Sampler, the first solo exhibition by artist Aleana Egan in Northern Ireland. The exhibition will bring together existing works and two newly commissioned pieces, which expand on Egan’s nuanced approach to working with familiar materials that often have residual memories associated with them. The word sampler derives from the Latin exemplum, meaning an ‘example’. In the context of sewing and textiles, it was originally like a personal notebook for keeping stitches and motifs of interest together. Bringing works together under this title, Egan intends to put emphasis on the ephemeral and fragmentary. The exhibition will continue her investigation into creating an ambient space through which to convey emotions by using sparing sculptural gestures. In short, expressing the immaterial through material means.
The exhibition stands for an alternative to ‘confidence culture’ and fixed meaning, and is a subjective response to its context within Derry alluding to the city’s history within the textile industry. It tentatively asks the viewer to consider vulnerability and the inchoate as values from which to view the world.
Egan has been deeply engaged with the work of British artist and psychoanalyst Marion Milner (1900-1998) and it is her attention to a wide-angled focus – the oceanic over a sharp pointed rational focus – that she returns to. Her writings have influenced how Egan assembles the work and the gestural interpretations of the pieces. Memory and dreams are brought into focus and the useful flex of nostalgia is exercised. The ‘primacy of memory as a mode of consciousness’, as Walter Benjamin stated, is a fluid phrase which reminds us of the potential for art to reveal something we do not yet realize we know, that would not yield to words. The new sculptures are enigmatic forms made from fabric, wood, papier-mâche, steel, shadows and dust. Alongside these are paintings made over the last year which incorporate traces of experience from a material world as well as an interior one. The fabricated steel is filigree in register and will be punctuated by intense hand-hewn objects built up from papier-mâche and pigment.
In seeking to describe Egan’s work, there is gap between what you perceive and how it is understood, the works punctuate the gallery space and create interfaces and interactions that tend to avoid definition, returning to the idea of that which can be felt but not named. The interactions with materials are fleeting moments, chance encounters with things that are too slight to be defined but in the context of the exhibition become whole.
Aleana Egan uses a variety of materials to create sculptural gestures and installations which can take the form of slender, fluid works and a more densely concentrated constellation of forms. Often, the sculptures are expressive whilst using a language of materials and artistic technique that is sparing. These materials such as various metals, cardboard, concrete, wood, pigment and fabric are incorporated into a practice which comes from an intuitive as well as an intellectual place and which plays with the materials’ qualities; how they curve, hang or sag. More recently works are made up of constituent parts, each forming a social relationship with the other. Recent solo exhibitions include small field, Künstlerhaus Bremen (2021), New People, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Duesseldorf (2020) Spitze, Farbvision, Berlin (2019); A House andIts Head, Kerlin Gallery (2017); Recent group exhibitions include Feeling of Knowing, The Complex, Dublin from narrow provinces, Cample Line, Dumfrieshire, Scotland (2019); staring forms, TBG&S(2019); Aleana Egan/Pearl Blauvelt, Mary Mary, Glasgow(2018)
Void Gallery is delighted to host The Shrinking Universe by Eva Rothschild, as part of the Ireland at Venice 2019 National Tour. The Shrinking Universe was the national representation of Ireland at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2019, curated by Mary Cremin.
The Shrinking Universe consists of individual works made up of multiple elements. Each sculpture retains its own distinct presence while forming a cohesive totality. The array of materials that Rothschild uses in her work, alongside the distinction between the presence of the artist’s hand and industrially created works, brings about a tension between the monumental and the personal.
Through her diverse use of materials and sculptural formats, Rothschild constructs a sculptural and immersive environment that allows the public to be both viewer and participant. Rothschild’s exhibition creates a socially sculptural space, allowing for contemplation of the material legacy of both present and past civilisations.
