In all works of fiction there belies an agreement that the reader/the viewer will allow for a suspension of disbelief. In this exhibition I Am What You’ve Come To See, the artist Sonia Shiel has transformed the three gallery spaces into a circular narrative, casting the audience as its central protagonist. The viewer is compelled to move through the galleries by a series of scripted audio-visual instructions, strategic objects and obtuse props that feign seemingly ungovernable chances – in a shape-shifting journey that is entirely staged.
The use of text, stagings, props and painting are preoccupations in Shiel’s practice. These works are both performative and self-referential with the central narrative being an instructional conversation between the artwork and its maker. The paintings portray various landscape/natural elements and patterns, imprecise geometries, and translucent planes of colour and shape. Mimicking a digital landscape that encompasses both the archaeological and futuristic, the works have mobile components which, when activated, suggest how mysterious and magical qualities might influence the directions we take, even in the presence of intent.
Shiel’s expansive practice shifts us between the fantastical and the real and often refers to our impotency within world affairs while celebrating the notion of agency and our endeavours to affect change. Within this body of work she flips the hierarchy; the artworks assert control over the outcome and we become players within its stage.
Sonia Shiel is an Irish visual artist based in Dublin. She has had recent exhibitions and performances at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin; The Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Artbox, Dublin; The NCAD Gallery, Dublin; The Treeline Pavillion, Dublin; The Observatory,UCD, Dublin and The Crawford Gallery, Cork. Other selected exhibitions include Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin; Rua Red, Dublin; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Project Spaces, Dublin; the ISCP, New York; The Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin; The Cable Factory, Helsinki; Pallas Contemporary Projects, Dublin; The Model, Sligo; Atelier Frankfurter; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; the RHA Galleries I and II; Ormston House, Limerick; and the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, among others.
She has been the recipient of the Tony O’Malley Award from the Butler Gallery and the Hennessy Craig Award from the RHA. She has received a number of Bursary and Project Awards from The Arts Council; Culture Ireland; DLRCC; and the DCC. Her work features in several international, public and private collections, including the DLR Municipal Collection; the Arts Council of Ireland, the City of Frankfurt, the Glucksman Gallery and the Office of Public Works. She was Artist in Residence for Arts and Humanities, at the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD, Dublin from 2016-18. Other residencies and fellowships include the Art and Law Program, New York; the ISCP, New York; HIAP, Helsinki; The Kulturbunker, Frankfurt; Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin; and the Leighton Artists Studios Residency at The Banff Centre, Alberta.
Command Lines is a theatrical installation of sculpture, performance and animation by artist Candida Powell-Williams. The works re-imagine the iconic tarot as a three-dimensional experiment in symbolism, action, story-telling and magical thinking. Powell-William’s installation uses the term Command Lines to frame the exhibition, insinuating systems, networks and feedback loops, control over and order of information. Her work builds on the play between performance, technology and sculptures that act as props to her fantastical stage setting, calling into questions structures of reality.
Throughout the gallery there is a multitude of scales and forms of sculptures that determine how we interact with the works. At the centre point of the exhibition there are colourful stationary sculptural forms that are a chaotic shambles apparently poised, ready for action; the space punctuated with enlarged heavy, stationary symbols.
This main body of work acts as an anchor that feeds back and circumnavigates the works in the adjoining gallery spaces.
There are miniature scale versions of the same forms, ordered in 10 dioramas arranged as a Celtic cross tarot spread. The viewer is invited to peer into each proscenium discovering abstract forms, empty castles and temple-like structures, animal heads and frozen magician’s gloves. The tarot is stripped of its archetypal human imagery leaving a space to fill and pushing the symbolic to the fore.
An interactive ‘game’, answering the viewer’s question with a series of animations derived from the performance and accompanied by a poetic voice; these vignettes mix ballet and computing terminology which, rather than giving divinatory guidance, are in fact instructions for the performance. This leads the viewer back to the main gallery where the props and costumes are waiting, as though inviting the audience to pick them up and start configuring their own imaginative reading.
The elements of performance and the sculptural props repeat and mutate across the galleries. Block sculptural forms and symbols are echoed in different media (ceramics, Jesmonite, resin, embroidery, textiles, drawing, animation) and different scales (human size and miniature), flipping back and forth creating a repetitive, self-referential loop, experimenting with positive and negative space; past and present; stationary and moving; animate and inanimate; soft and hard. The range of materials and textures reference digital pixilated landscapes rendered in the physical with apparently dissolving edges, wobbly geometry and bear the intimacy of the handmade to explore the mutability of meaning as they come together in a cacophony of voices.
The project is a culmination of research and development during a residency at London’s Warburg Institute, exploring the endurance of esoteric ideas and the cultural heritage of tarot, archetypes and mutation of symbols. A longstanding interest in our attempts to navigate the ‘Absurd’ led Powell-William to consider mysticism within storytelling and its meeting point with the mundane materiality of objects.
