Archival Gesture


To write about the Periodical Review – an annual exhibition, now in its seventh iteration – is to repeat and confront the curatorial project’s own questions and provocations. Hosted, organised and partially curated by the not-for-profit artist-run space, Pallas Projects/Studios in Dublin, Periodical Review aims to enliven the practice of contemporary exhibition-making by reimaging the gallery space as a magazine. The exhibition title, in itself, echoes this publishing endeavour, suggesting something occurring at regular intervals. Periodical Review offers a unique opportunity to look back on the preceding year in Irish art, by showcasing artworks that have previously been exhibited nationally. Holding an annual survey of contemporary art is certainly a provocative proposition. A list of selected artworks immediately queries what isn’t present, what has been left out and by what authority?

The format has remained largely intact from the beginning. Working alongside Pallas Projects’ directors, Mark Cullen and Gavin Murphy, invited artists, writers or curators put together a selection of significant artworks exhibited on the island of Ireland during the previous 12 months. This review format calls to mind the Turner Prize – an annual survey of timely and significant moments or practices in contemporary art, within the geographical boundary of the UK. There are key distinctions, of course. At a basic level, the Turner Prize is framed around an individual award, while Periodical Review is a ‘review-styled’ group exhibition. More significant is the fundamental question of institutional weight. The Turner Prize was originally founded by a group of collectors in association with the Tate. Today, it is a monumental event, receiving major corporate sponsorship, celebrity endorsement and widespread coverage in the mainstream media. In contrast, Periodical Review is a grassroots and artist-led initiative, but they share an archival ambition, to remember to reflect on what came before. In an art world captivated by the next up-and-coming artist, commercial gallery trends, or ever-expanding auction records, the desire to reflect upon what mattered and why, during a given timeframe, is both critically challenging and wildly nourishing. Continue reading “Archival Gesture”