One of the leading sculptors of her generation, Eva Rothschild’s practice demonstrates a great awareness of the modernist tradition while maintaining its own distinctive sculptural language. Her works also engage with objects from the surrounding urban environment that she lives and works in, and the eternal forms of geometry and classicism. Her sense of materials, scale, monumentality, colour and line reflect a refined aesthetic sensibility that redeploys and subverts familiar sculptural formats.
Rothschild’s works are dynamically active, unapologetically monumental and bold. Expanding on the artistic lexicon of process, form, scale and materiality, Rothschild creates her own unique sculptural language. The Shrinking Universe is an invitation to look, to be attentive to your surroundings and most of all to be present with the work.
Eva Rothschild Biography
Eva Rothschild was born in Dublin in 1971 and lives and works in London. She has undertaken largescale commissions for Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries (2009) and Public Art Fund, New York (2011). Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2018); The New Art Gallery, Walsall (2016-17); The Hugh Lane, Dublin (2014); Nasher Sculpture Centre, Dallas (2012); Kunstverein Hannover, Hanover (2011); South London Gallery, London (2007); and the Kunstalle Zürich, Zürich (2004). Rothschild’s 2011 solo Hot Touch was the inaugural exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield. In 2014 Rothschild was elected Royal Academician by the Royal Academy, London.
Cevdet Erek is an Istanbul based artist and musician. A background in architecture, sound engineering, and performing in a band forms the basis of his practice. In his working process Erek often responds to architectural context through interventions, using sound to inhabit architectural spaces. His work is provocative, proposing new perspectives. The exhibition at Void, Beating a Retreat, was disrupted by COVID-19 and due to travel restrictions, has been developed at a distance through the lens of conversations, processes of experimentation and virtual tools.
For Beating A Retreat, Erek has composed a new sound piece titled Back with the bodhrán, an instrument associated with traditional Irish music of the 1960’s. The history of the bodhrán is often connected with the ancient Celts and has a musical legacy that predates Christianity. Within the exhibition Erek draws parallels between the bodhrán and instruments widely used across Turkey, Northern Africa and the Middle East, as well as the traditions of disparate cultures.
In Back the sound of the percussion alludes to the exhibition’s title Beating a Retreat, a reference to the military use of drums in signifying the end of battle and a retreat. The piece follows Erek’s previous solo performances and music releases such as Davul, 2017 and Zincirli, 2021 (both on Subtext Recordings) that consist of long duration improvisations done by experimental playing and recording techniques applied on davul, the popular bass drum instrument from Anatolia, Balkans and the wider region. Alongside Back, Erek presents a wall piece utilising parchment similar to the drum’s skin.
In the exhibition, Erek also draws on our perception and experience of time in the series Rulers and Rhythm Studies (2007 – ongoing). A new ruler conceived for this exhibition, Ruler 2019 BC19 to 1 AC19, bases itself on an imaginary COVID-19 calendar that takes 2020, the year that the pandemic was declared by WHO, as its year zero. The exhibition serves as a punctuation and meditates on where we are at present as we slow down and move through this tumultuous period.
Beating a Retreat starts and ends with the sound work Welcome and Goodbye – a piece that builds on Erek’s previous large scale installation works such as ÇIN (Turkish Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2017). Welcome and Goodbye utilises signals which interfere differently, corresponding to whether you are entering or leaving the exhibition.
Cevdet Erek, born 1974, lives and works in Istanbul. He studied architecture at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul and sound engineering and design at the Center for Advanced Studies in Music (MIAM) at Istanbul Technical University, ITU. During his studies he worked in several architectural offices, produced and performed with the Istanbul based band Nekropsi.From 2005 to 2006 he was an artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. In 2011, Erek received his doctorate in Music from the ITU MIAM. In 2012, he received the Nam June Paik – International Media Award from Kunststiftung NRW. He currently teaches at ITU TMDK and ITU MIAM. Erek has presented his installations internationally in numerous solo and group shows. In 2017 he represented Turkey at the 57th Venice Biennale with his work ÇIN. In 2012, at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, he showed the installation Room of Rhythms, a work that he later realized in site-specific versions in altered form at MAXXI, Rome, 2014, the Istanbul Biennial, 2015 and the Biennale of Sydney, 2016. Erek has had solo exhibitions at venues including the Art Institute of Chicago, chiçiçiçichiciç, 2019; M HKA, Antwerp, AAAAA, 2018; MUAC, Mexico City, A Long Distance Relation, 2017; Spike Island, Bristol, Alt Üst, 2014; and Kunsthalle Basel, 2012.
