EVA International – Ireland's Biennial 2016 Edition –, curated by Koyo Kouoh, took place in Cleeve’s Condensed Milk Factory.
LARRY ACHIAMPONG AND DAVID BLANDY
Finding Fanon 1 & 2 (both 2015)
The two works exhibited for EVA International 2016 are the first and second parts in a series of works inspired by the lost plays of Frantz Fanon (1925–61), a politically radical humanist whose practice dealt with the psychopathology of colonization and the social and cultural consequences of decolonization. In 'Finding Fanon 1', the two artists negotiate Fanon’s ideas, examining the politics and affect of race, racism, and the postcolonial. The conflict between these societal issues is played out through a script that melds found texts and personal testimony, transposing their drama to a junkyard houseboat at an unspecified time in the future. Navigating the past, present, and future, Achiampong and Blandy question the promise of globalization by recognizing the impact it has on their own heritage. 'Finding Fanon 2' collides art-house cinema with digital culture's gaming- and media- streaming website 'Machinima'. The result is a work that explores the postcolonial condition from inside a simulated environment - 'The Grand Theft Auto 5' in-game video editor. This video work combines several stories, including how the artists' familial histories relate to colonial history, an examination of how their relationship is formed through the virtual space, and thoughts on the implications of the post-human condition.
Larry Achiampong (b. 1984, United Kingdom) and David Blandy (b. 1976, United Kingdom) have worked collaboratively since 2013. To highlight our relationship with popular culture and to investigate what makes us who we are, David Blandy works with imagery found in the digital world – from YouTube tutorials and music videos to television series, anime, and the narrative sections of computer games. Within each work – from large-scale installation to single-screen work – he deconstructs the form, placing himself as the alienated subject in a prefabricated cultural archetype. Throughout this process Blandy questions our relationship with the narratives that surround and shape us to find out what forms the contemporary collective unconscious. Larry Achiampong’s practice uses sound, live performance, and imagery to explore the representations of identity in the digital age and the dichotomies found within a world dominated by Facebook / Tumblr / YouTube–based cultures. He searches the vaults of history, splicing audible and visual qualities of the personal and interpersonal archive-as-material, offering multiple dispositions to reveal the sociopolitical contradictions in contemporary society.
Reason’s Oxymoron (2015)
With an eighteen-channel video installation, Attia created an expansive video library containing interviews with philosophers, ethnologists, historians, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, musicologists, patients, healers, fetishists, and griots. Each of the volumes is edited under different themes, such as ‘genocide’, ‘totem and fetish’, ‘reason and politics’, or ‘trance’. Taken either individually or as a whole, they offer commentary on psychiatric pathology as perceived in traditional non-Western cultures, on the one hand, and in modern Western societies, on the other. In its mix of rational explanations and irrational representations of what the West calls psychiatry, the work is particularly concerned with the question of the irreparable, inherent in the idea of ‘repair’, and calls into question the ambivalence of the psyche of modern Western societies towards traditional non-Western societies.
The work evidences the legacy of modernity as a Western-inflicted – and imported – notion, in which frictions amid traditional and occidental societies occur. Attia questions the slippery border between rationality and irrationality, between science and metaphysics, between belief and mistrust. The conflicting perceptions of (in)sanity highlight the difficulties in healing psychological injuries. There is no definitive solution to soothe the burden of pain, and especially wounds inferred by historical events like colonization.
Kader Attia (b. 1970, France) lives and works in Berlin. Attia grew up in both Algeria and in the suburbs of Paris. This experience of being part of two cultures is used as a starting point from which to develop a dynamic practice that reflects on the aesthetics and ethics of different cultures. Attia’s work explores the impact of Western cultural and political capitalism on the Middle East and North Africa, and considers how this residual strain of struggle and resistance to colonisation affects Arab youth, particularly those living in the banlieues (suburbs) of France.
In Search of the Exotic (2016)
The work draws on ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ (1898), a poem written by the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy (which also inspired the biennial’s curator, Koyo Kouoh, to title this edition of EVA International Still (the) Barbarians). At the time of writing the poem, Cavafy was living in Alexandria, Egypt, which was under British rule until its declaration of independence in 1922. This site-specific wall sculpture comprises letters, made from wooden pallets that are tinted with black ink. The work refers to the central verse of Cavafy’s poem: ΕΙΝΑΙ ΟΙ ΒΑΡΒΑΡΟΙ ΝΑ ΦΘΑΣΟΥΝ ΣΗΜΕΡΑ. The line translates as: ‘The barbarians are due here today.’ Questioning the modes of cultural perception through language, the artwork subverts the notion of the barbarian through the appropriation of Cavafy’s verse. Although, the exotic exists as a place – a Wunderkammer – or holiday destination, it is at the same time a place (or rather a means) of resistance to stereotypes, to homogenized cultures carried by hegemonic attitudes.
While transnational corporations, religious beliefs and oligarchic models aim to uniform and promote an imagery of the same, the exotic finds its way to resistance through language as a safeguard of cultural identity. Thus, the use of Cavafy’s verse in its original language reiterates the notion of exotic and resists sameness. What would happen if we were all the same? Who would be the barbarian then, who would the other be? What would be the condition to differ us from the others? And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? They were, those people, a kind of solution.
