OCCUPY PAPER EIGHTH ISSUE
consonni An interview with the Bilbao art-producersâ€™ general manager Marielle Uhalde
Wickham Street Studios Interviews with current studio members
documenta (13) Kate Andrews on mass art consumption and cultural fatigue at dOCUMENTA (13)
Reflective Practices Submissions of text and image from our Open Call
OUR TEAM Claire Walsh Co-Editor Claire Walsh graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2011 with an Honours Degree in Painting. Since leaving college she has been involved as a gallery assistant at Occupy Space and become co-editor of this, its online and print publication. Currently undertaking a postgraduate MFA in Contemporary Art Theory at Edinburgh College of Art, Walsh is studying artwriting as practice and donating her time to essay and travelogue writing.
Catherine MARY O’Brien Co-Editor Catherine O’Brien received her BA (Hons) in Sculpture and Combined Media from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009 and is currently studying an Msc. in Modern and Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism at Edinburgh University. Her interests lie in the integration of art, new media and education which has directly led her to her current position as Program Assistant with New Media Scotland.
Aoife Flynn Co-Editor Aoife Flynn is a visual artist and curator. She graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2008 with an Honours Degree in Painting and has recently completed a Masters in Visual Arts Practice, IADT Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. Recent projects include New Living Art III, IMOCA(Nov-Dec 2012), EXIT Limerick, as part of eva International, EU-topia at Market Studios, Dublin (Jan-Feb 2013), and currently working towards Just in Time, with MART(May 2013).
John O’Brien Art Direction John O’Brien graduated from Limerick School of Art & Design in 2010 with an Honours degree in Visual Communications. Since then he has worked primarily as a Freelance Graphic Designer, working for clients including the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Value Added in Africa and Limerick Institute of Technology. John now resides in Edinburgh, working for the Leith based design agency Creative Storm Ltd.
EIGHTH ISSUE CONTENTS
A word from Occupy Paper editors Claire Walsh, Aoife Flynn and Catherine Mary O’Brien
Consonni8 An interview with the Bilbao art-producers’ general manager Marielle Uhalde
Wickham Street Studios
Interviews with current studio members
Kate Andrews on mass art consumption and cultural fatigue at dOCUMENTA (13)
SOUVENIR32 Reminder, keepsake, token Take as a memento
Occupy Space sans gallery space: directors Orlaith Treacy and Noelle Collins speak to Aoife Flynn about what comes next
Reflective Practice Submissions of text and image from our Open Call
EDITORS NOTE Many changes have come about since the re-launch of Occupy Paper in May last year, some of which have resulted in the later than planned follow-up Issue which you currently read. Aoife Cox left the Paper team back in September and in the following months Aoife Flynn, the original editor and founder of Occupy Paper, re-joined as co-editor along with Edinburgh-based artist and writer Catherine Mary O’Brien. With the change of editors we decided it was time to recalculate our position and coinciding with new geographical problems; to redraw our map. With none of the editors currently based in Limerick, some burgeoning geographical issues tied up with publishing an online Limerick-based journal have needed addressing. For Occupy Paper, Limerick is two things: it is both the real tangible space with the art places therein, and the abstract space that it represents as an art community on
the periphery of the art world. What we take from our Limerick home is this sense of the peripheral and an understanding of the significance of Limerick’s DIY art scene, which; combined with the steely framework of well-established practitioners and organisations thoroughly willing to collaborate, offers unique opportunity to the likes of us. What it provides is a bridgebetween and a space for stumbling; the gap between emerging and established, and a place for development of perhaps unfinished ideas. Our aim is that the space we create within the Paper mirrors this. While the good geographer would draw the line at the Shannon, our space actually expands from here. Occupy Paper is now working with methods of link-making that draw comparisons with projects and places in similar situations to the Limerick one. Linkmaking: by way of similarity, difference, condition, literally, debatably, contrived, organic, ineffectual, vague, involving alignment and contention. With these carefully considered and sometimes obscure
strategies of association we can stimulate connections and self-reflection. Linking different practices under the theme of production, we feature Bilbao-based art producers consonni and Limerick artists’ studio, Wickham St. Studios. Both spaces of production: one the artists’ studio where artworks are manufactured in the most physical sense, the other a production company dealing in projects where the emphasis is on the ‘immaterial’ side of manufacture, these houses of research and production have their own distinct ways of getting things done. An insightful interview with consonni manager Marielle Uhalde begins on page 10, while Wickham Street Studios members speak to Aoife Flynn about their means and modes of production on page 16. As the Limerick summer passed by slowly in the infinite present, Kassel bustled with eager art tourists in town for the 100-day art extravaganza that was Carolyn ChristovBakargiev’s dOCUMENTA(13). With venues
Occupy Paper were involved in Mary Conlon’s 6 Memos ‘Writer-in-residence’ project at Ormston House in August Far Left: Image from Leon Battista Alberti’s “De re aedificatoria” (On the Art of Building), 15th century Left: Installation image of Writer-in-residence at Ormston House. Work by Stephen Sutcliffe. Photo:Gimena Blanco
Left: Installation image of Writer-in-residence at Ormston House. Works by Stephen Sutcliffe, Gerard Byrne and BANK. Photo: Gimena Blanco In October Occupy Paper took part in the Commissions+ symposium, organised by Valerie Connor and Fingal County Council. Aoife Flynn was part of the ‘Editors’ panel discussion along with representatives from Fugitive Papers, Critical Bastards and Paper Visual Art Journal. Below Left: Image from Commissions+ symposium at Donabate, Fingal, October 2012
spread between country and continent, seeing it all was hardly an option. How can we consume this kind of super-scale exhibition and what can we hope to take away? Edinburgh-based writer Kate Andrews has written two pieces in response to her experience at the event this summer. The first text reports on the exhaustive type of art tourism on display, while the second piece is an extended definition of the souvenir, according to Kate. Pages 26 and 32.
from notebooks, sketchbooks and digital recordings. What we got (with the exception of Brian Kielt’s piece) was something more polished, or once removed from that: a kind of prose style - more suitable for the mode of publication, perhaps was the reasoning. It was interesting to see the strong connections between the completely different ways of working described and a consistent reference to transcendence. Read through them on page 42.
We were surprised by the submissions that we received from our open call for reflective practice because what we had expected to get were actual or transcribed notes of reflection
On page 34 current Occupy Space directors Noelle Collins and Orlaith Treacy respond to Aoife Flynn’s questions about their plans for the future now that the gallery space at
Thomas Street is gone. The level of support received from members of the Limerick art community in the wake of the gallery’s closure has helped to convert this adverse situation into opportunity. The directors have meanwhile been taking this interval as a time to research and reconfigure a new, more sustainable model for Occupy Space’s survival in the city. We hope you enjoy our ‘bi-monthly’ promised and ‘seven-month later-ly’ delivered Issue 8. Claire Walsh, Catherine Mary O’Brien & Aoife Flynn
consonni is a producer of art projects. Since 1997, it has been inviting artists to develop projects which do not take the form of an art object displayed in an exhibition space. Matthieu Laurette, Hinrich Sachs, Andrea Fraser, Sergio Prego, Ibon Aranberri, Itziar Okariz, Saioa Olmo, Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum, Virginia Villaplana, María Ruido, etc. are developing works with consonni which borrow tools from the contemporary world to produce art projects in a wide variety of formats (including a television programme, an auction of Basque typography, guided tours of an abandoned amusement park and a march of zombies) to subvert, criticise or simply analyse the society that surrounds them1.
The following is an interview with Marielle Uhalde, who is manager at the Bilbao-based art organisation consonni2. To briefly introduce what I have learned about consonni’s work over the past months, mainly through my communication with Marielle, I think it’s important to draw attention to this image of Andrea Fraser in a loving embrace with the lobby walls of the Bilbao Guggenheim (below). The image is a still from ‘Little Frank and his Carp’; a video work by Fraser which was produced by consonni in 2001, and which Uhalde played for the audience of Commissions+3 as part of her presentation on consonni. Fraser, who poses as a visitor at the museum, is apparently turned on by her surroundings and by what she listens to on the audio-guide; being overcome by this, she then proceeds to have a very (public) personal moment with the granite walls in the foyer. This humorous clip is a perfect illustration of the motivations behind consonni’s more subversive productions which are in no small part inspired by the impact of the ‘Guggenheim effect’ on the local art scene in Bilbao.
consonni defines itself as; “a producer of art projects who collaborate with artists and collectives to produce work that does not take on the form of an art object for display in an exhibition space.” With a Brechtian-style laying bare of the means of production, consonni enacts a sort of demystification process that draws attention to underlying factors that shape conditions of production in the locale of Bilbao. “Production stops being only a necessary procedure towards what’s exhibited in order to be a manifestation itself”4. Everything from dealing with stakeholders, organising a site and procuring funding makes up the production and by illuminating these processes what consonni present to us is a nuanced set of social relationships that (on the scale of the local) highlight the intersection of art and society. Projects engaged in the pragmatics of art production might not suggest images of the sublime but for all its transparency there is something indeed poetic about the work produced; the balance of the aesthetic and the critical carefully suspended someplace between fiction and reality.