CHOREOGRAPH, the first solo exhibition of Elizabeth Price in Northern Ireland. Price’s distinctive film works inhabit the digital world using computer animated voices, graphics and a saturated videography that give the works a dystopic sensibility, exploring the human experience from industrialisation to the digital age.
The films are anthropological, often exploring mundane objects and imbuing them with a relevance, and situating them within an historical moment.
Emerging from this period of lockdown, where technology became our means of connection to the world, Price’s work embodies this notion of the cognitive harmony between the body and the machine. The title CHOREOGRAPH, a term derived from the Greek words: dance (chorus) and to write (graphy) is a reference to how the multi-screen works synchronise in the space aligning with the rhythms of the music, dance and writing and narrative that unfolds in the pieces.
THE TEACHERS (2019) is part of the trilogy SLOW DANS, the storyline follows a dystopian future where a contagion has spread rapidly through the establishment. The affected, THE TEACHERS communicate in the work through wearing elaborate costumes and perform absurd and profane rituals. The four narrators dispute the reasons for their continuing silence, it could be viewed as a silent protest. The disembodied figures reflect a Rorschach folding and unfolding reminiscent of a book page turning. The four-screen projection is choreographed visually to mimic a ritualistic form of movement. This piece alludes to the corporate structures or the ‘executive realm’ whose decisions affect the access to higher education which resonates with the current proposed funding cuts to art education.
With FOOTNOTES (2020), the four chapters Stiletto, Supertunica, Coal and Inky Spit follow the etymological exploration of cultural and technical histories. The single screen works were made during the period of lockdown, mining material from the internet and utilising hand-built sets, and recorded in total darkness, using infra-red light. The Inky Spit is a reference to the black lung often a physical manifestation to working in coal mines. The significance of the lungs could echo events in the last year with the utterance of George Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe’, which became a mantra for the Black Lives Matter movement and the respiratory virus that has led to mass deaths across the world from a lack of oxygen.
Price’s work operates within the digital realm and material culture. She explores occluded histories while critiquing vernacular language and technological innovation.
Her works reflect our anxiety of the automating of our identities through technology, the collection of user behaviour data to learn how to predict and shape our ideas and lives. As we enter this new historical moment there is a sense of the unknown of what our new reality will bring, and the significant role technology will play.
Elizabeth Price Biography
Elizabeth Price was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1966. She grew up in Luton, Bedfordshire and attended Putteridge Comprehensive Secondary School. She studied at the Royal College of Art, London and the University of Leeds.
Price creates short videos which explore the social and political histories of artefacts, architectures and documents. The subject matter may sometimes be historic artworks of great cultural significance, it is more frequently marginal or derogated things, and often pop-cultural or mass produced objects. The video narrations’ draw upon and satirise the administrative vernaculars of relevant public and academic institutions as well as advertising copy and other texts of private and commercial organisations.
In 2012, she was awarded the Turner Prize for her video installation THE WOOLWORTHS CHOIR OF 1979. In 2013, she won the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award with the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums, Oxford. She has exhibited in group exhibitions internationally, and has had solo exhibitions at Tate Britain, UK; Chicago Institute of Art, USA; Julia Stoschek Foundation, Dusseldorf and The Baltic, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.
Price also works in academia, and is presently Professor of Film and Photography in the School of Art, Kingston University, UK.
Alan Phelan’s exhibition echoes are always more muted is part of an expanded series of exhibitions that encompass his continuing research into the intersections of history, sexuality, material culture and politics which have evolved through sculpture, participatory events, and photography.
