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Critique

‘Lavish and Judicious’

CCA Derry~Londonderry 11 August – 12 October 2018 ‘Lavish and Judicious’ is a multivalent and complex exhibition, presented across the three gallery spaces at CCA and featuring work by four female artists: Aideen Doran, Jaana Kokko, Jennifer Trouton and Caroline Achaintre. There are essentially six artworks in the exhibition, including a single-channel film installation and sound installation. According to the exhibition statement, these works speak to “the overlaps between the historical, the ethnological, landscape and colonialism” and how these forces can be “mapped to contemporary systems of production”. The exhibition’s starting point is Sion Mills, a model village and linen mill in County Tyrone, established by the Herdman family in

Phil Collins ‘This Is The Day’

The MAC, Belfast 10 August – 21 October 2018 So often, when artists reach a certain level of recognition, when the money rolls in and they are showered with very large budgets to play with, their integrity melts into air. They find themselves driven by the market, their hard-fought methods and concepts diluted by the establishment that supports them. Happily, Phil Collins is a rare exception to this rule and this show at the MAC provides evidence of his continued growth over the years. The centrepiece of ‘This is the Day’ is the hour-long film, Ceremony (2017), commemorating the Russian Revolution. It tells the story of Collins’ relocation of a

Seamus Harahan & Thomas McCarthy ‘my comfort and my joy: Songs from the Irish Other’

Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin 19 September – 17 November 2018 Shot on a Hi8 video camera in Seamus Harahan’s familiar, bare-bones style, the film at the heart of this exhibition is presented as an episodic, fragmented documentary, displayed across an array of antique monitors and makeshift screens. With a miscellany of other objects scattered around the gallery space – an old paperback of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger, an enamelled teapot, a Sleaford Mods record – the ramshackle installation feels a little like a car-boot sale. Fancier notes are provided by a copy of a famous tapestry, which functions as a kind of backdrop and a single Eames aluminium chair.1 Less fancy

Theresa Nanigian ‘Just a bit extraordinary’

Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda 22 September – 3 November 2018 In the Highlanes Gallery, Theresa Nanigian presents a crowd-pleasing show, peppered with many different faces and voices, each expressing individual experience and cumulatively communicating a universal humanity that is a comfort to bask in. ‘Just a bit extraordinary’ is comprised of distinct parts that were previously presented individually in Limerick City Gallery and The LAB, Dublin. Three ‘chapters’ have now coalesced at the Highlanes, encompassing the artist’s exploration of “the expression of identity across the lifespan.” This ‘lifespan’ is predominantly represented through three photographic series: ‘not sorry’ documenting teenager’s unoccupied bedrooms (youth); ‘master of my universe’ featuring vendors on the Venice

Museum of Mythological Water Beasts

Ormston House, Limerick 7 – 27 September 2018 Having spent almost an hour visiting the exhibition, ‘Museum of Mythological Water Beasts’ (curated by Mary Conlon and Niamh Brown) I was happily joined by my international colleague, Mat Rappaport, a Chicago-based artist and curator who was holidaying in Ireland. Mat had given a riveting talk on his practice in LSAD the previous day and was keen to explore the vibrant Limerick art scene he had heard about in the States. We walked around the exhibition together and later discussed the merits of the show, which had captured our joint imagination, if for somewhat different reasons. I particularly enjoyed the exhibition’s accumulative

Bren Smyth ‘Substance of Things’

Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin 25 July – 4 August 2018 Bren Smyth’s ‘Substance of Things’ at Pallas Projects/Studios consisted of nine framed works on paper. Curated by Róisín Bohan, this was Smyth’s first solo exhibition, which was funded by Dublin City Council. The Artist-Initiated Programme at Pallas has proved crucial in the Dublin context, where accessible platforms for emerging artists to exhibit their work appear to be diminishing. The nine works displayed were mostly monochromatic, made using charcoal and gesso. The surface quality of each work has a tension between the chalky dry white gesso and the greasy application of the black charcoal. Most works tend towards grisaille, although there are

Klaudia Olszyńska ‘51.791384, -8.291099’

Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group, Cork 20 July – 17 August 2018 Klaudia Olszyńska’s exhibition at Studio 12 in Backwater Artists Group consists of four mixed-media works that could be best described as ‘expanded paintings’. The exhibition takes its title from the GPS map coordinates of an area revealed via Google maps to be along Fennell’s Bay Road in Myrtleville, County Cork. The resonance of the works is posited (in a paragraph-long contextualisation) as residing in the abandoned buildings present at the places with which they share coordinates. The colour scheme of the works revolves around blacks, greys, off-white plaster shades and diffused, near mould-coloured greens. All contain the downward

Ronnie Hughes & Evgeniya Martirosyan ‘Outflow’

126 Artist-Run Gallery, Galway 16 – 29 July 2018 ‘Outflow’, a two-person show at 126 Artist-Run Gallery, was one of the highlights of this year’s contemporary art offerings at the Galway International Arts Festival. It was a thoughtful and considered pairing of two very different artists, curated with sensitivity by Stephan Roche. The intricate, puzzle-like, abstract paintings of Ronnie Hughes were teamed with Evgeniya Martirosyan’s sculptural mechanisms and enigmatic film. The two bodies of work both contrasted and complemented each other, each presenting different interpretations on themes of accumulation, pattern and system theories. Numerous abstract figures and forms populate Hughes’s intimately-sized paintings, which draw the viewer in close. I was

Justine McDonnell ‘A composition of she’

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast 19 July – 25 August 2018 Bare interior. Protruding grey stage. Stage set in darkness. Curtains drawn.      Centre left of stage, she stands, faintly lit, from close-up and below      She is enveloped from head to foot in black.      Behind She, the Other emerges out of darkness.      Motionless off stage three Narrators stand, facing directly across from the stage.      They face front, without deviation, throughout.      An invisible microphone sits beneath each mouth.      Their speech is prompted by a pronounced breath.      Each voice toneless, except where an expression is indicated.    

Leo Boyd ‘Welcome to the Simulation’

Atom Gallery, London 5 – 26 May 2018 There is an immediate urgency to ideas surrounding the digital – whether in terms of its technological capabilities, the dark underbelly of its culture, or in its increasing influence across political and economic spheres. It feels definitive of the present moment in a way that is all-consuming, whilst also being difficult to fully articulate. Belfast-based street artist and printmaker Leo Boyd wrestles with the philosophical questions posed by artificial intelligence, by taking influence from the work of Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. Are we living in a computer simulation? Perhaps life as we know it is nothing but fragments of data on some

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