arte Útil, mima describes itself as a ‘useful’ museum, established through ‘usership’ rather than spectatorship.

Continue reading “1:1 Scale”