Category Archives: 2010


Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin / The Dock, Carrick on Shannon

Co-curated Oonagh Young & Mary Cremin

January 29 – February 27,2010

David Godbold,  Factotum, Nevan Lehart , Paul Murnahan 

Screening: Rocky road to Dublin

From 1 January 2010, blasphemy is a crime in Ireland punishable by a €25,000 fine. The law states that blasphemy is committed when a person

“publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”
This law has provided an extremely dangerous international precedent. The exact wording on blasphemous libel contained in this Defamation Act is being used by Pakistan to seek a “defamation of religion” law through the UN. Irish legislation is being used to legitimise the proposals of Pakistan and the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) to establish defamation of religion as a principle of international law.

Ireland voted with all other EU countries against a resolution on “combating defamation of religion” at the UN last December. Explaining that vote, Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin said:

“We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.”
“One man’s blasphemy is another man’s comedy classic,” the Irish Examiner editorial remarked.  Is it that simple?
Images considered blasphemous have changed over the centuries. But the response has not. Eliciting extreme reactions from particular sections of society has resulted in much work being destroyed and many artists banished down through the ages. It is clear to see that images considered ‘blasphemous’ still stir very deep and dangerous emotions such as the The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy in 2005. 
What makes an image Blasphemous? In what contexts are they considered sacrilegious or immoral? Is the introduction of this new legislation in Ireland an indication of a tolerant, pluralist and democratic society befitting of our times? The artists in this exhibition address the issue directly through their individual practices or have already confronted censorship of their work.

David Godbold is interested in the ‘conflation of grand themes and daily minutiae’. Here he presents a cluster of crucifixes (13 in total); overlaying redundant notes, lists, leaflets and official documents with religious imagery and wry captions. Godbold considers the language of suffering creating trenchant satire through ironic political commentary. 
The Vacuum (produced by the arts organisation Factotum formed by Stephen Hackett and Richard West) published two issues simultaneously on the themes of God and Satan. Two weeks later, the City Council debated the contents of these papers with some councillors accusing Factotum of ‘encouraging devil worshiping’. This started a process of debates culminating in the Council disregarding legal advice and demanding that Factotum apologise to them and the citizens of Belfast. To lampoon the Council’s demand, Factotum held a Sorry Day and published a special Sorry Issue of The Vacuum. The three issues and newspaper clippings are on display in the exhibition.
Paul Murnaghan presents ‘Map of the Empire’ which originated from Murnaghan’s utopian project ‘Neocredo’ (2008) where he traveled extensively in Europe posing a question through various media, ’if you had the opportunity to compose the opening line of a universal hymn, what would it be and how would you sing it’? Here he adds random material and imposes opinion where once was objectivity. Where blasphemy may be truly present, is in the casual misrepresentation and disregard for stated beliefs through the overlaying of various answers.

For Nevan Lahart materiality and the transforming nature of his art renders his made-objects absurd and potent. The visceral energy in his work reinforces the irony transmitted through his juxtaposition of materials and wit. Lahart is one of Ireland’s most innovative artists, defying the norms of display and challenging spaces with his physicality. He is currently showing in the RHA with A Lively Start to a Dead End.

With the kind permission of the director Peter Lennon, Rocky Road to Dublin (1967) will be screened alongside The Making of Rocky Road (2005) on Wednesday 10th February at 7pm in the gallery. There was a de facto ban on this documentary for over 30 years in Ireland because it argues that Ireland was dominated by cultural isolationism, primarily Gaelic and clerical traditionalism. Shot by French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, Lennon asks: “What do you do with your revolution once you’ve got it?”






Here & There

Oonagh Young gallery, Dublin / Wallace Gallery, New York

September, 15 – October, 10, 2010

Esra Ersen, Katia Kameli, Maya Schweizer

Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin
Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin

Here & There is an exhibition co curated by Mary Cremin and Catherine Bernard featuring three artists Esra Ersen, Katia Kameli and Maya Schweizer whose video works explore the themes of immigration, displacement and the space between cultures. Their video works question the very notion of belonging to a specific culture.