Official consonni remit. Source; Marielle Uhalde. 1
This interview was carried out through email correspondence between Claire Walsh and Marielle Uhalde with the collaboration of consonni’s director and curator/producer María Mur Dean. Commissions+ was a symposium organised by Valerie Connor and Fingal County Council on the topic of public art commissions which was held in Donabate, Dublin in October 2012. Occupy Paper was there as part of a panel discussion on commissioning editors with a number of other Irish art journals.
Quote from Maria Ruido taken from interview between the author and Marielle Uhalde.. 4
In contrast to the Anglo-Saxon model, the sponsorship model is not really known or promoted in Spain. For instance, in the cultural field (regional level), only 20 organisations have been declared as priority (to be offered tax deduction), and consonni is the only non-profit organisation. There is no tradition of sponsorship for small non-profit organisations and the government (or any institutional organisation) doesn’t aim to promote the law and encourage companies to finance these organisations. Moreover, the tax deduction percentage for companies is one of the lowest in Europe at 35%.
INTERVIEW Claire Walsh: Could you briefly explain the effect of the ‘Guggenheim effect’ for non-profit art organizations such as consonni in Bilbao? Marielle Uhalde: The Guggenheim is the perfect example of the will to transform Bilbao from an industrial city into a citybrand and attractive spot for tourism, and to place Bilbao onto the world cultural map. The Guggenheim’s arrival is inserted into a wider plan to regenerate the city by means of inviting famous names to Bilbao, and thus providing the city with new amenities. Examples of this are Norman Foster’s subway and Calatrava’s bridge. The arrival of an internationally recognised museum has been responsible for bringing the local art scene into view, while at the same time not really getting in touch with it. Instead of contributing to the strengthening of cultural fabric, generating connections and giving birth to new projects of collaboration the museum has become a model to be followed in order to empower the economiccultural centre of the city. For many small
organisations this cultural political model old factory under the name of ‘center of of big containers which now often remain creation and experimental production’. The empty, and even abandoned in some cases, objective was to offer a production space is not very encouraging. In the eyes of the based in artistic experimentation without institutions issuing public grants it seems material expectations over the result. Two that there is a need to compete with these years later the factory is left behind and the big ‘stones’: in terms of attracting notion of centre is abandoned in order the affluences of tourism with to benefit even more strongly the international brand-recognition process of production, as well as and showcasing of famous permitting the project to find “Production artists, while operating under its own format, place and stops being only a a private/public financing appropriate collaborations necessary procedure model in a country where for its realisation. From the the sponsorship model will of letting the project towards what’s hardly exists5. exhibited in order to be decide its own format many projects have arisen a manifestation from working with non-art CW: Why is it that itself” institutions such as Mattieu consonni strives to produce Laurette’s The Great Exchange only immaterial projects? (2000). Laurette’s project aimed to question capitalistic profit logic through MU: consonni was founded as a the devices of advertising rhetoric- by making contemporary art practice centre in 1996 a TV programme. The programme, which was by an artist, Franck Larcade, at a time broadcast live over several weeks, consisted where production was hardly ever discussed of a barter-in-chain where a valuable object and within a context where the creation is interchanged with a less valuable one (it of cultural artefacts for exhibition was began with a car and ended with a pair of granted privilege, neglecting the process glasses). The goal here was not representation involved in producing the exhibited work. but reproducing the relation between the The association began its activity in an
Previous Page: consonni, image of the office Far Left: Andrea Fraser, video still from Little Frank and His Carp, 2001 Left: Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum, image from Stay Inside. Close Windows and Doors, 2008 Next Page: Maria Ruido, Electro Class, 2011
market and mass media through its most representative form; the television. As indicated by consonni’s director, Maria Mur Dean “Production stops being only a necessary procedure towards what’s exhibited in order to be a manifestation itself”, by which imperative consonni adopted the legal structures of an organisation in order to adapt to projects that realise production itself. In 2003 consonni became a music producer for the phonographic project of the artist Begoña Muñoz as well as a TV producer for both Matthieu Laurette and Maria Ruido, but for each of these projects this was only for a time, as a means, ephemeral, and ending with the project... For us, production encompasses all the steps along the way to the realisation of a project: relations with the artist, the construction of a contract specific to the project and its collaborators, negotiations of funding, the adaptation of our project to the application grant, relations between our art organisation and organisations from other fields (TV companies, feminist organisations…etc.) and figurations on how to adapt our legal form in order to produce the project. Each project is seen as a new challenge and opens a new reflection and analysis about the conditions of production and the relation between art and society. Also, just to note that immaterial production does not reject “material” artwork- a large amount of projects produced by consonni can be found in galleries or museums- but makes visible and benefits production processes. CW: As organised by ENPAP6, ‘Going Public. Telling It As It Is?’ explored storytelling as a mode of production and reception in terms of public art, how does consonni perceive storytelling to function in this way? How does consonni use storytelling as a strategy for action? MU: The use of storytelling as a methodology in ENPAP was a collective curatorial decision made along with the other members of the ENPAP network (Mossutställningar, Situations, BAC, Vector and SKOR). We see it as a way to underline what remains from many ephemeral projects that occur in public space: the story. Besides being a traditional tool, storytelling is at its peak in this time of cognitive capitalism where that which is sold is experiences more often than objects themselves. Storytelling can be subversive or domineering, and it remains in the imagination. At consonni, the use of storytelling has many different forms and methodologies. Along with
Virginia Villaplana we developed a project which became a publication that analysed experimental storytelling and its capacity to represent female desire from a feminist and emancipatory perspective. In ElectroClass, María Ruido uses a disrupted storytelling method, producing a film that involved the dismantling of parts of the ETB archive (regional Basque television) along with other films in order to investigate storytelling as a medium for representing the contemporary working class. We are now working on concepts of theatricality and its capacity to analyse fiction and reality. What’s more, we are so interested in these questions that consonni has developed a parallel publishing activity that gives space to narrative investigations. For instance, we have published Lutxo Egia’s novel,
‘Metamorfosis en el noveno asalto’, which is a fiction about a previously produced project in consonni. CW: In the primer for the ENPAP symposium Claire Doherty mentions that; “of most interest to our peer network of artists, curators, funders and stakeholders was the emergence of a language to distinguish a visual arts curatorial approach to art in the public realm from gallery-based curating, public art consultancy and outdoor art event management.” How does this new language function as regards communications with funders and stakeholders? I’m just curious as to how you find the language to communicate
the merits of a more critical and less material mode of production to stakeholders with a more traditional view of public art commissions. MU: In Manifesta 10 magazine, John Roberts, through a re-reading of “Author as producer” by Walter Benjamin, comments that the public perception of artistic work has changed “it no longer exists in an externalizing realm of aesthetic contemplation opposed to art’s possible social utility, but as a critical manifestation of a continuum of technical skill and knowledge shared with non-artists and workers.” Non-art production methods are used, but these are borrowed from the society where the work is inscribed; that relation with contemporaneity entitles the basis of a new language to talk about public art production where the main focus is not only discussing
art in public space, but also on the work generating dialogue with its surroundings. ‘Dealing’ has become a central element of the production process: many hours of conversation are needed in order to find the right interlocutor; commentating the project, talking about its impact, about its environment, its viability... Without these conditions carefully negotiated, the project may be altered or manipulated. Even in art world productions ‘concept’ is hardly used as it can provoke misunderstanding with museums, galleries and artists. Outside the art world circuit, translation tasks are central where different levels of language need to be taken into consideration. Dealing belongs to production, and therefore becomes an object of analysis. For example, during the Barakaldo Zombiewalk (2008), the director of a sales area forbid us to march
The European Network of Public Art Producers (ENPAP) was formed in 2009 and unites six art organisations that share an affinity for expanding the notion of public art. The founders are: BAC-Baltic Art Center; Sweden; consonni, Spain; Mossutställningar, Sweden; Situations, United Kingdom; SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain, The Netherlands and Vector Association, Romania.