The genesis of this new body of work is the photographic process invented by John Joly (1890s) that created colour via a red, green and blue screen to create the full colour spectrum. The two-layer photograph consists of the striped colour screen and black & white sheet film, which also creates a unique colour shift upon viewing. The process was used into the early 20th Century and abandoned for colour without stripes.
John Joly, the inventor of the process, provides the biographical background to the 15-minute film Folly & Diction (2020). Instead of a detailed documentary, the music video format provides the structure with a narrative taken from a Samuel Beckett short story and narration in the form of song lyrics, culled from a poem by Jean Genet. The video tells an oblique story of loss, a forgotten history, and a failed relationship with his collaborator Henry Dixon. It brings Joly’s photographic process into a contemporary sphere with audio responsive animated stripes that pulse to the music and crude video layering that draws on multiple music video tropes.
Red, green and blue form the basis of how video screens present colour and how we experience colour in all electronic devices; this provides the background for other works in the exhibition. The centre piece of Gallery 1 is an installation of various props and parts which further expand the idea of a photograph as a multi-sensory object moving into an augmented reality and fragrance as a memory trigger. A small RGB hyacinth flower is enlarged via a mobile phone AR app and the sweet scent of the flower pervades the gallery. The mattress, pot, and plant notebook connects to the film, referencing an earlier script – elements that were eliminated in the final cut. The flower has persisted, however, as a memory trigger, as in the film, just like a fragrance, to a different sensory connection with the past.
The recurring use of this trio of colours shift to gels on spotlights, onto a new wall work comprised of screen-printed page layouts, from a zine dealing with images and texts that delve into a wider art history of stripes. The wall is punctuated by a single Joly screen photograph of a headless self-portrait, shot from behind, in red, with red roses, pushing bathos that bit further.
Five new Joly screen images hung close to this are the most recent photographs. They have dense compositions made of dots, with holes in the screen that reflect onto circular mirrors, creating monochrome gaps in the striped screen, overlapping into the objects photographed. Works by John Baldessari and Sigmar Polke provide more recent histories as reference points here.
Ten Joly screen images in Gallery 3 traverse different art histories relating to the pre-photographic photo realism of 17th Century flower paintings; moving through cinematic references, advertising, 1950s ikebana Japanese flower arranging, queer photography, and more. The inherent ambiguity of the images ghosts a history the process never had a chance to image or imagine. Convoluted titles attempt to navigate possible interpretative paths but they only leave echoes of a past that never happened and a present that has still more to achieve or reveal.
This series of works expands on Phelan’s preoccupation with re-imagining history in a contemporary guise, he appropriates histories, deconstructing others to make a mélange of humorous imagery that references the gamut of art and photographic genres. It is an exercise of storytelling that is at once all-encompassing but ultimately a story of invention, failure and love.
Alan Phelan Biography
Alan Phelan (b.1968) is an artist based in Dublin whose practice began in photography and has extended into many different media and mediums with a focus on interpretation, language and collaboration. He studied at Dublin City University and Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. Recent exhibitions and projects include RHA, Dublin; The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon (2020); Company of Others, CCA, Derry (2020); TBG+S Atrium (2019); The LAB, Dublin (2019); and Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2019). Our Kind, commissioned by Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane for 2016/1916 was also screened in Oslo, Bergen, Derry, Belfast and Carlow where it won the Hotron Éigse Art Prize. Internationally he has shown at Dada Post, Berlin; Loop, Barcelona; Videonale.15 Bonn Kunstmuseum; Detroit, Stockholm; Bozar, Brussels; Treignac Projet, France; Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai; Oksasenkatu 11, Helsinki; Mina Dresden Gallery, San Francisco; Galería Del Infinito Arte, Buenos Aires; ŠKUC, Ljubljana; SKC Gallery, Belgrade; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Public art commissions include works for Dublin City Council, Dublin South County Council, St Michael’s House Special National School Raheny and the Dept of Communications. He is currently the NCAD School of Fine Art Artist in Residence for 2019-20.
