Over the last few months, the livelihoods of artists have been catastrophically affected by the unprecedented public health restrictions, undertaken to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The closure of all cultural venues has resulted in the cancellation or postponement of thousands of exhibitions and events across Ireland.
VAN’s July/August issue features profiles from numerous VAI members at different career stages, working across a diverse range of media, who discuss the realities of maintaining an art practice during a global pandemic. This section, titled ‘Notes From Lockdown’, highlights how many VAI members have been unable to access their studios, workspaces or materials during this period, whilst others have rejected the prevalent impulse of ‘hyper-productivity’, instead using this period of isolation to archive or revisit older works, and to critically reflect on their artistic methods and trajectories.
Another core thematic strand of our summer issue is ‘The Unseen Shows’, a series of profiles on selected exhibitions that have been cancelled, postponed, or sealed behind closed doors over the last few months. In early April, we launched a podcast series of the same name, which is being published every two weeks on SoundCloud until late July. These podcasts feature interviews with several artists whose exhibitions have been affected by the lockdown. As an interim project, the podcast format seems to suit the confined conditions of lockdown, whilst fundamentally highlighting the pace and sensibility of the act of listening.
In a related project, VAN’s Production Editor, Christopher Steenson, has recently been working on VAI’s Get Together audio archive, which includes recordings of various talks, panel discussions and keynote presentations that have taken place at Get Together events between 2017 and 2019. Many of these recordings are now available to listen to on SoundCloud (soundcloud.com/visualartistsireland), as well as in the Members’ Section of the VAI website (visualartists.ie/members-area). We hope that having access to these recordings will help fill the void left by the cancellation of this year’s Get Together, which was due to take place on 12 June.
At the time of writing, many commercial galleries across the Republic of Ireland have begun the process of reopening to the public, having been closed since 12 March. All going to plan, most commercial galleries, public galleries, art centres and artist-led spaces nationwide will reopen in some capacity by the end of July. As VAN’s editorial team continue to work remotely, we wish to extend best wishes to our colleagues in the sector. We look forward to reviving physical encounters with art over the coming months, whatever form this may take.
On the cover: Mieke Vanmechelen & Jennifer Redmond, Catastrophe, 2020, coloured black and white still; image © mink 2020, courtesy of the artists.
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