‘Going Public – Telling it as it is?’ was a three-day symposium organised by ENPAP and aimed at exploring storytelling as a mode for the production and reception of public art.
on the streets outside a shopping centre by alluding that they were hers, when in fact they were of the municipality. That march was part of the project “Stay inside. Close windows and doors” (Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum 2008/2009), which investigated consumer society and the lack of difference between private and public space. The conversation arising from that meeting illustrated the loss of difference between public and private space, which was being analysed by the project, and demonstrates how discussions apparently pragmatic become an essential part of the project. When realising less material projects, we confront with the topic of ‘times of production’ which also leads us to ask what exactly defines the term production. ‘Bird cum ornithologist’ (2011-2013) is a project dedicated to analysing concepts of production. In the interviews carried out through the project the question of research as part of production comes up frequently; in relation to the difficulties with justifying and making visible that process, and because of that, of financing it. consonni divides the projects into different formal devices with the intention of openly showing the investigation processes. With that, it becomes easier to develop economically, get funding agreements or apply for public grants for each device and,
thanks to this, allows the project not to be under pressure for financial reasons. We have also opted for a multiple-financingmodel involving public institution and foundation grants at local level, national and international funding, and economic agreements with cultural entities. In addition to this, we work on creating our own means of funding with sponsorship campaigns, our publishing activity and the distribution of self-produced videos. CW: While researching consonni’s activities I kept thinking of Andrea Fraser’s ‘Speaking of the Social’ speech at ‘Where Do You Stand Colleague’7-her thoughts seem to draw many parallels with the operations of consonni. She talks about the misalignment between art discourse and art production: “What concerns me is the divide between what we do and what we say (or don’t say) about what we do”, referring to the “self-legitimizing” discourses produced within art institutions. It seems to me that consonni aims to circumvent this practice through aligning all elements of production, including discourse- I wondered if you could discuss how consonni works to interconnect ‘what you do and what you say about what you do’. MU: consonni defines itself as a
contemporary art producer. We participate from the beginning in the whole art-creating process with the artist. Production takes on the significance of a communicative action where dialogue with the artist is everything. We work with the production process in its more immaterial and communicative sense keeping in mind the “single demand” presented to the writer in Walter Benjamin’s ‘Author as Producer’: “the demand of reflecting, of thinking about his position in the process of production”, and in this way analyse and question the context where the project is inscribed as well as its production. For us, production encompasses investigation and meetings with the artist, research of funds, meetings with institutions and all communications in between. Into this wish to re-vindicate investigation as part of production, we reveal the whole “hidden” process in a blog called intrahistorias (intrastories), a kind of diary of the project production that we combine with the organisation of public events which allow us to set the project in context. consonni’s on-going project “Bird-cumOrnithologist” is a very good example of how discourse and production interact with each other and have a collective nature. The project carries out an analysis of the production concept in contemporary art with two premises: “The evolution of the
production concept in contemporary art” and “The way that art practices are adapted to fit with current production conditions”. As part of the project we are doing residencies in various other art organizations (such as IASPIS, Stockholm; Hangar, Barcelona and Matadero, Madrid) in order to analyse the production conditions offered in each place. Moreover, we have done several interviews in different countries with various artists, art professionals and professionals from other fields (sociologists, economists, feminists…etc.) as well as the particular funding organizations for the project. The investigation and production process are mixed together to lead to the elaboration of a curatorial frame from which we are going to invite artists to make work about the concept of production from their own project’s production. Like production is the result of a collective process, it also appears to us that the discourse has to be collective. We usually like to surround ourselves with professionals from the field of criticism, who can collaborate in different modes of reflection, which are sometimes opposed. In the case of “Bird-Come-Ornithologist” this practice is essential. On the other hand, sometimes it is a good thing to produce the project but not the discourse about it. consonni, as part of the art system, is aware of the legitimization process and of how art projects need from
others later “illuminations” (in Benjamin’s words) to remain standing through time until it finds its meaning and place. It means that consonni’s projects reflect a way of thinking and acting which is discussed with the particular artist, but it is essential to incite that the discussion and criticism shall be external (i.e. critics, mass media) and not created by consonni even if sometimes encouraged by us. We are aware of the contradictions that arise when presenting immaterial projects and making visible the ‘invisible’, but we do our best not to see them as a negatives but rather as elements of the investigation about production conditions in contemporary society. And, quoting María Ruido, who also quotes Godard: it is not important to do the projects with political contents, but to do them politically.
Left: Going Public - Telling it as it is?, A symposium about artistic practice and public art, organised by ENPAP, 2012, Bilbao Middle: Virginia Villaplana, Soft Fiction, 2009 Right: Josune Urrutia, illustration of the consonni office
‘Where do you stand, colleague?’ was a symposium organised by Texte zur Kunst in December 2010 with the remit of investigating art criticism’s potential to become social critique. Andrea Fraser gave the speech entitled ‘Speaking of the Social World…’ which was printed in issue 81
WICKHAM STREET STUDIOS
In Development: Wickham street Studios
After graduating from LSAD in 2008, Aoife Flynn became one of the founding members of Wickham Street Studios (WSS) alongside eleven other recent graduates. Here, she talks to Wickham Street Studios members and describes how the studio came about and is now run.
In development was how the studio was found, and how it could be still best described. Originally the whole complex, located on Wickham Street in Limerick City centre, was an old pub, the Dolphin Bar, with the owner’s living quarters situated above. When the recession hit, the owner had only gotten part of the way into refurbishing the building, turning the downstairs into shop units but leaving the upstairs unfinished. It was in this condition that a lease was agreed and twelve artists, all recent graduates, moved in. WSS was founded in 2009 by graduates from Limerick School of Art and Design, in response to a lack of available studio space in the city and was under the direction of Ramon Kassam until Sean Guinan took over in 2012. The studio regularly takes in recent graduates and new members and has had more than thirty artists pass through its doors since its inception. One of the studio’s main aims is to provide affordable spaces for artists in which to work as well as an outlet for its members to be part of a wider artistic community. A unique example of this was its members establishing Occupy Space in 2009, initially a short-term project that continues to run in the city. Many of the members of WSS have at one time or another worked in various capacities with projects in the gallery and the current
directors are also former studio members. A sense of community and reciprocal learning is something that is evident throughout the art scene in Limerick and also among the artists in WSS. Of course the best way of finding out about this is to ask the artists themselves and I’ve invited four of the current members to give some insight on what is most important to them about being a part of WSS. Sean Guinan speaks about his experience as a member and now director of the studios and explains how his practice has developed in the last couple of years. Gerry Davis, one of the longest-serving studio members, relates how important it is for each individual member to maintain their own work ethic and how gratifying it is to see former studio members progress with their artistic careers, underlining the valuable nature of a studio like WSS. Recent graduates Joan Stack and Paul Quast, speak about their own experiences of the studio and how it has helped them to develop their work and to find their feet as practicing artists. The artistic freedom offered by WSS has contributed towards Paul’s new work while the great camaraderie in the studio is a great source of help and inspiration for Joan. Being part of WSS with other recent graduates was personally very important to me in developing my own practice after college, learning from other artists and sharing skills and knowledge. And of course the many darts tournaments.
WICKHAM STREET STUDIOS
Aoife Flynn: Can you tell us a bit about the founding of WSS? Sean Guinan: Wickham Street Studios was founded in April 2009 by Ramon kassam. There was a lack of studio spaces in Limerick at the time so Ramon, along with 10 other artists, rented the first and second floor of a property on Wickham Street and transformed it into studios. A lot of work was involved, but it was certainly worthwhile and the studio has gone from strength to strength ever since. I wasn’t one of the original crew as I was travelling at the time but Ramon offered me a space in the studio when I returned to Ireland. We have 17 artists now and have had well over 30 since the studio’s inception. I took over the running of the studio from Ramon in January 2012. AF: There’s a strong link between all the arts organisations in Limerick, especially between WSS and Occupy Space. Can you talk a bit about your experience of the arts scene in Limerick? SG: Occupy Space was initially set by up the members of Wickham Street Studios, so we have always had a strong link with them. Ramon put the idea to Creative limerick about the possibility of obtaining a temporary gallery space to be run by members of the studio and we were offered the use of the Thomas Street Centre. Our members put together the necessary money and labour and before long we had a gallery up and running. We’ve had two Wickham Street Studios members’ exhibitions in Occupy Space, Symbiosis in 2010 and Ludic/Ludo/ Ludos in 2011. We recently had our third exhibition, Wickham Street Depot, in Ormston House and plans are underway for our next exhibition, which will be curated by Aoibheann McCarthy in 2013. Exhibitions are a link between the arts organisations of Limerick but we are also linked in many other ways. For example, every year students from Limerick School of Art and Design are brought to visit the studio and curators from around the city often have studio visits with our members. In addition to this, every Riverfest (May bank holiday), Wickham Street Studios, Contact Studios, Faber Studios, Limerick Printmakers, and Raggle Taggle come together to hold open studios, exhibitions and various other events, in a collaborative effort called C:Inside. Each September, Culture Night is another date on the calendar that pulls Limerick’s arts organisations together. The night is always very positive and reflects well on the Limerick art scene. The footfall
is always great so it’s good publicity for the arts. Links are apparent everywhere you look amongst the studios and galleries. It’s not uncommon for artists here to have worked in two or more of the studios. Likewise, many artists also work in galleries around the city so things are constantly intertwined. Everyone is helpful and supportive and the art scene is pretty active. AF: Why would you recommend a graduate or new member to join WSS? SG: There are many positives about Wickham Street Studios. It’s quite a unique studio with a lot of character and it provides an excellent platform for developing one’s practice. We have a great variety of affordable private, semi-private and open plan spaces. There is also the option of sharing your space with another artist. This makes the spaces very cheap and the electricity bill is negligible when split amongst everyone, which means we can heat our spaces for long stretches at a time without worrying about the cost. We recently got new windows into the studio, which helps to keep in the heat better than in previous years and they also help with noise reduction.