Co-curated by Mary Cremin and Peter Richards, featuring artists: Bassam Al Sabah; Liliane Puthod; Michael Hanna; and Stuart Calvin
Dissolving Histories follows the acclaimed Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art series, which was conceived to explore the unreliable nature of history. While Dissolving Histories refers to this series, its purpose is to actively investigate the notion of history itself.
Co-curated by Mary Cremin and Peter Richards, the four artists presented use video, sculpture, found materials, and installation to create a dialogue between their work. The distinct qualities of each artist bleed into one another on encounter, creating ‘zones’ rather than spaces in which to explore our changing reality. Working to highlight the experience of the entire exhibition as a whole, different elements converge to provoke questions relating to exhibition making, encounter, and representation.
Al Sabah, Puthod, Hanna and Calvin are individually interested in contemporary consumerism, materiality and futuristic landscape. The exhibition considers today’s lifestyle, informed by our consumption of material goods. There is a glut, an overspill, and a crowding of ideologies reflecting each artist’s interpretation of ourchanging everyday reality. Michael Hanna’s piece explores the ideas of utopian communities and ways of living. The work uses as its starting point the utopian publication Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy; at the time of writing in 1888 the western world was going through a similar moment when the disparity within society and world politics was in crisis.
Stuart Calvin’s work focuses on new age ideologies, his sculptural works are reminiscent of the symbols and connections that inhabit both the real and mystical landscape. The philosophical inquiry in his work explores our propensity and need to seek spiritual fulfilment in times of chaos.
Bassam Al Sabah creates surreal animated landscapes through his multi-media installations that move from the physical to the mythological. His works are influenced by Japanese anime that use hyper surreal imagery embedded in the ideas of fantasy. Al Sabah deconstructs this language by referencing war imagery to reflect the experience of countries divided by war.
Liliane Puthod in contrast highlights our fetishisation of consumer culture; neon lights, the hum and glow of a fridge, reference our consumer culture and the fabrication of desire through everyday objects.
This grouping of artists came about through studio visits and an idea of creating an exhibition that reflects our current moment, the artists areas of research compound that while we face the current political and global crisis our response and reaction reflects the complexity of our time and our means of translating this reality into artists practice.
Michael Hanna is an artist based in Belfast. His work takes a wide range of forms including text, video and immersive site-specific installation. Through this work he uses affective experience to explore connections between psychology, physicality and society. His current project examines utopian ideologies through representations in fiction and their real-world manifestations.
He is co-founder of the artist-run organisation AMINI (Artists’ Moving Image Northern Ireland). In 2018 Michael was selected for the Freelands Artist Programme, a 2 year fellowship with PS2, Belfast and Freelands Foundation, London. He has exhibited in the UK and internationally including Rencontres Internationales at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Multiplicity at NURTUREart, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Looking Backward at PS2, Belfast, Short Films about Learning at Lismore Castle Arts, and Predictable Contact at the Naughton Gallery, Belfast.
Calvin’s installation and sculptural work draws on familiar symbolism from various religions and belief systems. His work explores incorporeal worlds, supernatural experiences and the human propensity to venerate and fetishise objects. Throughout Calvin’s work, references to New Age ideologies, superstitions and theories of consciousness are ever present. The work proposes a type of modem mysticism, forming connections between the visible and invisible, the physical and metaphysical.
Born in Belfast 1974, Stuart Calvin graduated from the University of Ulster in 2011 with a BA Hons in Fine and Applied Art and in 2016, a Masters degree in Fine Art. He has recently been awarded The Royal Society of British Sculptors Bursary. Calvin was the first recipient of the Annual Gerard Dillon Award and Solo Show, selected by the Arts committee of Culturlann Belfast. He received the University of Ulster Dean’s list award and bursary 2009.