Powell-Williams’ work is a response to researching the slippage that occurs between primary and secondary source material in relation to historical artefacts. By discarding the original source and reimagining objects as a product of their interpretation she explores the consequences of retelling history and how we construct identity through objects and memory. She manipulates historical narratives, plucking references from disparate eras, folding them into the present and condensing them into a singular experience.
Candida Powell-Williams graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 2011 and the Slade School of Fine Art London in 2009. Her sculptural and performance works are a response to researching the slippage that occurs between primary and secondary source material, exploring the consequences of retelling history and how we construct identity through objects and memory. She was recently Artist in Residence at The Warburg Institute London. Selected exhibitions include: Lessness, still quorum, performance, Serpentine Galleries, London (2018); Boredom and its Acid Touch, Frieze Live, London (2017); Tongue Town, Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo (2017); Cache, Art Night Associate Programme, London (2017); Vernacular History of the Golden Rhubarb, Bosse & Baum Gallery, London (2017); PIC performance festival, Melbourne, Australia (2016); Coade’s Elixir-an occupation, Hayward Gallery, London (2014). Powell-William’s is the recipient of the 2018 Mother Art Prize with a group show at Mimosa House London (2019). Other awards include the Sainsbury Scholarship at the British School at Rome (2012-13), the Paris Residency at Cite Internationale des Arts, (2010), Eric and Jean Cass Sculpture Award (2010-2011). In 2019 common-editions published Powell-William’s 78 card tarot deck and artist book.
There is now an expectation of visibility, from any place, at any time and by anyone.
– Sven Anderson & Gerard Byrne
A Visibility Matrix is an artwork that explores the politics and conditions of visibility. Initiated by Dublin-based artists and long-term collaborators, Sven Anderson and Gerard Byrne, A Visibility Matrix assembles contributions from a distributed panel of artists, film-makers and others within a synchronised, multi-channel video installation.
A Visibility Matrix emerges as a response to the ambitions of abandoned art and technology projects from the 1960s–1980s that prioritised multi-screen video projection, monitor arrays, communications networks and algorithmic composition principles. These projects explored visual excess and hyperstimulation prior to the development of the Internet, and before multi-screen video displays expanded into the vernacular backdrop of everyday public and private life. Considered now, the plural voices of these experiments in perception and communication simultaneously prophesise and bypass the homogenised conditions that have come to be accepted as network culture.
Exploring the paradigms of what we see and how we construct visual knowledge, A Visibility Matrix returns to the instincts of these projects. It proposes a condensed counterpoint to the migratory, hyper-networked nature of visibility in contemporary culture by conjuring an offline matrix of video material presented in the gallery space for communal observation. The artwork speculates on an alternative to the composite formed by subject + smartphone + online-video-sharing-platform that has come to represent the current standard of visibility. It gathers content through an associative network of collaborators including visual anthropologists, cinematographers, documentary filmmakers and others from across the globe. By shifting focus from the production of images for sharing online to their reception in a shared, fixed-time spatial context, A Visibility Matrix offers another window on visual excess, confronting its own situated spatiality in order to reflect the more universal conditions that it addresses.
A Visibility Matrix manifests as a network of screens and spatial gestures, in which we observe images being duplicated, mirrored and displaced. These gestures unfold over days and months of exhibition, pursuing both repetition and re-assembly. The system that determines these patterns reveals itself through its precision but also through moments of uncertainty, asserting its presence through a series of vocal cues that punctuate the relationship between the database of video and the space of exhibition. This system speculates on the possibilities of video not as passive image but as an active signal, and the gallery as a site of condensation; a shared space and a space of reflection.
A Visibility Matrix includes video material aggregated from a network of collaborators including:
Daniel & Marie Law Adams, Rosa Aiello, Matt Bakkom, Rosa Barba, Eric Baudelaire, Beat Detectives, John Beattie, Ericka Beckman, Maeve Brennan, Andreas Bunte, Duncan Campbell, Matija Debeljuh, Dennis Del Favero, Willie Doherty, Jeanette Doyle, Moritz Fehr, Diego Ferrari, Darko Fritz, Rene Gabri & Ayreen Anastas, Mariam Ghani & Chitra Ganesh, Ross Gibson, Judith Goddard, Jennie Guy, Louis Haugh, Kathy High, Klara Hobza, Jere Ikongio & Katja Kellerer, Ivan Marusic Klif, John Lalor, Charles Lim, Jeanne Liotta, Lovid, Hrvoje Mabic, Nicholas Mangan, Fiona Marron, Ed Mattiuzzi, Peter Maybury, Ronan McCrea, Conor McGarrigle, Toni Mestrovic, Abinadi Meza, Suzanne Mooney, Nadija Mustapic, Arnont Nongyao, Tadhg O’Sullivan, Dietmar Offenhuber, Matt Parker, Jack Phelan, Piyarat Piyapongwiwat, Jason Quinlan, Eugenia Raskopoulos, Lucy Raven, Ben Rivers, Karl Ingar Røys, Adam Sekuler, Craig Smith, Michael Bell Smith, Sean Snyder, Stephanie Spray, Danae Stratou, Daniel Von Sturmer, Jose Carlos Teixeira, Leslie Thornton, Gabriele Trapani, Sara Velas, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Grace Weir, Jeremy Welsh, Krzysztof Wodiczko and Tintin Wulia.