It’s quite a unique studio with a lot of character and it provides an excellent platform for developing one’s practice.
AF: Can you tell us a bit about your current work? SG: The immediate period after my solo exhibition in Limerick City Gallery of Art was a time of reflection I tend to have multiple paintings on the go simultaneously which I feel works well for me. I’ve reworked some older paintings in the past few weeks and have been pleased with the results. I had three of these on show in Ormston House recently and I have finished four paintings since that I’m pretty excited about. The reworking of these paintings has allowed me to retain an element of the relationship I had with my work before my solo exhibition. This has been important as I seek to merge some new directions with the best elements of the LCGA paintings. I feel I now have a much better understanding of each work as I’m making it, but also of my practice as a whole. I am more ruthless now than I have been in the past and I’m not afraid to destroy a good painting in the pursuit of a better one. While I don’t believe I have ever been shy of making an intervention in my paintings, I feel it is an avenue I am now more likely to frequent. I feel less restrained and I’ve much less fear of destroying a painting. If a painting is destroyed, it’s destroyed - I’m trying to be less precious these days. If there’s a chance you can improve a painting I think you have to take it. In May 2013 I’m showing work in Hillsboro Fine Art as part of a three-person show with Bennie Reilly and George Warren, so hopefully the work will keep progressing and the exhibition will be a success. AF: What books are on your studio table at the moment? SG: I recently read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and I’m currently reading Chrome Yellow, also by Huxley.
The studio has 24-hour access, which is very important, as our members tend to work at different times. We have a quite a large kitchen area as well, which is great for those who wish to cook or just want somewhere to hang out. The atmosphere is very good and it strikes a nice balance between work and social interaction. Our past members are worth familiarising yourself with if considering looking for a studio space. Many past members have gone on to pursue MFAs and Emmet Kierans is studying for a PhD in London. Others have gone on to have successful solo exhibitions, curate exhibitions, and have been awarded major residencies. Our current crop of artists are picking up where their predecessors left off so it all bodes well for the future.
Left: Sean Guinan, in his studio at Wickham Street Studios
Aoife Flynn: You’ve been a member of WSS from the beginning, can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved and how the studio has developed since you joined? Gerry Davis: It was good timing for me as I was just about to graduate at the time the studio was set up. And I was very eager to keep working straight after college. Word was going around 4th year about it at the time and I got in touch with Ramon for a space. The studio has gone from strength to strength since it began and, as it’s reputation for longevity grows, so does the enthusiasm and work ethic of new members. It has always kept an emphasis on the individuals responsibility to maintain his or her own studio practice and thus has all the pros and
Right: Gerry Davis, at Wickham Street Studios
cons of avoiding the collaborative nature of many other studios. The freedom to focus on one’s practice is very appealing to the members however and it seems Wickham St. strikes a balance between an overlyreclusive practice and a distractinglygregarious studio life.
established institutions of the city. It’s very uplifting to see one’s contemporaries begin to appear in publications etc. where once it was artists we had only learned about.
AF: What do you think about the artistic community in Limerick and how it’s developed in the past few years?
GD: At the moment I’m at an experimental stage of my work regarding process. I’ve always worked in a representational vein but am currently looking into ways to improve my technique in terms of both quality and speed. Hence my interest has grown on the process of painting and less on the subject matter, which has become quite free.
GD: I think Limerick has always been an amazing artistic city in proportion to its size. From the initial crop of artist-run spaces in the city when I first graduated, things have grown even further and instead of regressing, many of those studios and galleries have found promise of a long-lasting existence and have developed involvement with the
AF: Tell us a little bit about your current practice.
AF: Describe your work in three words. GD: Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice
WICKHAM STREET STUDIOS
WICKHAM STREET STUDIOS
Joan stack Aoife Flynn: As a recent graduate what has been your experience of WSS since joining the studio? Joan Stack: My experience so far of WSS has been amazing. I moved into the studios in June of this year, just a week after our Degree Show ended in LSAD. It was a really exciting time for me. I, along with Paul Quast and Eimear Redmond, had got in contact with Sean enquiring about spaces in Wickham Street. Once we had completed assessments and taken down our show we began to settle into life in a studio. It was great to have Paul and Eimear to move in with although we soon got to know everyone in Wickham! As a recent graduate I felt it was essential to find a studio space to continue my practice after my studies. I made the choice to remain in Limerick and I think it was a good decision. One of the best things about being in WSS is getting to know everyone there. It is a great environment in which to make work, if you ever need an opinion or a chat you can just wander up the stairs and find someone. Everyone learns from each other there and is willing to talk about their own work and practice. I have found it to be a really inspiring place since moving in. I remember, as a student in LSAD, walking around Limerick on Culture Night the last few years, I always looked forward to visiting Wickham as I thought the studios had great character and the work being made there was consistently interesting. On a practical level the spaces in Wickham are great. You don’t have to worry about keeping walls white, or about storing materials or paintings, there is lots of space. It’s a fun place; it was great being there on Culture Night and meeting the public as they toured our spaces, as well as chatting to the other studio members. I have settled in Wickham now and feel very much at home in the space. The energy in there is amazing, everyone is working on projects and towards exhibitions, so it is a busy and productive environment to find yourself in. AF: How do you find the Limerick art scene now as a practicing artist rather than a student?
I adapted a multidisciplinary approach to my practice. For the most part I am interested in the everyday. In my work, I pursue curiosities and examine ideas of the banal and imagination. Material for my research is found in a number of sources; from my own personal archive, to popular culture such as magazines, and in objects from the real world. My work deviates between 2D and 3D. Texts by J.L.Borges, Bachelard and Lefebvre inform my research. Cardboard is one material which dominates my thoughts of late. JS: As a student I found the art scene in Limerick really good. I regularly attended openings and other events in the city and became involved as an intern in Ormston House in my final year. As a student, I guess you are always managing a number of things at the same time, assessment, essays, thesis as well as studio. Time always seemed to be a finite resource. As a practicing artist, I feel things are a little different. Although you are still juggling a number of things, they are different. You are outside of your comfort zone; you very much make, and are in charge of your own plans. As well as keeping your studio active you have to manage the other side to your career, promoting your practice, submitting work for shows, organising statements and artist CVs etc. Being outside of the college environment has been a great learning experience so far. In terms of the Limerick art scene it has been extremely beneficial being a part of it. During the last year while working in Ormston House I have had the chance to meet and work with a number of really interesting artists. With each show I have continued to learn something different. I was also able to become involved with eva International throughout the summer months. Again, this was a fantastic learning opportunity. As well as volunteering as an exhibition invigilator, I got the opportunity to assist with Gracelands; the annual screening, sculpture and performance event curated by Vaari Claffey. In terms of exhibitions and being a practicing artist, there is always something happening in Limerick whether it’s in Occupy Space, Ormston House, LCGA, Faber Studios or The Belltable. In my opinion, the city has a truly vibrant art scene. AF: Tell us a little bit about your work, what are you currently working on? JS: My work is largely process based – it combines drawing, painting, collage, photography and installation. I studied painting in college and continue to make work with oil on canvas, but in my final year
My area of research from my final year has continued to be relevant in my new studio in Wickham Street. I feel that I have the time to assess work which I have carried out during the last twelve months as well as having the time to re-examine ideas which I want to develop further. I am currently developing a series of collages and small sculptures which will form part of an installation. I am really excited about this and I am enjoying the fabrication of the different elements. One of the most recent developments as part of this body of work has been the inclusion of my studio space in the Wickham Street Studio Depot exhibition in Ormston House. Although many of the collages were not included in this iteration of my space, it was an interesting challenge for me to try and recreate my making environment in a different setting. AF: You have recently been awarded a studio residency at IMMA, how do you think this will affect your work? Will you be leaving Limerick for good? JS: The IMMA Residency is a wonderful opportunity and one that I am very much looking forward to. I will begin the residency in March 2013 and in terms of my work I think it will affect it in a number of ways, hopefully all good. I intend to use the residency as a time to re-assess my position with regards the direction of my work. I am very much intent on gaining a new perspective and I see this as an opportunity to engage with a different city and a different audience. In terms of the making of physical artwork in IMMA, I plan to limit myself to certain materials for the duration of the residency. I want Dublin to provide me with as much of my source material as possible. Upon the completion of the residency I intend to put the work towards a solo exhibition, of which I am still in the planning process. As regards to leaving Limerick, I hope to next year, as I would like to travel and research some international residency programmes before considering an MFA. Left: Joan Stack, at work in Wickham Street Studios
PAUL QUAST Aoife Flynn: As a recent graduate, what has been your experience of WSS since joining the studio? Paul Quast: Since joining Wickham, I have enjoyed a larger degree of freedom of expression associated with being an emerging artist as opposed to an undergraduate. While I was an undergraduate, I had always had an inkling in the back of my head that attempted to convince me to relate my work in some way to the painting discipline. Although I know now that this suggestion was just my own doubt and not that of the painting department, I now possess the freedom to pursue pure sculptural and installation works in my practice. I am not saying that I am never going to paint again, but for now it feels like Wickham has opened more anxiety-free doors for my work to progress in these specific fields of interest. I have also enjoyed the freedom of not having to worry about the many crazy health and safety rules infringing on my practice. While the college is very encouraging of a developing practice, certain aspects of some health and safety regulations were detrimental to my work ethic. Having been chased around the college by health and safety on a weekly basis for obstruction and electrical violations, I can honestly say that I enjoy the freedom to create in Wickham without the constant worry of having to be tidy and conform to some blatantly deficient rules. I find that Wickham encourages creativity by any means necessary and I have personally benefited from this freedom of expression since joining the studio. AF: How do you find the Limerick art scene now as a practicing artist rather than a student?