Bassam Al Sabah’s work conveys visions of war, resistance and perseverance. He is concerned with how the past is continually revised to meet the present, when the juvenile fantasy breaks down into the reality of adulthood. He references Arabic dubbed Japanese anime series, which were broadcast across the middle-east from the 1980s. Tackling themes of revolution, war and exile, the work projects political meaning onto these cartoons, which have been connected with a cross generational identity, shared by now adult Arabs. Al Sabah draws attention to an ignored point in media globalisation: the influence, effects and agendas of Japanese anime on Arab popular culture.
Al-Sabah graduated from IADT’s BA Visual Art Practice in 2016 and was awarded the RHA Graduate Studio Award. He was shortlisted for the RDS Visual Arts Awards, curated by Alice Maher. Recently he was part of a panel discussion, chaired by Cristín Leach, in Dublin Castle as part of Cruinniú na Cásca, and was listed by Gemma Tipton in the Irish Times as an artist to watch in 2017. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Eight (2017) and Dublin City Council’s The LAB (2018).
Liliane Puthod’s practice often takes the form of large-scale installations and sculptures. Her work is informed by research into ideas of mass-production and its perceived value in our globalised world. Often taking her immediate surroundings as a starting point for her creative work, she uses both handmade and industrialised materials. She draws on modes of display, the language of merchandising and is interested in examining the way forms can problematise the materials from which they are made. She is drawn to archaeology, contrasting contemporary mass-production with singularly produced repetitive objects, as a way to approach archaeological and commodified time.
Recent exhibitions include group show Display, Link and Cure at The Complex, Dublin, 2019, solo shows How Long After Best Before at Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin, 2019 and Everything Must Go at PS2, Belfast, 2019. She is recipient of the Project Studio 2020-2021 at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios and her work is generously supported by the The Arts Council.
Mary Cremin is a curator, writer and art historian. She is the Director of Void Gallery, Derry, where she commissioned the Turner Prize winning film The Long Note by artist Helen Cammock in 2019. She was the Commissioner and Curator of the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2019 with artist Eva Rothschild. Prior to this she was the Programme Curator of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios and the Artistic Director of The Treeline Project with Oonagh Young.
In 2015, she was Curator of TULCA Festival of Visual Art, Seachange, which included over 30 national and international artists. She has delivered large scale exhibitions and commissions such as Magnetism, Hazelwood Estate, Sligo, (2015), Richard Mosse, The Enclave, Irish Pavilion, Venice Biennale, (2013).
Void Gallery is delighted to present a commission by London and Amsterdam based artist Ima-Abasi Okon in partnership with the Chisenhale Gallery. Okon works with sculpture, sound and video to produce installations that explore exhibition-making as an exercise in syntax, adopting linguistic and grammatical structures within her installations as a way of complicating the construction of knowledge.
For the iteration of the commission, Okon delineates individual aspects of a previous vocabulary of symbols embedded in both hand-made and mass-produced materials, including film to explore representations of the body and the formation of taste, value and excess. A series of industrial air conditioners are adapted to become hosts for a new multi-channel sound piece comprising an existing audio track that has been slowed down. Acting as both a cooling system for the gallery and as a vehicle for the sound work, the fans perform at various speeds and durations.
In another gallery the ceiling has been partially lowered using a standardised modular system, often found within offices, retail spaces, waiting rooms and other administrative environments. The mass-produced ceiling tiles have been smeared with an invisible mixture of morphine, insulin, ultrasound gel and gold, imbuing the otherwise everyday objects with a personal, totemic charge.Hand-crafted glass light shades, each adorned with an opulent design and filled with palm oil and Courvoisier VS Cognac, hang from the ceiling. With the introduction of these liquids, the lights emit a golden glow, further highlighting an atmospheric friction between Okon’s production processes, pointing to the possibilities of magic as a sculptural act. Okon’s ongoing use of oriented strand board, painted with varnish and framed with ‘exotic woods’ further explore how value is assigned to a given object or material through its categorisation, modes of display and origin.