A Visibility Matrix was created under the editorial direction of Sven Anderson, Matthew Bakkom, Victoria Brooks, Gerard Byrne, Moritz Fehr, Igor Grubic, Dan Kidner, Nikos Papastergiadis und Oraib Toukan, and assembled with support from Louis Haugh and Fiona Marron.
A Visibility Matrix is an artwork formed through its infrastructure, system design and spatial permutations, which will continue to evolve as it moves from space to space. To date it has progressed through The Douglas Hyde Gallery (Dublin), Le Printemps de Septembre (Toulouse) and Secession (Vienna) before the current exhibition at Void.
A Visibility Matrix is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the British Council.
Sven Anderson (b. 1977) is an artist working between Ireland and the US since 2001. Anderson’s practice operates through installations, systems and performances that respond to details of the built environment, ubiquitous technological infrastructures, and fragments of local histories. Anderson’s projects incorporate methodologies premised on artist placements, shared authorship and long-term collaboration, often converging on forms articulated in public space. His public artworks The Manual for Acoustic Planning and Urban Sound Design (2013) and The Office for Common Sound (2016) probe the potential of the artist as urban planner and municipal resource. His permanent sound installation Continuous Drift (2015) explores new modes of curating sound in the public realm, presenting works from over 30 artists in an active city square. Anderson’s proposal for the UK Holocaust Memorial International Design Competition (developed in collaboration with Heneghan Peng Architects) was awarded honourable mention (2018). Recent video works include When I go home, I cut through (2018), GOLDENPRECIOUSFIELDSUNFOLD (2017) and Before the Flood (2015).
Gerard Byrne (b. 1969) lives and works in Dublin. His work in photography, film, theatre and multi-screen installation examines the slippage between time and the act of image creation. Recent solo exhibitions include Secession, Vienna, Austria (2019); Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2017); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2016); Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, UK (2016); and Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland (2015). He has also participated in Sculpture Projects Münster, Germany (2017); dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); Performa, New York City, NY, USA (2011); the 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2011); Auckland Biennial, New Zealand (2010); Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2008); Sydney Biennial, Australia (2008); Lyon Biennial, France (2007); Tate Triennial, London, UK (2006); and the Istanbul Biennale, Turkey (2003). In 2007 he represented Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
The title Opened Ground is taken from a collection of poems by Seamus Heaney; written between 1966 and 1996. The poems span a turbulent time in Northern Ireland and delve into both the physical and psychic landscape of that period. The presence of the border is part of the complex narrative of Northern Ireland creating divisions and divides. Since the Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998 the infrastructures of the military checkpoints have been decommissioned and have become part of the past. With the approaching deadline of Brexit, and the lack of clarity on how the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will manifest, it gives rise to the tension of the possibility of the re-emergence of a ‘hard border’.
Borders are a contentious issue locally, nationally, and internationally. The idea of territorial markings has historically been a constantly shifting ground. The invited artists in this exhibition have a shared history as each have a unique relationship with the landscape they reflect on; there is a biographical element to each, bearing witness to the lived experience of both past and present borders, and their effect on society as a whole.
Willie Doherty’s early photographic work from the 80’s and 90’s is a powerful reminder of how borders, primarily a political agenda, dislocates culture and the shape of people’s identities and histories. The photographs document how history can mark a terrain and how memory is marked in the landscape. The series of photographs of the border document empty roads reaching into the landscapes laden with overtones of what came before. The poignant photograph The Road Ahead (1997) carries new meaning with the uncertainty of what is to come.
Amar Kanwar’s piece A Season Outside (1997) explores the demarcation line between India and Pakistan. The film narrated by the artist reveals the anxiety that surrounds the militarised border between India and Pakistan. Partition, the British government’s 1947 division of the Indian subcontinent into two nations—Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan—left millions of people on the wrong side of a border, causing violence that has since escalated into an arms race. Kanwar, through his narration and imagery, lays bare the violence that erupts from this dispossession.
Aslan Gaisumov’s piece People of No Consequence (2016) explores the effect of displacement of Chechens from what was known as the Soviet Union to Central Asia in 1944. The people gathered in the work represent the collective memory and narrative of the effects of territorial shifts. It is a reminder of the human consequence of political manoeuvring.
With the instability of global politics and economic precarity, we have witnessed the rise of nationalism and identity politics. The border crisis in Northern Ireland is one signifier of global anxiety. The border currently exists as an imaginary line; a change in texture of road surfaces, a representation of an historical point within our history. The unknown outcome of our political situation turns our attention once more to the border.
Since the 1980s, Willie Doherty has been a pioneering figure in contemporary art film and photography. At once highly seductive and visually disorientating, Doherty’s artworks tend to begin as responses to specific terrains (most often mysterious isolated settings; places, we suspect, with a troubled past) and evolve as complex reflections on how we look at such locations – or on what stories might be told about their hidden histories.