PQ: Since finishing college, I have found the Limerick art scene to be bigger than I had previously thought. I find that there exists many more opportunities once you have a degree under your belt and this has been of tremendous benefit when applying for exhibitions in Limerick and beyond. Thus far, Limerick has a great reputation in the visual arts with both artists and organisations and I hope to contribute to this art scene further. From simply viewing the Wickham Street Studio-Occupy Space-Occupy Paper model, I find it amazing to see how one creative idea spawns another and how this is able to then flourish in Limerick. Furthermore, I have also discovered that the Limerick art scene is more integrated than I had previously thought with the rest of the Irish art scene and that this web of Limerick artists stretches further than the island of Ireland. From reading exhibition press releases from foreign shows, many Limerick names that I have known for years stand out and I am hoping this web will further expand and benefit Limerick as a creative city in the future. AF: You recently showed some work in the NLA III exhibition in IMOCA, was this an important show for your work? Tell us a little bit about your work. PQ: I thought that NLA III was an amazing opportunity for my practice since I had just graduated months prior. I think it is great that Wickham Street Studios has had such a distinctive affiliation with the New Living Art exhibitions thus far and I was happy to be able to contribute to this IMOCA exhibition. The exhibition has also allowed me to expand further into the Dublin art scene and gauge the Irish art scene as a whole as well as work with the nice folks from Tactic Gallery.
My practice is hinged on the recession, money mechanics, the declining building trade, the population’s zeitgeist and the generation of waste that is saturated in post-boom cultural identity. I enjoy creating work around these themes due to my former job as an assistant electrician on both prior and post-boom building sites. My practice is currently split into two sections, one dealing with architectural constructs out of pallet wood, the other being an exploration of the idea of ‘success’ within the zeitgeist using appropriated consumerist products to do so. Thus far, my work has been well received and I hope to develop my practice further with experiences such as NLA III. AF: What are you currently reading? PQ: My current reading list is not very art related to say the least. After this year’s eva International, I felt compelled to read Franco Berardi’s ‘After the Future’ as it related directly to the work I was pursuing. Other than that, I have been reading a few architecture books to inform my work and briefly through engineering, puzzle design and physics books to help create the wooden structures and other works. I still enjoy reading books pertaining to the art market such as ‘Imaginary Economics’ but my reading list has been more so centralized around the practicalities of my practice to date. The last book I read for amusement was titled ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit man’, by John Perkins. This book was a very interesting read and pertained to conspiracies, debt-driven invasions and corporatocracy. Right: Installation Shot, Wickham Street Depot Exhibition, 2012, Ormston House, Limerick
WICKHAM STREET STUDIOS
dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA dOCUMENTA
“so, how was your trip to Europe?”
… I agree now, that it would have been much more rewarding to drift through, relishing encounters along the way than frantically planning and cherry-picking and still finding that I had somehow missed all the must-sees. dOCUMENTA (13) is all but a distant memory now. If you were lucky enough to reside in Kassel for the long-term this summer, the 100 day dOCUMENTA pass may have represented your only real chance of comfortably soaking-up a meaningful experience of the 100 day multi-venue art extravaganza. Though with outposts situated in Alexandria, Kabul and Banff, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev - artistic director of d(13) - thoroughly destabilised the notion of a site-specific exhibition experience and ensured that all but the most privileged/ adventurous of art tourists (and let’s face it – no one) would have any likelihood of seeing all that was on offer of being seen. Knowing this should have removed some of the pressure that comes with such competitive cultural consumption, though the responsibility to ‘make the most’ of the few days most visitors could afford themselves often tipped the experiential balance towards the panicky end of the scale. Personally (despite the phenomenal quality of work in evidence), I was left jaded by the scale and scope of Europe’s greatest über-exhibition; feeling as though I had been run-over by the double-decker of cultural zeitgeist which I had been running to catch up with in the first place. Like
a trauma blocked by my subconscious I couldn’t accurately recall the experience immediately after the visit. A collection of ticket stubs, photographs and art ephemera proved that I had, indeed been there; but with my memories mediated by these mere pieces of paper and digital files what would I report back with? Had I done it right? And just what constitutes a meaningful biennial1 experience anyway? - With so much to see (How long is this film? What time’s my flight? Where can I get an espresso?) - How do we cope? (Which map is best? Do I need all 100 supplementary texts?) -We can take things away -We can recollect In as many ways as the experience of a large scale exhibition could take its toll on your health, the curators had made sympathetic provisions to counter this: A sub-plot of visitor-care emerged over time, bringing a holistic sense of unity to the jam-packed programming. Kassel venues swarmed with visitors but thoughtfully curated spaces meant that the many myriad works were given ample space to be digested by the eager audience. Wall labels were refreshingly sparse, with some thoughtfully selected pieces garnished with additional background information.
I use the word ‘biennial’ loosely here as shorthand for recurring, large-scale exhibitions of contemporary art of this type. (dOCUMENTA takes place every five years as opposed to bi-annually). 1
Such curatorial consideration evidently seeped into the presentation of the d(13) publications and supplementary information, which somehow maintained an equilibrium between quantity and digestibility - not an easy task considering that it must be necessary with an exhibition of such complex scope to represent the research and interpretation which had informed and accompanied it. The catalogue was broken down into three almost-digestible volumes: the Logbook and Guidebook sections helped make navigation of the exhibition manageable (and, perhaps most helpfully, provided a practical manner of killing time in the omnipresent queues). These texts were take-it-or-leave-it, open-ended resources, and otherwise the exhibition was notably and refreshingly free of interpretative texts - allowing the work a minimally-adulterated visual space in which to operate. Many opportunities presented themselves to ease the weary viewer gently away from immanent art-fatigue; sensory experiences such as the thrumming a cappella rhythms, clicks and harmonies of Tino Sehgal’s immersive aural installation in a darkened room: ‘This Variation’ felt like the temporal equivalent of an Indian head massage inside a flotation chamber- a welcome chance not to have to look at anything. Other means of holistic anti-art-fatigue care included Stuart Ringholt’s anger-management sessions, Pedro Reyes’ Sanatorium in Karlsrue Park, and the ample provisions of the unique Korbinian Apple juice produced by Christov-Bakargiev in collaboration with Jimmie Durham, which proved both spiritually nourishing and physically sustaining!