Through the use of sound, scale and light and film, Okon’s commission makes audible and palpable an excess, or surplus, that is often silenced or not seen and in doing so questions how to represent a body in its absence. Ima-Abasi Okon’s practice across print, sculpture and moving image revolves around a preoccupation with knowledge, its production and the methods which language both regulates and distributes it. The result is work that often deals with how information is performed as an extension of knowledge.
Ima-Abasi Okon lives and works between London and Amsterdam. Selected exhibitions include: Infinite Slippage: nonRepugnant Insolvencies T!-a!-r!-r!-y!-i!-nas Handclaps of M’s Hard’Loved’Flesh [I’M irreducibly undone because] —Leanage-Complex-Dub, Chisenhale Gallery, London, UK, The Weather Garden: Anne Hardy curates the Arts Council Collection, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (2019); Sur— [MIX-USECOMMODITY] —plus, Kingsgate Project Space, London; Parables for the BLAZER: Mahalia’s EXCISTENCEandEXISTENTS-HyPE fragrant stacking balm (306.HAL), Plaza Plaza, London; 13th Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar, Senegal; There’s something in the conversation that is more interesting than the finality of (a title), The Showroom, London (all 2018); and UNTITLED: Art on the Conditions of Our Time, New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2017). In 2018, she was awarded both the Nigel Greenwood Research Prize and the Summer Residency at Hospitalfield, Scotland. She is currently participating in the residency programme at Rijksakademie voor beeldende kunsten (Academy for fine arts), Amsterdam.
The Irish Pavilion 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia Artiglierie, Arsenale
May 11th – November 24th, 2019
Irish artist Eva Rothschild has created an ambitious and immersive exhibition for the Irish Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Continuing her exploration of sculptural presence, Rothschild presents a physical environment which materially resonates with current political concerns and our ongoing sense of global uncertainty.
The Shrinking Universe consists of four works made up of multiple elements. Each sculpture retains its own distinct presence while forming a cohesive totality within the pavilion. The array of materials that Rothschild uses in her work, alongside the distinction between the presence of the artist’s hand and industrially-created works, brings about a tension between the monumental and the personal. Drift (2019), a wall of cast concrete blocks painted in Rothschild’s signature geometric forms, is architectural and foreboding, its position controlling our entry to the space. Heaped against this wall we find a mass of cast forms hovering between the referential and the abstract, alluding to both geographical forces and the disposable nature of consumable materials.
In Amphi (2019) a series of cast polystyrene blocks are pushed together, pockmarked and graffitied they are reminiscent of a temporary road block or barricade. The viewer is invited to engage with this social sculpture, to climb and to sit, to directly encounter the piece and to become both spectator and participant, actively present within the work. From this viewpoint Princess (2019) rises from a base of cast columns at the centre of the pavilion, its triangular forms stretching high above the ground and forcing our eyes to trace its precarious and optimistic progression. The sculpture rests on waxed fabric crash mats, demarcating a space of safety around the sculpture, but failing to fully contain it as it meanders beyond its boundaries into the surrounding space.
Both Amphi and the truncated columns reference the ruins of past civilizations, while the antic triangular elements of Princess attempt a progressive geometric escape from their earthbound forms. In the midst of this sculptural activity, Rothschild’s Spektor (2019), a cast bronze of towering head-like forms, acts as a sentinel or ghostly presence: a watcher by the gates coolly observing the other works. Rothschild’s works are dynamically active, unapologetically monumental and bold. Expanding on the artistic lexicon of process, form, scale and materiality, Rothschild creates her own unique sculptural language. The Shrinking Universe is an invitation to look, to be attentive to your surroundings and most of all to be present with the work.
Void is delighted to present The Last of England, an exhibition that explores the work of one of Britain’s most iconic filmmakers, painter, writer, gardener and political activist Derek Jarman. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, Jarman shifted from being apolitical – with his films documenting his private life in a ‘cinema of small gestures’ – to being at the centre of the queer movement, with his activism firmly integrated into his films. In this exhibition Jarman’s politics and activism are at the forefront; the GBH painting series (1983-84) and his film The Last of England (1987) reflect and resonate with our current political crisis.