Aslan Gaisumov (b. 1991 in Grozny, Chechnya) lives and works in Grozny and Amsterdam, NL. He is currently enrolled at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. Current and recent exhibitions include: If No One Asks, CAG Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver, CA, 2019); Crystals and Shards, Kohta Kunsthalle, (Helsinki, FI, 2018); Beautiful world, where are you?, Liverpool Biennial (Liverpool, UK, 2018); Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More, 1st Riga Biennale (Riga, LV, 2018); All That You See Here, Forget, Emalin (London, UK, 2018); I Am a Native Foreigner, Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, NL, 2017); How To Live Together, Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, AT, 2017); and People of No Consequence, Museum of Contemporary Art M HKA (Antwerp, BE, 2016).
Amar Kanwar has distinguished himself through films and multi‐media works, which explore the politics of power, violence and justice. His multi‐layered installations originate in narratives often drawn from zones of conflict and are characterized by a unique poetic approach to the personal, social and political. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including most recently the Prince Claus Award (2017).
Kanwar’s solo exhibitions of the last two years include: Luma Arles; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota; and Tate Modern, London (2018); Bildmuseet, Umea (2017); Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai (2016); Earlier solo exhibitions include the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2007); and the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2004), among others. He also participated in the first Lahore Biennale (2018), documenta 11, 12, 13, and 14 in Kassel, Germany (2002, 2007, 2012, 2017).
Crichton creates large-scale sculptures and installations that investigate the built environment. His research revolves around concepts of urban voids, hauntology, anti-monuments, post-minimalism, and silence. Aesthetically driven and predominately site-specific, his work is often characterised by a dialectic approach that challenges traditional perceptions and the cultural environment.
Crichton’s installation at Void continues his investigation into the monuments, their meaning and their resonance, both symbolically and materially. Crichton’s field recording of the Walker Memorial (1828) explores the contentious nature of its history whilst invoking a presence of absence, or equally, the absence as presence. The recordings of the monument will capture the resonance of sound through the material of the built environment. In collaboration with Derry musician Autumns (Christian Donaghey) the sounds will be mixed to create a soundtrack for the sculptural environment in the gallery space.
The installation of amplifiers replicates the dimensions of the plinth in sculptural form. The connection between the sound and the sculpture is one of physicality, the viewer through their presence activate the piece through interaction, both with the sound and their presence.
Biography of Artist
Liam Crichton is a Scottish artist currently based in Belfast. He graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2010 and is known for creating large-scale sculptures and installations that investigate physical space. Containing references to, and elements of a post-minimal realisation, his aesthetically driven and predominately site-specific work is often characterised by a sense of dichotomy that challenges traditional perceptions and cultural surroundings. In a systematic and reductive process, he breaks down the impression of the familiar to its bare essence. Crichton has recently exhibited in Edinburgh, London, Philadelphia, Dublin, and Belfast.
ASSEMBLE I Andreas Kindler von Knobloch I Tom Watt I Tanad Williams I Amanda Moström
26 May – july 1
‘Architecture of Change’ explores urban ecology and notions of play through sculpture, installation, film, talks, and workshops. As a city, Derry has a unique history, demonstrated through its archaeological sites. In more recent times it has shifted from being a mercantile, industrial city to its present ‘critical’ phase. It has the potential to be something other than the homogenous cities which have become the norm throughout the globalised world where public space becomes restricted and movement through the city becomes choreographed through design and function. Retaining the significant character of the city is important to maintaining the sense of place. What we are exploring is the Derry ‘city of the future’ and how that is imagined through ideas of play, green spaces, urban design and architecture.
Void are delighted to welcome ASSEMBLE as part of this exhibition – whose working practice seeks to address the typical disconnection between the public, and the process, by which places are made. ASSEMBLE will be exhibit a filmic work that explores the wider conversation around the importance of play within an urban context. ASSEMBLEchampion a working practice that is interdependent and collaborative, seeking to actively involve the public as participant and collaborator in the realisation of their work. Andreas Von Knobloch, Tanad Williams and Tom Watt will work in collaboration to produce a site-specific installation for the gallery responding to the architecture and design of the Derry city walls, disused military sites, and the structure of Grianan of Aileach Fort. Amanda Moström’s work is centred on notions of play and the boundaries around the types of responses that art engenders in its audiences. Play can be subversive and potentially liberating, creating new social dynamics both within the gallery space but more importantly within the urban sphere.
The speed with which we witness the transformation of our urban environments is a response to the increasingly urbanised world economy. The city has always had a distinctive role as a centre of business, labour and consumption patterns but it is also a point of social exchange and play.
Assemble are a collective based in London who work across the fields of art, architecture and design. They began working together in 2010 and are comprised of 18 members. Assemble’s working practice seeks to address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made. Assemble champion a working practice that is interdependent and collaborative, seeking to actively involve the public as both participant and collaborator in the on-going realisation of the work.
