With the ongoing closure of all cultural venues nationwide (due to Level 5 public health restrictions, aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19) once again galleries are having to find ways to supplement, extend or archive their exhibition programmes across a range of digital platforms. VAN’s November – December issue considers the pragmatic, conceptual, aesthetic and institutional benefits and challenges of these virtual and screen-based presentations – displaced from physical encounters and no longer dependant on bodily proximity.
The competition brief for the DCC/VAI Art Writing Award 2020 drew on current critical debate surrounding online exhibitions, with writers invited to consider whether this curatorial model, without significant precedent, is an alienating or democratising force for the presentation of art. Applicants responded to the complexity of the brief in diverse and interesting ways. Meadhbh McNutt’s winning essay is published in this issue, outlining the scope of current discourse and potential innovations in artistic practice.
Also in this issue, Matt Packer considers the proliferation of screen-based art as an important opportunity to reimagine the functionality and form of exhibitions. For the first time, VAN’s Critique section includes remote coverage of two online exhibitions, namely ‘Not Alone’ – a travelling exhibition of small-scale works, initiated by Golden Thread Gallery and disseminated via social media – and ‘Drawn From Borders’, a 3D virtual gallery, developed by Artlink in Donegal. Also reviewed in the November/December Critique section are: Sinéad Mi Mhaonaigh at The Dock; ‘The Sea Around Us’ at The Model; and Bernadette Doolan at GOMA Waterford.
Several regional exhibitions are also profiled in this issue, including: Austin McQuinn at The Source Art Centre; the ‘Connection’ project at Droichead Arts Centre; Orla Whelan at Rathfarnham Castle (Dublin); and ‘6’ group exhibition in Kilfane Glebe House Studio, Thomastown, which also coincides with the Regional Focus on County Kilkenny.
This issue also features coverage of several recent or ongoing festivals: Joanne Laws interviews Sarah Browne, Curator of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2020; Joanne also reports on key projects commissioned for Galway 2020 European City of Culture; while Theo Hynan-Radcliff reviews phase one of the 39th Eva International. In addition, curator Alissa Kleist outlines various artistic projects realised as part of the Freelands Artist Programme.
In the last issue of 2020, we are profiling several Irish organisations who have been celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, namely 25 years of Hillsboro Fine Art and 30 years of Backwater Artists Studio.
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