The artists in Here and There discuss the passage from one culture to another and explore the space born from their intersection. They also question the concepts of borders, national identity and cultural heritage by reflecting upon the notions of displacement, exile and its implications. The immediacy of the medium, the documentary component and the integration of time and movement, all characteristics of video, generate a particularly pertinent frame to articulate these themes.

As migration became a central dynamic in the history of post WWII societies, immigrants were the agents of profound social changes and pioneered the creation of transnational identities. They also faced rejection, suspicion and invisibility, as they became parts of the workforce and of the cultural landscape of their host societies. Since then, economic globalization, the expansion of transnational corporations, the broader and faster communication systems, and more recently climatic changes and political crisis are fostering even larger movements of populations, from South to North and East to West. The consequences: resistance, hybridization, clashes or integration process are all part of a transformative dynamic that helps reshape and redefine our socio-cultural space while bringing into it a pluricultural dimension.

Wallace Gallery, New York
Wallace Gallery, New York

Esra Ersen, Katia Kameli, Maya Schweizer interpret and contextualize these issues in light of their distinct experience and diverse backgrounds and speak up about their implications and relevance for contemporary societies.




Carlos Garaicoa: Overlapping

Irish Museum of Modern Art 

June 10 –  September 5, 2010

Carlos Garaicoa, Installation
Carlos Garaicoa, Installation

An exhibition by one of Cuba’s leading contemporary artists Carlos Garaicoa, whose work explores the social fabric of our cities through the examination of its architecture, . Carlos Garaicoa brings together new and recent works comprising sculpture, installation, drawing, video and photography, which explore the themes of architecture and urbanism, politics and history, and narrative and human culture. Since the early 1990s Garaicoa has developed his multi-faceted practice as a means to critique modernist utopian architecture and the collapse of 20th-century ideologies using the city as his point of departure. Adopting the city of Havana as his laboratory, his works are charged with provocative commentaries on issues such as architecture’s ability to alter the course of history, the failure of modernism as a catalyst for social change and the frustration and decay of 20th-century utopias.

My Private Obsessions, 2009 Intallation
My Private Obsessions, 2009

Garaicoa spends time exploring cities to discover their true meaning, he often illustrates his vision in large installations using various materials such as crystal, wax candles and rice-paper lamps. In No Way Out, 2002, a city at night is constructed through various scales of illuminated rice-paper lamps, while the materials in this work reference Japan, the uniformity of the city landscape alludes to a universal situation common to all cities worldwide. In The Crown Jewels, 2009, miniature replicas of real-life torture centres, prisons and intelligence networks are cast in silver and in Bend City (Red), 2007, a city is constructed entirely from cut cardboard.

Havana, the extraordinary city where he grew up, is a particular source of inspiration for Garaicoa’s work and it is from this city’s complicated development that his preoccupation with the detritus of the cityscape developed. After the Cuban revolution in 1959, many architectural projects and buildings were left unfinished or abandoned, in Havana and in other Cuban cities. This juxtaposition of architectural projects halted and abandoned, and the buildings of the colonial period, create a narrative of a complex political history that scars the landscape. Garaicoa refers to these as ‘ruins of the future, where ruins are proclaimed before they even get to exist’. Garaicoa addresses these collapsed buildings in his black-and-white photographs by pairing them with a second image that reconstructs the missing parts with coloured threads and pins. By illustrating the absence of these once-great structures, Garaicoa emphasises the reality of these failed utopias. His interest in urban ruins has expanded from the cities of Cuba to cities around the world from LA to Paris to Moscow.

Garaicoa directly references iconic texts and writers through the titles of his pieces as well as within the sculptural works themselves, particularly the concept of the city as a symbolic space as it appears in the work of the writers Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. In On how my brazilian library feeds itself with fragments of a concrete reality, 2008, publications on Brazilian architecture, landscape and culture are stacked in rows interspersed with cement blocks. The front of the sculpture reveals the books spines while the back shows a number of bullets inserted into the cement. In her essay for the catalogue Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy describes this work “As if it has been attacked, the sculpture sets in motion ideas of urban development and the weight and the wounds of progress”. The use of books is repeated in the works My personal Library Grows-up Together with My Political Principles, 2008, where architectural publications are assembled to form the framework of a city landscape and Monsieur Haussmann, la perfection n’existe pas, 2009, where a stack of copies of the book Paris-Haussmann are placed on a plinth with the exposed paper at the base of the books inscribed with the plan of Place de l’Etoile in Paris. Baron Haussmann was famous for his creation of modern Paris, with its boulevards and grand vistas designed for the bourgeoisie of Paris representing his ideal utopian city, but not necessarily the reality.