Andreas von Knobloch I Tom Watt I Tanad Williams – Collective Bio
Andreas Tanad and Tom, are three visual artists currently based in Dublin and Scotland. Since graduating from the sculpture department of NCAD in 2011-2012, they have developed their individual practice while also working collaboratively on a variety of different projects. Their collaborations are informed by an interest in social space, philosophy, landscape, materiality and architecture. Their collaborative sculptures are result of experimental exchange and are often constructed to perform in multi-dimensional ways – occupying a position between aesthetic object/ structure, the fit-for-purpose and elements of pragmatic usefulness. Their practice presents an ambitious interrogation of objects, environments and uses. Working with everyday or commonplace materials lends the works a familiarity while allowing them the freedom to be re- examined in a new and unfamiliar context. This method often results in work whose emphasis is on its production values, be they self-made or factory finished and a focus on the work’s overall coherent composition.
Andreas Kindler von Knobloch
Andreas Kindler von Knobloch is currently based in Dublin. His multidisciplinary practice is focused on ideas of collectivity and participation through the creation of structures and situations that question our material and social relations. Working in a variety of materials his work often seeks to help out or solve a perceived need, in a way that feels both utopian and pragmatic.
Tom Watt is currently based in Hopeman in Northern Scotland. His practice deals with altering the existing architecture of a space or temporarily assigning it a new function. He excavates spaces that are closed off from regular usage and lie outside of the frame of visible functionality. His interests lie in the gap that exists between our understanding of the space that we dwell in and these other spaces, which co-exist alongside us. Watt plays with uncovering these spaces, and their properties of silence and invisibility, re-purposing them through actions and built extensions.
Tanad Williams currently based in Dublin. Works with philosophically engaged objects, dialogues and texts. Rooted in academic research and linguistic investigation, the final object is constructed so as to represent both its material reality and its theoretical conception. He is a multidisciplinary artist working with performance, texts, objects both in his solo practice and his collaborative projects.
Amanda Moström was born in Umeå and now lives in London. She graduated Fine Art Sculpture from City and Guilds in 2016. Recent shows include ‘Doing it in the park, doing it after dark’ at Castor Projects, ‘Hopp och Lek’, a collaborative project with Lucas Dupuy at The Kennington Residency. She has exhibited in ‘Bloomberg New Contempories’ 2017/2018 at Block 336 in London, before showing at The Baltic 39 in Newcastle.
Her work generally tries to be read as a tool for play or function of some sort. She plays with the use and values of both experiences and materials. Amanda enjoys making things that you can touch and she is always trying to work with and beyond an often static gallery space, to create encounters, and encourage mischief.She enjoys collaboration and addressing issues of authorship to challenge hierarchical norms.
Amanda often wants there to be a clear reference to a public space and to encourage the same kind of familiarity in how people react to, move around, and use such public spaces. In this way the gallery space can function – not just as a quiet, contemplative space – but active, messy and action-filled.
Rosa Barba’s work situates itself within the realm of film and expands into sculptural forms through the exploration of the physicality of film itself and how that plays with light and spatiality. For this exhibition ‘between objects in the waking world’ she is exhibiting filmic works that situate themselves between experimental documentary and fictional narratives. Her films are located within specific geographic landscapes, whether manmade or natural often times desolate locations not conducive to human habitation. In saying that there is ‘psychogeographical’ element to these works through her study of the specific effect of the geographical environment on the behaviour and emotions of individuals; this is demonstrated in her films ‘Outwardly from Earth’s Center’ (2007) and ‘Disseminate and Hold’ (2016). Barba’s film works are fictions based within fiction, engaging with the tropes of documentary film making to create this sense of the real and to immerse the viewer in multi layered narratives. She is also engaged in this idea of film as a form of writing as can be seen in her piece ‘Optic Ocean’ (2011) a printed film script exhibited alongside ‘Somnium’ (2011).
‘Optic Ocean’ consists of a large, untreated canvas on which a text is printed in a double silkscreen print in red and cyan, the spotlight illuminates the text which gives the text a sense of movement which plays with the viewer’s vision. The text quotes a film script based on the first science-fiction narrative entitled ‘Somnium’, envisaged by the philosopher and optician Johannes Kepler – in which he demonstrated a parallelism. ‘Somnium’ is directly connected to ‘Optic Ocean’, as the text is the film script influenced by the short story written by Kepler that was published posthumously in 1634. Borrowing Kepler’s title in homage, she has drawn upon both his tale and, his remarkable achievement in establishing a new ontology of vision. The story describes how the earth is viewed from the lunar surface, and imagines the way of life of the inhabitants of the moon and its climatic conditions. In the film we see scenes of a desolate industrial port location as the narrator describes the constant construction of this new landscape. The location is in Rotterdam, a future harbor that will be in use by 2030, claimed to be the largest land reclamation project in the world. The minimal soundtrack by Jan St. Werner alongside the multiple narrations creates a surreal storyline that merges fact and fiction.