Despite the thoughtful best efforts of curators, opposing forces can threaten to unsettle or unhinge the contemporary art tourist (the desire to experience as much of the show as possible versus the pressure of impossible time constraints) from the sanctity of their cultural pilgrimage. The resultant dichotomy lies between viewing the work in the ‘appropriate manner (i.e. giving time to it) versus an inbuilt time-saving filter which, I suspect, lies within most art-lovers. This, in turn becomes manifest in somewhat inappropriate ‘coping mechanisms’ displayed in the kind of time-saving, frowned-upon gallery behaviour which you might not expect from an art-literate crowd (photographing wall labels, scanning rooms in under 30seconds, twitchily flitting eyes moving from slow-moving video work to wristwatch, munching provisions in the hidden-corner of an installation and power-napping in the warm, dark huts of the Karlsrue where video works were being screened). As corneal muscles and feet began to tire and hunger and dehydration overcame, it was tempting to jump on the massive passive art-consumption bandwagon: clutching for paper ephemera and blurry shots as takeaway ‘experiences’ that could be stored up for later. Nowhere was this phenomenon more self-evident than in Ida Appelbroog’s installation at the Fridericianum I SEE BY YOUR FINGERNAILS THAT YOU ARE MY BROTHER, (1969-2011). Appelbroog presented stack upon stack of folded opuscula: reproductions of the artist’s deeply personal and cathartic drawings and texts which also adorned the walls of the room. The delicate papers were displayed in newspaper racks emblazoned with ‘FREE-
There was no Coca-Cola on sale at d(13)’s official kiosks: among the organic, locally-sourced food you would find the altogether more wholesome Korbinian Apple juice. The refreshing, cloudy apple juice (Apfelsaft!) was produced by Christov-Bakargiev and Jimmie Durham in tribute to Korbinian Aigner (1885-1966), the Bavarian priest, political activist and apple grower who developed the varietal KZ3 (from which the juice was pressed) whilst imprisoned at Dachau for opposing Nazism. The apples took their original title from the German abbreviation for concentration camp (Konzentrationslager) but have since been re-named in his honour.
TAKE ONE’ - and take, they did. On first entering the room, the immediate effect of the work was that the crude and frightening mix of sex, swearing, sloganeering and fragile line-drawing appeared blasé about its confrontational tone, eliciting awkward laughs and a thorough misapprehension of its content. However, these works voiced the personal hell of an individual’s most intimate privacy, so to see them crudely clutched and grabbed at by an audience eager for a souvenir was an unsettling experience. Though, on the other hand it seemed that Applebroog was effectively exorcising her demons by way of this unceremonious mass consumption. The official subtitle for d(13): The dance was very frenetic, lively, rattling, clanging, rolling, contorted, and lasted for a long time reiterates a hesitance on the part of the directors to tie the exhibition down or to tidy it up for our easy-consumption. Because d(13) sidestepped a tidy thematic concept it necessarily resisted the burden of being read in a linear fashion; the onus of tapas-like dipping-in, or excessive over-consumption is left entirely to the visitor’s own self-control. So, what do we hope to take away from these experiences of mass art-tourism if it is not sanely practicable or healthy to receive art in such a gluttonous fashion? The suggestion that such an epic exhibition can be dippedinto like a tasting-platter is a compelling one, but learned experience has taught us how difficult it can be to evince self-control when faced with such a feast. The learnedlesson which emerged when re-examining what d(13) eventually did mean to me had less to do with what I had missed than with why I felt I had missed it. After a Grand Tour of the present-day art world, what will our contemporary cabinets of curiosity say about us? And what will we do to prevent the souvenirs we keep from crossing the line from aide-memoir to experience substitute?
Previous Page: A visitor photographing all 36 of Etel Adnan’s “Untitled” (19592010) canvases; Installation view, Documenta Halle
Kate Andrews is an Edinburgh-based writer and founder of ‘JaAliceKlarr projects’; a cross-disciplinary curatorial collaboration which has realised visual arts projects including Shelflife: A biblio-Sideshow for the Edinburgh Art Festival and Neue Kunstaus Schottland: Self-Made Cavalcade at the Akademie Galerie, Munich. She has recently worked as Assistant Producer on Craig Coulthard’s Forest Pitch project (a part of the London 2012 festival and Cultural Olympiad ) and as an arts writer for Scotland’s largest culture and listings magazine, The Skinny.
Above: Ida Applebroog ‘I SEE BY YOUR FINGERNAILS THAT YOU ARE MY BROTHER, 1969-2011’ Installation view Right: Ida Applebroog ‘I SEE BY YOUR FINGERNAILS THAT YOU ARE MY BROTHER, 1969-2011’ Installation view
The souvenir is effectively an artificial construct of the memory, projected onto an object allowing it to function as metonym to its origin. It requires removal from the place or moment in time which it represents in order to generate the sense of desire and longing which contribute to its evocative power. The accumulation of such objects is essentially a lighthearted but instinctual gesture: a celebration of personal significance
Souvenirs are bound intrinsically to the experience of nostalgia. Abiding within the discourse of memory and personal history, souvenir objects work to trigger a yearning for an absent event or environment from the proprietors past. In order to bolster these positive or important experiences in our memories we seek to transfer them into tangible form.
Human beings are constantly negotiating and re-evaluating our world by thinking ‘through’ objects and their connotations. As a common psychological tendency we endeavour to concretise thought and grasp the ephemeral by way of materialising it. Souvenirs as such exist for us as abstracts of
and the desire to generate autobiography. Souvenirs are important indicators of self-perception and a means of public-projection. Our desire to fill the space around ourselves with souvenirs acting as metonymic portals to particular nuggets of personal history serves not only to quell our fear of forgetting, but our fear of eventually being forgotten ourselves. A souvenir embodies a sense of nostalgia for our own passing lives1.
A man is walking down the street when he bumps into a friend: “so how was your trip to Europe?” says the friend; “I don’t know” comes the reply; “I haven’t developed my photos yet…”
the significant or spectacular experiences we wish to present to others.
lived experience represented in material form. The instinct to grasp at transient moments in this way seems to signify a struggle with the passing of time, and is a means of reasserting our personal significance in the world; of claiming ‘I was here’.
The word souvenir comes from the literal French for ‘the act of remembering’ whereas nostalgia’s etymology lies in the yearning or longing for that which has passed or is irrecoverable. The term nostalgia was coined in the Seventeenth Century to designate the melancholy experienced by homesick exiles and soldiers and was treated as a medical condition, the symptoms of which were triggered by associations of the memory - for these travellers, a souvenir from their distant home could easily provoke a bout of crippling nostalgia.
Many of us will have a collection of miscellaneous mundane or exotic items which to anyone else might elicit little more than a cursory glance but which to ourselves can conjure up a significant memory from our past which we desire to hold onto, own or commemorate; preserving that particular instant in an eternal stasis. As a marker of our own personal history; our hoards become domestic monuments to
In ‘On longing: narratives of the miniature, the gigantic, the souvenir, the collection’, Susan Stewart asserts that the yearning we experience when our memories are triggered by an associative object lies in the promise of a reunion between object and experience; The primary function of the souvenir is to summon the nostalgia that lies in the gap between the two. This false promise of reconciliation perpetuates the souvenir as a signifier of absence and loss: an impotent object and a fickle fraud of memory. Kate Andrews
Pop-up spaces are, by their very nature, transient. When Occupy Space came into existence it was intended to be a three month project. Three years later the project is still ongoing. In June of this year Occupy was forced to vacate its premises, the letting agent had finally found a tenant, but thanks to the generosity of Limerick arts spaces and with a little creative thinking, the directors have kept the project alive. Here Aoife Flynn talks to Co-Directors Noelle Collins and Orlaith Treacy about Occupyâ€™s off-site activities and the future of the space.
Aoife Flynn: Hi guys. The words “crisis” and “opportunity” are always used in the context of artist-led ”pop-up” spaces, they’re the kind of words that were originally used to describe Occupy Space. Interestingly now they’re taking on a new meaning in regards to the loss of the space earlier this year. So how have the past few months been, planning the programme around not having the space and, amongst the initial crisis, what kinds of opportunities have arisen for you? Noelle Collins: Immediately after the move we wanted to emphasise the importance of Occupy Space as an organisation, a group of people as opposed to just a physical space. Rather than mourning the loss of the exhibition space we wanted to continue our programme and maintain activity within the city. Essentially we aim to create opportunities for artists and audience, that is why we exist as an organisation so we wanted to prioritise any commitments we had made in terms of exhibitions with artists and upcoming projects with curators.
Closing the doors of the Thomas Street gallery opened up a discussion about the future of Occupy Space, it also brought about the opportunity to work with both new and established art spaces within the city. Local artists, curators and directors of spaces came
We aim to create opportunities for artists and audience, that is why we exist as an organisation
to the gallery to talk to us about the imminent closure,offering advice and in some cases proposing future projects. Our local Arts Officer Sheila Deegan launched a rescue mission for Common Place- an exhibition of
works by American artists Pamela Valfer and Allen Brewer scheduled for June 2012. With the support of Limerick City Council we were able to secure Istabraq Hall as a new venue, reschedule their flights and exhibit their work to new audiences. Kevin O’Keeffe was my Co-Director at the time, and operating a large not-for-profit exhibition space on a small budget with 100% voluntary staff is challenging but at that moment of crisis we were overwhelmed by the level of support we received. Members of the Limerick Printmakers, Raggle Taggle, Faber Studios, Contact Studios and Wickham Street Studios offered help, giving their time and energy to help us move out. That sense of solidarity and community was reflected in the generosity of many venues within the city, we have worked with The Belltable Arts Centre on a few occasions (including the relaunch of Occupy Paper) and Helen Carey, Curator/Director of Limerick City Gallery of Art invited us to create a six week project for the first floor of LCGA, an unexpected but highly significant opportunity for us.