Created in response to social injustices of the late ‘80s, the themes of The Last of England still reverberate widely across contemporary Britain and Northern Ireland. Jarman’s apocalyptic, postcolonial depictions of the ‘fall of England’ – reflecting the country’s desire to return to its ‘Imperial days’ – are ever present in the current political landscape, from Brexit, parliamentary suspensions and the absence of a government at Stormont, to the rise of nationalism, fascism and state surveillance. We are at an impasse in Northern Ireland and are once again at the mercy of Westminster decision-making. The film references the AIDS epidemic and the collective trauma that was experienced at that time. The film was initially going to be titled GBH The Last Of England, reflecting the destruction of the landscape and culture of England, and more personally the body through AIDS. Jarman said the GBH could stand for “whatever you want it to: grievous bodily harm, great British horror, gargantuan bloody H-bomb”. Instead he used the GBHtitle for his painting series, depicting the map of England in various stages of being enflamed. In exhibiting these works, it punctuates this particular moment in Northern Ireland and the UK political history, to show the parallels in the political struggle from then and now.
In the Shadow of the Sun (1981) will also be exhibited, reflecting his earlier works that are more biographical; a series of Super 8 films that were shot between 1972 and 1975, edited together with the soundtrack by Throbbing Gristle. This film was part of a body of film works referred to as the ‘cinema of small gestures’; the use of filters and the atmosphere of the film contrasts the dystopic sensibility of The Last of England.
The culmination of these works at Void allow for both a celebration of his work and highlight the continuing need to agitate and disrupt. The legacy of Jarman’s work and gay rights activists both past and present are demonstrated in recent societal and legislative changes; legalisation of gay marriage in Northern Ireland. Jarman’s work is prescient and has a strong resonance to our times.
Derek Jarman (1942-1994) was an English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener, political activist and author. He was educated at the University of London and at the Slade School of Art. In 1967 Jarman exhibited in Young Contemporaries, Tate Gallery, London (prizewinner); Edinburgh Open 100, Lisson Gallery, London and Fifth Biennale des Jeunes Artistes, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. Jarman’s first work in the cinema was as a set designer on Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971), selected set designs include Savage Messiah (1972) and The Rake’s Progress (1982) with numerous designs for stage and ballet. Jarman’s first films were experimental Super 8mm shorts, his first full-length feature film Sebastiane was released in 1976, followed by selected films Jubilee (1978), Angelic Conversation (1985), Caravaggio (1986), The Garden (1990) and Edward II (1991).
Selected solo exhibitions: Sarah Bradley’s Gallery, London (1978); Edward Totah Gallery, London (1982); ICA, London (1984); Richard Salmon Ltd., London (1987) and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (1994). Jarman also wrote several books, including the autobiographical Dancing Ledge (1984) and two volumes of memoirs, Modern Nature (1992) and At Your Own Risk (1992). Derek Jarman’s Garden, which documents the creation of his extraordinary garden at Dungeness was published in 1995.
PROTEST!, published by Thames and Hudson 2020
IMMA and Thames and Hudson will publish a major new monograph on Derek Jarman to accompany the retrospective at IMMA, covering Jarman’s artistic development as well as reflecting on his life and legacy. The book will feature contributions from Seán Kissane, Curator, IMMA; Mary Cremin, Director, Void Gallery, Sir Norman Rosenthal; Jonny Bruce, gardener and journalist; Professor Robert Mills, University of London; Jon Savage, music critic and writer; Michael Charlesworth, an authority on landscape and the history of gardens and author of the book ‘Derek Jarman, Critical Lives’, and writers Olivia Laing and Philip Hoare.
The exhibition will co-incide with a major retrospective of his work at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in partnership with Manchester Art Gallery, and is accompanied by additional projects at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton.
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.