The Crown Jewels, 2009 Installation
The Crown Jewels, 2009

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1967, Carlos Garaicoa trained initially as a thermodynamics engineer before his mandatory military service. While in the army he worked as a draughtsman, learning the skills the he would use later in his practice as an artist. He attended the Havana Instituto Superior de Arte in Cuba from 1989 to 1994. Garaicoa has exhibited extensively around the world, recent exhibitions include the Venice Biennale, 2009; Havana Biennale, 2009; La Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, 2008; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, 2007; the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 2006, and Documenta II, Kassel, 2002. He lives and works in Havana and Madrid.

Francis Alÿs: le Temps du Sommeil

Irish Museum of Modern Art

February 26 – May 23, 2010

le temps du sommeil, installation view
le temps du sommeil, installation view

The  exhibition comprising a series of 111 small-scale paintings by the Belgian-born artist Francis Alÿs, one of the most original artists working today. Francis Alÿs: Le temps du sommeil has been described as a storyboard or archive of Alÿs’s highly imaginative oeuvre, much of which takes as its starting point simple actions performed by the artist and documented in photographs, film or by other means such as postcards. These actions, involving strange objects and fruitless exercises, frequently suggest the dreamlike state of the exhibition’s title, which could translate as “sleep time”. They are also incorporated into the exhibition in the form of accompanying texts, many derived from the artist’s postcards.

Le temps du sommeil was begun in 1995 and continues today as an ongoing body of work. The technique is consistent throughout. The figures or other images in the paintings begin as drawings on tracing paper, which are then transferred onto a miniature oval landscape with golden green grass and a darkened, olive green sky. In each case this scene is surrounded by a rich Venetian red ground, built up in layers with the whole measuring no more than 11.5 by 15 cms. Alÿs compares the oval with the veduta of early Italian Renaissance paintings, a special distant scene inserted into a larger landscape. Each painting is dated with a rubber stamp, underlining the narrative aspect of the series and providing a kind of diary of the artist’s fantasies and obsessions.

Several of the paintings have an obvious connection with Alÿs’s recorded actions. The man walking along carrying a leaking can of paint, echoes the artist’s 1995 action The Leak, in which he roamed the streets of Ghent with a punctured paint can leaving a trail back to the gallery, where he mounted the empty can on the wall. Another painting calls to mind Alÿs’s epic 2002 project, When Faith Moves Mountains, which took place near the Peruvian capital Lima. This involved 500 volunteers who, armed only with shovels, moved a 1,600-foot sand dune just four inches from its original location. The change in the landscape was minute, but Alÿs ‘s concern was with its relationship to the prevailing social and political situation at once “futile and heroic, absurd and urgent”.

le temps du sommeil, installation view
le temps du sommeil, installation view

In 2004 the artist described the place of painting in his work: “What justifies my recourse to painting is that it’s the shortest way – or the only way – to translate certain scenarios or situations that cannot be said, that cannot be filmed or performed. It’s about entering a situation that could not exist elsewhere, only on the paper or canvas. They are images, and I want for them to live as such. Like in a children’s book.” In June of this year the series will travel to Tate Modern, London, as part of a retrospective of Alÿs’s key works, which will also be shown at Wiels, Brussels, and at MoMA, New York.

le temps du sommeil, installation view
le temps du sommeil, installation view

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1959, Francis Alÿs studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium and at the Instituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice. Since 1986 he has made his home in Mexico and has been particularly associated with Mexico City’s historic centre where his studio is located. His work has been extensively shown worldwide, recent exhibitions include in 2009 – Shanghai Art Museum; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela; in 2008 – KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, and Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. As Alÿs’s international reputation has grown many of his projects have taken place at the invitation of museums, for example, The Modern Procession, created in 2002, to mark the temprorary move of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, from Manhattan to Queens.