‘Outwardly from Earth’s Center’ is based on a fictional society that inhabits an island that is unstable and is drifting toward the North Pole. The narration of the film by experts lends weight to the situation; long aerial shots pan the landscape highlighting its seclusion. In order for the society to survive they must work collectively to save their piece of land. Social cohesion is the over arching sentiment of the piece as well as highlighting the human condition of vulnerability in an unstable environment. Continuing her exploration of landscape ‘Disseminate and Hold’ is sited in the city landscape of São Paulo, a sprawling metropolis the film centres on an elevated highway that runs through the city. These highways were often associated with utopian visions of the future and an economic vibrancy. In the film we see a highway occupied by people and devoid of cars as the road is open only to pedestrians and cyclists on weekends and during the week on evenings. The road is named after the Minhocão (animal), a quasi-fictitious earthworm-like creature. Barba is interested in the relationship between the city, its architectural history and its politics. Returning to this notion that the environment of the city can have an emotional effect on the people albeit it a subconscious effect. Similarly, Tony Smith famously described an experience on the New Jersey Turnpike; “The road and much of the landscape was artificial,” he said, “and yet it couldn’t be called a work of art. On the other hand, it did something for me that art had never done. At first I didn’t know what it was, but its effect was to liberate me from many of the views I had about art. It seemed that there had been a reality there that had not had any expression in art.” That reality could not be described, Smith said; it was something one had to “experience.”
Barba’s observational technique permits us to be somewhat removed but also present in these landscapes. In each of these films there is a meta narrative that connects them, the sense that all that is present becomes the future’s past, archaeological remnants of times past.
Rosa Barba’s work is a subtle interrogation into and co-option of industrial cinema-as- subject, via various kinds of what might be understood as “stagings”—of “the local,” the non-actor, gesture, genre, information, expertise and authority, the mundane—and removals from a social realism within which they were observed, and which qualifies them as components of the work, to be framed, redesigned, represented. The effect of which her work contests and recasts truth and fiction, myth and reality, metaphor and material to a disorientating degree, which ultimately extends into a conceptual practice.” (Ian White)
Her work has been exhibited at institutions and biennials worldwide. Most recently, she has had solo exhibitions at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid (2017); HangarBicocca, Milan (2017); Vienna Secession (2017); Malmö Konsthall (2017); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2016-2017); Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2016); Albertinum, Dresden (2015), and at the MIT List
Visual Arts Center, Cambridge MA (2015).
Barba’s work is part of numerous public collections and has been widely published, most recently, in the monographic books Rosa Barba: From Source to Poem (2017; published by Hatje Cantz) and Rosa Barba: The Color Out of Space (2016; published by MIT List Visual Arts Center/Dancing Foxes). Rosa Barba was awarded various prizes, amongst others thePIAC, International Prize for Contemporary Art, by the Prince Pierre de Monaco Foundation (2016).
Johan Grimonprez’s critically acclaimed work dances on the borders of practice and theory, art and cinema, documentary and fiction, demanding a double take on the part of the viewer. Informed by an archeology of present-day media, his work seeks out the tension between the intimate and the bigger picture of globalisation. It questions our contemporary sublime, one framed by a fear industry that has infected political and social dialogue. By suggesting new narratives through which to tell a story, his work emphasises a multiplicity of realities.
The exhibition takes its title from the film ‘Every Day Words Disappear’ (2016). In 1515 Machiavelli stated that it would be better for the Prince to be feared, than loved. Some 500 years later, Michael Hardt, political philosopher and co-author of ‘Empire, Multitude and Commonwealth’, asks in this film what it would mean to base a political system on love, rather than on fear. In the dystopian city-state ‘Alphaville’, of Godard’s eponymous film, all words and concepts relating to the idea of love and affection have been banned. When actress Anna Karina tries to express her feelings, she has to reinvent the words, for the concept of love is foreign to her. Like the protagonist in ‘Alphaville’, Hardt suggests that we need to redefine the tools to act politically together. Hardt embarks on a journey to identify the transformative powers of the ongoing struggle to re-invent democracy. Within this struggle he understands “the commons” as an antidote against a society run by fear; an inspiration for a paradigm that is based on dialogue and cooperation.
How can we transform a society that is increasingly defined by a permanent state of war and cultivated by an industry of fear? How can we realise the paradigm shift necessary to move away from a reality that depends on the exploitation of people and the cult of privatising public resources? Hardt looks for an answer in what he calls “the commons”, by which he refers not only to natural resources, but also to the languages we create and the relationships we conceive together.
The exhibition follows the trajectory of Grimponprez’s practice from his seminal work ‘dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y’ (1997), which documented the history of plane hijacking from the late 1960s to the 1990s, set against the backdrop depicting a dialogue between a terrorist and a novelist, where the latter contends that the terrorist or bomb-maker has taken over the writer’s territory as he is able to play the media more succinctly. This piece was made prior to 9/11 that transformed geopolitics, to his most recent works, ‘Blue Orchids’ (2017) and ‘Raymond Tallis, On Tickling’ (2017); two new films. This will be the first presentation of these films – as well as ‘What I Will’ – in Northern Ireland and the UK.