Our recent programme of exhibitions and events had been outlined in an application to the Arts Council for Project Award funding was successful, and in a bizarre twist of fate we received the offer letter a couple of weeks after the gallery closed. We explained our situation to the Arts Council and outlined how we would deliver the programme and they were very understanding. We are quite busy at the moment organising exhibitions and venues and we are really looking forward to working with Mary Conlon, Curator/Director of Ormston House and her team to present a solo exhibition by Tadhg Ó Cuirrín in May. AF: Orlaith, coming on board as a new director, you’ve brought new energy to the gallery’s programme, I’m talking specifically about the un_noted sessions that are highlighting a need among Limerick artists for seminars focused on professional practice. Do you see this as relating to a broader professionalisation of artist’s practice, more artists going on to do MAs and PhDs for example?
Orlaith Treacy: Absolutely, visual art has become a very competitive area and it has become necessary to professionalise artist’s practice to promote it further. As a recent graduate I was aware of the gap in visual art education when it came to professional development and began working towards setting up professional development workshops with Occupy Space. I then learned that two other recent graduates Alicia Lydon and Aimée Lally had been thinking of setting up similar workshops and we began to work together. We knew from experience how essential it is to have the knowledge and skills needed to write a proposal or to apply for an MA or bursary for example and so made these some of our essential topics. We invited local and national guest lecturers such as Michele Horrigan Curator of the Belltable, Maeve Mulrennan, Visual Arts Officer for Galway Arts Centre and Dobz O’Brien, Director of The National Sculpture Factory, who are knowledgeable in these areas and vibrant speakers and they gave some great workshops. We kept the workshops to a
format which allowed for as much group interaction as possible creating a platform for people to discuss with each other their issues, exchange information and meet other artists. As Occupy Space had at that stage moved out of the Thomas St. premises the workshops were kindly hosted by The Belltable Arts Centre for the month of October and Ormston House for November. Since the workshops have finished there has been a lot of interest to see them continue which has been great. They have highlighted the fact that there needs to be better education in this area and there is a strong interest amongst artists. I think that this move towards professionalisation is not only because of how competitive an area visual art has become, I think artists are also striving to be recognised as professionals by the general public. It is a sad reality that a lot of artists have to avail of social welfare, as Irish Times writer Patrick Freyne called it “the other arts council”, and unfortunately being an artist is not recognised as a profession.
Previous Page: Installation shots from ‘I see a Viewfinder’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2012 Far Left Top: Installation shots from Occupy Space ‘Active Archives’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2012 Far Left Bottom: Installation shots from ‘I see a Viewfinder’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2012 Middle: Installation shots from Occupy Space ‘Active Archives’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2012 Left: Installation shots from ‘I see a Viewfinder’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2012
Left: Installation shots from ‘I see a Viewfinder’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2012 Right: Installation shots from Occupy Space ‘Active Archives’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2012
More artists are doing MA’s and PHD’s to improve their level of professionalism and build a stronger education in visual art to strengthen their practice. But in this financial climate going on to further education is expensive and it may no longer be feasible for a lot of people. I think the way forward is to gain experience by working as an artist creating work and applying for shows first and, if you want to go on to further education, carefully selecting the right MA or PHD by doing research on the college and tutors and by being aware of what you want to gain from doing a particular course. Another option is to gain experience through volunteering and interning with galleries and art organisations. You can pick up a lot of education in important areas such as installing work, applying for open submission, writing proposals and applying for funding. It is also great for meeting other artists, curators and directors of galleries and art organisations creating a network of people to call on for advise and information. AF: Graduates coming into an already established organization like Occupy is a great way for young artists to learn new skills and professionalise their practice. What are your plans for recruiting new members? Do you see the structure of the organization developing in the future along the lines of Catalyst where members agree to a fixed two year directorship, or do you see it as a more free-flowing entity?
OT: Our plan is to have a two year directorship but I don’t think it will be as fixed as the Catalyst model. In their situation you apply to be a director whereas in our case you start out as a volunteer if you are reliable, hardworking and have a strong interest in what we are doing we then give more responsibility and you work your way up. NC: We encourage students, graduates and artists to get involved with us, we are always open to taking people on board and so far the structure has worked quite well. It’s a beneficial experience for people interested in arts administration, curation, exhibition/event planning or installation work. The exposure to submissions, proposals and statements can also help early-career artists to develop a more professional visual arts practice. There are many key areas in which to gain experience such as curating and installing exhibitions, contacting artists and curators, writing press releases, organising talks and workshops, public speaking, preparing funding applications or managing an online presence... but as Orlaith mentioned it’s a series of small steps and it normally starts off with a nice spot of invigilation. AF: What are the future plans for Occupy Space? Is there a possibility of new premises on the horizon? OT: At the moment we are working on a new development called H-Q. Noelle and
I are working with artist Gemma Gore and we are planning to set up a creative hub that will have a gallery space, studios and more professional facilities for artists. We also want to set up a residency for national and international artists to come and make work in Limerick City. We have gotten some workspace funding for setting this up, we are just looking into securing a building for it at the moment. NC: It is easier to be identified as an organisation or an active part of the arts community when you have a physical premises, maintaining a presence has been challenging but it has also given us a certain freedom or flexibility, an opportunity to consider how we might continue to function and to establish a more resilient working model. H-Q has developed out of those thought processes and in the last six months we have been researching projects that combine project/exhibition space with studios. There are still a number of vacant premises within the city and we are working toward developing H-Q as a long-term facility rather than a ‘pop-up’ project. In terms of upcoming Occupy Space activity we are working on an exhibition with Stag & Deer pencilled-in for April so plenty to keep us busy.
RELECTIVE PRACTICE Submissions writings
EVITCELER ECITCARP missionsbuS writings
The word reflection can relate to countless potential planes of existence. It can be read as a place which at once is both real and unreal. It is this platform in between that allows us to re-examine ourselves, our opinions and our art, and to propel them forward; this real, contemplative space where unreal things can be achieved and mastered. Reflective practice; as a form of selfanalysis or critique of oneâ€™s creative working process, is an important means of developing an intimate understanding of the work itself. Allowing for a meditative review of the artistâ€™s chosen processes and methodologies, this system of documentation and analysis is integral to the development of practice in terms of progressive evaluation and self-awareness.
The theme of reflective practice allows for an emotional link that can connect artists, writers and readers without ever previously having met or experienced one anotherâ€™s practices. It is not a literal narration but rather a humane one. Self-reflection leaves you vulnerable and open to criticism, but equally open to praise. Online blogs, written journals, sketchbooks and digitally recorded logs are popular outlets for on-going reflective documentation and Occupy Paper are interested in uncovering contemporary examples of these. With the intent of highlighting the various reflective techniques employed by artists, writers and innovators we sent out an open call for examples of reflective practices. The following is a compilation of selected submissions from the call:
Brian Kielt is a visual artist based in Belfast and Derry. He received his BA (Hons) in Fine and Applied Art from the University of Ulster in 2010. Recent exhibitions include Muse Gallery Bash (Belfast, 2012/2013), Loft Group Exhibition (Belfast, 2012). His work is a medley of personal imagery, historical and cultural references and his developed drawings. Drawings are paramount to his part of his practice.
Michael Fitzgerald took a BFA from the National College of Art and Design (IRL) in 2012. Recent group exhibitions include Repetition (Cross Gallery, Dublin, 2013), IRL (Atelier de la Ville en Bois, Nantes, 2012), Claremorris Open Exhibition (Claremorris, Mayo, 2012) and Gracelands (EVA Limerick, 2012). Writing has always been of central importance as a reflective, investigative tool in the production of FitzGeraldâ€™s work.
Sarah Eva Manson is a recent graduate of NCAD with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, specialising in Printmaking. Her work has been selected for exhibitions in Dublin, Galway, Donegal, Berlin and Beijing. Using a variety of traditional and non-traditional printmaking techniques such as stone lithography, copper etch plates, silk screen and mixed media; her work takes a critical view of social and economical transitory states of mind.
