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Critique

‘MANMADE’

Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown2 November 2018 – 23 January 2019 The current exhibition, ‘MANMADE’, at Millennium Court Arts Centre, features the work of several artists examining marine debris, coral life and metaphors of irrevocable danger carried by the sea, based on increasing levels of human pollution that threaten the oceanic ecosystem. The centre has developed an accompanying public programme, comprising a range of outreach activities, aimed at promoting environmental consciousness. This agenda acts to both serve and subvert the curatorial theme: collectively the artworks explore this subject and its associated materials, yet the conceptual integrity of the exhibition is undermined, in its framing as some sort of awareness campaign.

‘Infrastructures of Now’

NCAD Gallery, Dublin21 September – 30 November 2018 The glass modernist façade of the NCAD Gallery may be considered a portal into the machine itself. To function, this machine depends on an engaged, creative, intellectual exchange between students, researchers, lecturers and artists, who are in turn inherently dependent on the infrastructures and resources the machine affords them. ‘Infrastructures of Now’, curated by Anne Kelly, interrogates this interdependency, critically addressing questions of autonomy, institutional expectations and the technical methodologies and languages engaged by the contemporary practitioners it frames. The works featured in this exhibition have at some point – either notionally or physically – passed through the engine rooms of this

Tomas Penc ‘ENDUSER’

Triskel Christchurch, Cork 11 October – 22 December 2018 In large black type, the word “ENDUSER” confronts visitors, while underneath, an inscrutable text begins: “you owe me, big smooth eggs of divine fertility laid out of the window into the endless landscape.” The phrase “you owe me” is repeated throughout this text: “you owe me…snow… strawberries…colour…”. Some, but not all, of the things ‘owed’ also appear in the presented artworks.  Penc presented two distinct and consecutive phases of this exhibition, each running for approximately a month at Triskel Christchurch – an eighteenth-century neoclassical Georgian church, which functions as Triskel Art Centre’s main auditorium. The titular artwork, ENDUSER, featured in both iterations,

Chris Doris ‘The Empty Field’

The Model, Sligo17 November 2018 – 27 January 2019 This extensive exhibition by Chris Doris is installed across five gallery spaces at the Model, exploring a number of thematic strands, influenced by components of the artist’s life, namely: meditation, psychotherapy, psychology and neurobiology. Doris brings these professional interests into play and reinterprets them in the gallery context, showcasing a unique range of observational modes, as well as a lucid, coherent range of artworks.  What might initially appear as hard-edged abstraction within the galleries, is softened through the introduction of the outside world. Natural light is present in three of the five spaces; it appears to have been deliberately choreographed to

Maud Cotter ‘a consequence of – without stilling’

Limerick City Gallery of Art 30 September 2018 – 6 January 2019  The fundamental experience generated by Maud Cotter’s solo exhibition, ‘a consequence of – without stilling’, at Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA) is appropriately described in the exhibition text as “a mercurial landscape of the mind… a place where matter and consciousness mix”.  Cotter, who was one of the founders of the National Sculpture Factory, Cork, displays an uncanny understanding of, and meticulous control over, the materials she uses, as dramatically evident in two large-scale sculptures: without stilling (2017–18), a skilfully imagined construction, produced entirely of finely cut Finnish birch ply in the South Gallery; and matter of fact

‘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

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