In ‘Blue Orchids’, Grimonprez creates a portrait diptych of two experts on opposite sides of the same issue – the global arms trade. The stories of Chris Hedges, the former war correspondent of The New York Times, and Riccardo Privitera, a former arms & equipment dealer of Talisman Europe Ltd (now dissolved), provide an unusual and disturbing context for shocking revelations about the industry of war. The UK’s arms industry makes about 20% of arms exported globally. Many of the UK customers have questionable human rights records and there are concerns that exported weapons are used for repression, or against military targets, (such as presently sent to Saudi-Arabia to bomb Yemen). This film has a local resonance since one of the world’s leading arms manufacturers was once based in Derry. In 2010, anti-war activists occupied their offices, protesting their activities, which resulted in the company’s decision to close their offices; demonstrating the power of collective resistance.
‘Blue Orchids’ will be immediately followed by ‘Raymond Tallis, On Tickling’. In this short film philosopher/neurologist Raymond Tallis argues that consciousness is not an internal construct, but rather relational. Through the intriguing idea that humans are physically unable to tickle themselves (despite applying the exact same stimulus to the skin as another person would), Tallis explores the philosophical notion that we become ourselves only through dialogue with others.
‘What I Will’ (2013) is a poignant poem written and narrated by Palestinian-American Suheir Hammad. The flashing footage of military parades and anti-aircraft guns provide the backdrop to her powerful voice, in a time when we have seen unprecedented numbers of people protesting against war this is a valiant protest poem.
Grimonprez’s works provides us with the tools to deconstruct and be critical of the mass media, the State, and the narrative that is driven through different mediums. We are living in complex times; politics are entering the realm of the surreal, the media landscape is totally transformed and with the acceleration of information we need to question what becomes normalised through the landscape of images that we absorb.
Image credit, ‘Ed Jansen, West Gallery, The Hague 2016’
Title ‘Admin Day’
In VOID Gallery Winter will investigate the sonic properties of a filing cabinet using contact mics, effects pedals and a sledgehammer.
N. Irish artist Keef Winter lives and works in London. He combines his interests in art and architecture using sculpture, installation, sound and performance. He completed a PhD in 2013 entitled ‘The Handyman Aesthetic’ at Ulster University. Winter’s studio process generates abstract apparatus that reference urban dissonance and reflect on cultish practices. He has a live act called ‘Handyman’ that mixes electronics, sounds of sheet steel, vocal samples and drumming.
His recent exhibitions include: ‘Can’t Help It’ (solo) at Black Tower Projects, London 2017; ‘Pre-Fix’, Unofficial Northern Ireland Pavilion, Sella Del Giardini, Venice 2017; ‘Swimming with Sharks’ (solo), Galeria Breve, Mexico City 2017; ‘On Becoming Fluid’, Hardwick Gallery, Cheltenham 2017; ‘Wysing Polyphonic’, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge 2016; ‘Sticky Enough’, Chalton Gallery, London 2016; ’Salon Sebastian Monteux’, Glasgow International 2016; ‘Deep Inside’ (solo), Galeria Breve, Mexico City 2016; FUSO & Carpe Diem, Lisbon 2015; ‘Post-Terminal & Ex-Ultimate’, West, Den Haag 2016; ‘Center Point’ (solo), House of St. Barnabas, London 2015; ‘Let’s build our own tomb’, Matt’s Gallery, London 2015; ‘Neutral’,TULCA Festival of Visual Art, Galway 2014; ‘London Dust’, Chandelier Projects, London 2014; ‘Stone Dreams’ ORGYPARK, New York 2014.
Upcoming presentations in 2018 include Litost Gallery, Prague; Sirius Art Centre, Cork and Galeria Breve, Mexico City.
‘The Cusp of Your Credenza’ & ‘Tissue’ Film Screenings by
The Cusp of Your Credenza (2015):
HD video and stereo audio, duration 10 minutes 27 seconds
The Cusp of Your Credenza is a wandering speculation through various material encounters. A woman presents a number of scenarios that involve the ingestion or ejection of substances. From toenails to statuary, muffins to monuments, The Cusp of Your Credenza wonders how we place ourselves bodily in a material world.
‘Dead Her’ (2018)
Courtesy of the Artist
Still from Dead Her, 2018
Sonia Shiel is a Dublin born visual artist, whose works synthesise object, image and sound in performative and immersive installations. At Void, Shiel will premiere Dead Her, a narrated visual presentation, written, directed and performed by the artist. Dead Her is one of a number of recent narrative works that will feature in her new book of short stories each exploring the pursuit of creative agency, – or living – with and without art. It will be published in 2018, by UCD‘s Parity Studios Press.
Shiel has had exhibitions at The Crawford Art Gallery, Cork; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; ISCPNew York; Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin; Kulturbunker, Frankfurt; Rua Red, Dublin; the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny and the RHA Gallery I and II, among many others. Recent performances and readings include Treeline, TBGS, Artbox and the NCAD Gallery. She has been the recipient of many awards, and international residencies, with the support of the Arts Council and Culture Ireland, and has completed recent fellowships at Fordham Law School, New York and the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD.