Sue Rainsford is a writer based in Dublin. Her practice is concerned with the life of the mind, documenting daily experience on both a literal and intangible level. Using response as artwork Rainsford is influenced by the writings of Georges Perec, phenomenological theory, and the (subversive) role of psychoanalysis in contemporary art practice. Her writing takes the form of prose, poetry, essay and experimental response.
Miya Ando is a half-Japanese, halfRussian artist whose work focuses on the transformation of surfaces and expressions of the sublime through the mediums of metal and light. Influences include meditation, nature, geometry and the ethos and aesthetics of Zen Reductivism. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, including a recent group show at Sundaram Tagore Gallery in New York where she currently resides.
Vlado StjepiĂŠ completed both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. In 1999 he received a Prize at the 1st International Biennial of New Watercolour in Kleinsassen in Germany and in 2006 Grand prix at the 7th Slovenian Biennial of Town Kranj. He is a freelance artist based in Ljubljana where he works with drawing and photography.
Brian Kielt Thursday 7th June 2012 (highlighting notes taken from reflective diary from Oct 2011 to June 2011.)
I am not a realist painter, so do not approach the canvas as such. In Celtic mythology, the head is seen as the centre of spiritual power (the soul) and a person’s most valuable asset. 2 dimensional characters are a no-no in any story or painting (not in the physical sense). For a painting the figure’s reasoning for merely existing on the canvas has to be more complex. I feel that ideas of complexity have come from my reading of Milton. Keep it simple.... (slightly contradicting an earlier point) Not every piece is going to work. Art is an ever shifting learning curve that should never level out. If it does, then it’s time to quit. Art is worthwhile through both the positive and negative. We gain everything by the experience as a whole but if you focus on one aspect and ignore the other, then you gain nothing at all.
Monday 25th June 2012 (hightlights of notes written between 15/6/12 - 24/6/12)
Family Motto: fructu cognoscitur arbor (Latin meaning The fruit of a tree is known.) Interesting and disturbing imagery. What makes it disturbing though? I can relate to the image. That is why it works. It is not forced. The trick now may be to juxtapose imagery (that have nothing in common except that I can relate to them) to form a narrative that, not shocks, but makes the viewer question what they are seeing and why they are seeing it.
Right: From the notebooks of Brian Kielt Next Page: From the notebooks of Brian Kielt
Sue Rainsford My skin starts boiling early in the day. It has a hot, thumb pressing texture to it and makes me think of closed eyes and quick breaths and lemon juice. Things made stringent, made for healing. I have only a short time to write something down – there is a shudder building, launching with a muscular foot from a ledge my hip provides, and swimming with full kicks to enlarge and sit and wait. Behind breasts, behind lungs, and I am so unhappy and in such terrible form with my senses. They run to me with constant need – with dust floating, with breezes likes blankets; I would build them up like a dam to render before abandoning the sucking of stones and laying of one ankle over its pair.
Sound first, my body would forget sound, an ocean’s worth of hush. Then taste, having licked walls of silence made my tongue, again in its socket, telling me it is all truly gone. No more touch, no cautious or accidental feeling, no jumps at the cold or judging a thing by its weight. Scent, gone, and with it nostalgia, sudden memories of sun cream and onions browning or rubbish waiting to be collected baking in another day of summer. And then sight, once I was poised to write, and then I would write and write every thought now given its frail moment alone. Time too I would have to remove, and space. Never mind I am now incapable of perceiving them still I know them to be
impinging on my outline of a body. If the body could be taken too; such a long exhale, such a gentle expiry, like rolling onto one’s side and achieving what seems then the highest peak of comfort, wishing one never had to move again and knowing it could be so that you could exist thus held, and feel only this, and on and on my thoughts would go, and I would have all the time needed. Time and words, words left alone. And then after, braced again, for mouths and pages marked and storms.
Michael Fitzgerald Below: Michael FitzGerald, ‘Grandfather Nelson’
Below Right: Michael FitzGerald, untitled image
A Materially Engaged Conceptualism I am a maker of objects. Recently I have been doing a variety of funny things to MDF, twisting it, shaping it, staining it, trying to coax something new out of a drab material. However, I have always felt that in my own practice, I am not really present at the crucial moments of the workâ€™s fabrication. I am in some way absent; swallowed up in the struggle with the medium, frustrated, breathless, feeling/seeing nothing but red. I see this in the work of many painters. Attempting to stand back from the canvas, or leave the studio for a cup of tea, we are procrastinating. When we return and reengage, we will once again be involved in a struggle with matter and once again
make marks without intending to, scratch down textures, block in whole sections in milliseconds. Today most painters and object makers, who are worth their salt, have no say in this; forgetting oneself at certain junctures is integral to many practices/to the practice. I am attempting to locate the points at which the conceptual, contemplative and creative modes of thinking enter into my practice. Certainly when those first, dreamy visions of a work drift into my head and whilst drawing and planning, brainstorming related ideas connections are made. All this is exciting and activates the imagination. Then there is the preparation which is cold and methodical and the act of making, which is largely forgotten, is now a blur.
Only after the act, when the physicality of it is tangible and the result is curled up on the floor or pinned to the wall, only at these moments of retrospection can this sort of materially-engaged practice progress. At these moments when it is contemplative while maintaining an experiential connection to the stuff, the dumb matter, through which it communicates. I have been videoing myself lately, as I struggle through these instinctual and fleeting moments of creative activity. Looking back over the tapes, I feel separate to the person onscreen. I do not even remember doing the things he is doing. I feel I can learn a lot from watching him.
I think the practice of art is truly of practice; of connecting the hands, head and heart (or kokoro as I think of it)- when these three things are working together, you have your practice. My approach has always been to refine my focus. I think of the practice of art as a meditative one; a walking meditation. A form of total concentration or Mushin (some people call it also Samadhi in the Buddhist
world). Regardless of one’s denominational background, I think the notion of total absorption in a task to transcend the sense of self or one’s own ego is an approach and experience many artists have. I was raised for part of my upbringing in Asia and so this eastern concept has remained with me and my philosophy towards the making of art. Themes in my work include transcendence
and transformation; transcending the self, transcending boundaries; transformation of the self, transformation of materials and surfaces. My approach to the making of these works is likewise transformative. I regard my practice as one of a ‘walking or moving meditation’.
Next Page, Clockwise from Top Left: Title: meditation black Material: pigment, phosphorescence, aluminum, resin Date: 2013 Size: 24” x 24”;
Title: transformation blue green Material: aluminum, pigment, phosphorescence, resin Date: 2013 Size: 24” x 24”;
Title: meditation moon gold Material: 23 karat gold, pigment, phosphorescence, acrylic, resin Date: 2013 Size: 24” x 24;
Title: akagane kumo [copper cloud] Size: 48” x 48” Medium: copper, pigment, lacquer Date: 2013
SARAH EVA Manson
Below Left: From the notebooks of Sarah Eva Manson, mixed media Below Right: From the notebooks of Sarah Eva Manson, mixed media
Vlado Stjepié To paint
…The beginning of work on a painting is the beginning of searching, experimentation with options, questioning and seeking answers. The painting is turning into an open field of possibilities, a place where nothing is impossible. There is no shame, no fear. There is no calculation. The canvas influences me like a second body, and during the process of painting
models. As the work on the painting progresses, conscious control gradually retreats, chased away by the onslaught of subconscious contents, allowing no subsequent articulation, while their apparent inarticulateness provides suggestiveness and power. The approach is frontal and total: I work on the entire canvas at once. In this play
a kind of spiritual and corporal fusion, an erotic relationship occurs. The first contact with the surface is like the touch of skin; at the beginning somewhat unsure and awkward, later becoming increasingly forceful, lusty and possessive. The inner tension, the pressing need
I am simultaneously within and without the painting, creating and destroying the dualism
for a rapid actualization − keen and energetic, at times anarchic and destructive – brooks no preconceived ideas and
of man. I vibrate. I apply the paint with my hands, smearing it and drenching it with water; it drips, flows, pulsates, lives. The process gradually becomes completely open, uncontrolled, chaotic, almost hypnotic. The elements of painting are being embodied,
one could say through a natural process. They are being born, resuscitated and they finally disappear. The paint (earth) and the water are mixed, producing mud in which the body wallows, slides, slithers, creeps, and leaps. The edges, limitations and constraints are gone. Colors disappear; lines, contrasts, harmonies are no more. But all this takes place inside, in the play, in the state of potency. The accumulated layers on the body and soul are being purified, melting and vanishing like spring snow. This is the moment of communion, the sinking, the intertwining with one’s own dark depths, with the collective groundwork of existence and civilization. It is the entering into Hades. It is sacrifice…
Occupy PaPER issue eight © 2013 Occupy Space
The eighth edition of Occupy Space's Occupy Paper.