Where History Begins, explores the complex relationship between material culture and historical truth. The development of archaeology in the early 19th century is closely associated with the categorisation of material culture, preoccupied with the construction of a timeline through which artefacts determine the culture of a society in a space and time. These materials have become indexes within the field of research and when placed within a museum context have become valuable evidence or artefacts evoking a history. This interest in history or preservation has been traced back by historians to ancient art collections that predate the museum at the end of the third century B.C. The museum as collector or preserver of culture has become a contested site for artefacts. The collection of these pieces is often associated with the colonial project, the construction of the Nation State and a symbol of capitalism.
The nature of culture is to be dynamic and constantly shifting, with a multiplicity of histories. This exhibition questions how we construct historical narratives, how there is no one historical truth, and in what way histories have been constructed through the colonial project and particular ideological contexts. The writer Édouard Glissant observed that museums have become more like continents and that they should be more like an ‘archipelago’, he called for a global dialogue that does not erase local cultures but finds the commonality in difference.
Artefacts that demonstrate the complex history of Derry City and its surrounding area, from the early Neolithic period (c.4000 – 3500 BC) to the Ulster plantation period of the 17th century are exhibited with national and international contemporary artists revealing comparative histories with other cultures. The artists address the difficult relationship between destruction, conservation, appropriation and collective memory.
Ali Cherri’s film work Petrified (2015) questions the fetishisation of historical artefacts, by looking at the value we place on provenance and authenticity. The current prevalence of looting and the trafficking of artefacts, especially in conflict zones in the Middle East, open a timely debate on the reconstruction and restoration of demolished heritage. How does this alter the notion of authenticity? What historical traces are deemed valuable and why? Filmed between Sharjah’s Arabian Wildlife Centre and an excavation site in Northern Sudan, Petrified takes a journey into the life of dead objects.
Christodoulos Panayiotou, Real Fakes (2015) questions this notion of authenticity, and what becomes part of the historical lexicon. The work is made from stones that were discarded from archaeological excavations in Cyprus; they become ready mades, sculptures that are formed through a process of creation and destruction. Within the act of digging in archaeology there is the act of revealing and hiding, as often times the site is covered over once excavated and in its becoming it dies returning again to this idea of the dead objects.
Duncan Campbell’s, It For Others (2013) is an essay film that examines how we understand certain histories through objects and how we assign value on material goods. The piece takes as its starting point the 1953 film by Alan Resnais and Chris Marker called Statues Also Die, which asserts that colonialism is responsible for the demystification and commericalisation of traditional art from African culture. The film moves from the appropriation of traditional art from Western Africa, to the death of purpose of these objects from the colonial classes from here Campbell moves to popular culture and the construction of historical narratives through images and objects.
Kader Attia’s film Reflecting Memory (2016) splices interviews with academics and medical professionals with footage of individuals engaged in solitary pursuits: contemplating nature, sitting in a church pew, and admiring urban monuments. The subject discussed is the phantom limb pain experienced by amputees. This pain is aligned to cultural trauma, the history of colonialism and the appropriation of territories, people and objects and the repairing of the past pains or traumas of colonies. In film theory ‘suture’ refers to the phenomenon by which the mind produces a narrative whole from the fragments combined through cinematic cuts, creating a semblance of totality even when we should know better than to expect one. Attia’s film deftly exposes how the desire to perceive a whole subject can itself operate as an act of erasure.
The works reflect on regimes of knowledge both past and present. Questioning perceived notions and casting a critical eye on accepted canons. Where does one position oneself when looking at an artefact, what does it reveal, what does it have in common with other contemporary propositions in the world? In Glissant’s theory of relation, what brings things together is first of all the connection between differences, as they meet one after the other. The basis for which cause ideas, identities and intuitions to meet, revealing to us the common grounds that we share. It is within this commonality that one finds the universal and where history begins.
Void would like to thank the Tower Museum for their support in the supply of artefacts for this exhibition and Northbound Breweries for sponsoring the opening night.
The Digger, 2015
Video – 30 min
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Imane Farès
For twenty years, Sultan Zeib Khan has kept watch over a ruined Neolithic necropolis in the Sharjah desert in the United Arab Emirates. Although majestic, the wide–angle shots have no monumentalising intent: the beauty and extent of the site speak for themselves. What is playing out here is the possibility for one man to become part of a landscape that overwhelms him yet seems to need his help. Seen under the silhouette of a rock about to devour him or as a dwarfed gure spade in hand walking from the back of the frame, Sultan curiously busies himself from day to day to prevent the ruins… from falling into ruin.
Alan Resnais & Chris Marker
Statues Also Die, 1953
Video – 30 min
Les statues meurent aussi (Statues Also Die) is a film by Alain Resnais, Chris Marker and Ghislain Cloquet that analyses European perceptions of historical African art within colonialism. It speculates on the spiritual properties of African traditional works (from sculptures to masks) and problematizes the Western commercialisation of these pieces.