FRMAWREOK FAMREWROK FRMWRAOEK FMRAEOWRK FWRREOMAK FEARMOWRK FORAMRWEK FWMAOERRK FOMARERWK FEMORWARK FMRWREAOK (2016)
The piece is an attempt to produce a comprehensive collection of all of the images that social science fabricates to explain the unexplainable. The work is presented as a space, a room covered entirely in diagrams printed on wallpaper. The figures and tables lining the walls have been sourced from peer-reviewed academic journals. Each and every diagram in this growing collection is concerned with the question of terrorism. Sociologists, economists, game theorists, political scientists, and psychologists attempting – with their own theories and tools – to design models to make sense of terrorism, an elusive concept that escapes both rationalization and understanding. Surrounding the viewer are 413 figures and tables, including: a diagram that maps the organizational genealogy of the Japanese Red Army; a panel that proposes a game-theory modelization of terrorist negotiations; and behavioural styles in aerial hijackings. An accompanying subdued monotone voice recites an alphabet or alphabétaire of terminologies extracted from the same journals.
Extract S for Sunset: ‘Even in liberal democracies, powers granted to the government in the name of imminent terrorism are seldom rescinded when the threat recedes. It is therefore important to write into any statute or regulation conferring extraordinary powers on the government a sunset clause describing the time and method of demobilization, placing the burden for extending the mobilization squarely on the government's ability to produce credible and specific information of imminent threat.
Eric Baudelaire (b. 1973, Salt Lake City, USA) is a visual artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Paris. With a background in the social sciences, Baudelaire has spent several years in research institutes reading theory and combing through archives, studying theoretical models intended to shed light on past histories, and advocating policies of governance to deal with future crises.
Destroy your house, build up a boat, save life (2015)
The title is a quotation taken from the story of the Great Flood found on ‘The Epic of Atrahasis,’ written on a Babylonian cuneiform tablet. According to the inscription, the god Enlil (ruler of the air, wind, and storms) plans to destroy humans by sending a devastating flood. Yet the god Enki (ruler of waters) sends warning of this impending catastrophe to Atrahasis (a mortal) and instructs him to build a boat to protect and save life from the rising waters. The description of this imaginary boat, also known as ‘Noah’s Ark’, becomes an instrument for Büyüktaşçıyan to connect land and sea, life and death, loss and perseverance, past and future, the known and unknown. When Enki asks Atrahasis to pack up his life, Atrahasis does not know where the journey and his boat will end up, so he sets sail for the unknown. Büyüktaşçıyan nods towards this uncertain future by appropriating a ceiling painting originally made for a domestic dwelling in the Siniossoglou apartment building in Istanbul. The building now houses the SALT Beyoğlu gallery.
This suggestive landscape is collated across rolled carpets, invoking both the act of packing-up and the quiet belief that one can lay the foundations for a new home with just a carpet. The local area, then known commonly as Pera, was witness to a massive forced exodus of minority populations in the mid-twentieth century. The sudden departure of the original dwellers of the Siniossoglou apartment, which occurred around 1955, adds another layer of narrative to the list of ruptures evoked by the installation.
Hera Büyüktaşçıyan (b. 1984, Istanbul) graduated from Marmara University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Painting department in 2006. To weave connections between identity, memory, space, and time, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan considers the absent or invisible figure of the other. She is a storyteller, integrating metaphors from historic and iconographic elements to open up new narratives. Water is a recurring theme in her practice, referring to what the artist understands as the fluid, aquatic nature of memory.
The piece offers an analogy between the colonial effects of diaspora and the behaviour of migratory Starlings. 'Murmuration' focuses on mass dispersion and subsequent unity through ‘collective behaviour’ of individuals that attempt to overcome such situations. A murmuration is a large flock of Starlings that come together in the winter months. By mid-winter the population of these birds in Ireland swells, with up to half a million roosting together in some places. These gatherings are boosted by thousands of migrant birds returning from Europe for the milder Atlantic climate. Migrant Starlings from Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Germany, Poland, and Russia join the Irish residents. Each evening, just before dusk, this huge gathering performs a unified aerial dance as they prepare to roost. Costello has captured the spectacle of the Starlings’ dance in a silent twenty-minute shot that loops continuously. They twist and turn and change direction at a moment’s notice. They swarm together in a system that depends upon the interrelationships between each individual bird – it is an example of emergent behaviour that also confuses and deters predators.
Criodhna Costello (b. 1979, Dublin) is an artist who lives and works in London. Her PhD research at Royal College of Art, London, focuses on the ‘moving-image loop’ and explores a relationship between theories of temporality and the history of the moving image. In her works she explores representations of time through the looping of images, where repetition is not a supplementary accumulation, but instead an essential operation. With minimal action, no dramatic subjects, and no climax, these moving-image works address the viewer through spectacular displays and movement rather than action or plot. Within these works, the loop acts as an interruption to the linear forward movement; scenes are repeated and re-articulated through editing. This temporality interrupts the progression of cause and effect. The universe that these loops create is that of a perpetual present.
When I Leave These Landings (2004–09), 'Go Home' (2010–13), and 'Out the Road' (2012–16)
These interconnecting film installations trace the impact of militant ideological conviction on the self and family through a series of sustained conversations with a group of IRA anti-Agreement* republican activists and their families. Developed with the participants over twelve years, these significant and sensitive works evolved from Cummins’ work with political prisoners in Portlaoise Prison, a maximum-security prison in County Laois. The conversation begins in prison with 'When I Leave These Landings'. It continues after the men’s release with 'Go Home', and extends to include the men’s families in Out the Road. The works offer an intimate examination of political violence, imprisonment, failure, and the impact of ideological conviction.
They refuse familiar tropes of propaganda, sentimentalism, ideological certainty, and knee-jerk de-legitimation for either personal or political reasons, instead probing these difficult territories with those involved in paramilitary organizations and highlighting the effect of that involvement on both themselves and their families. Part of this process also involves reflecting upon ageing and the self-questioning that accompanies this. The far-reaching impact on family also reveals the complex and sometimes tragic nature of the love of families, who are often invisible in debates about political violence and imprisonment. Moving between the time in prison and that time of transition shortly after release, the films ask us to grapple with a difficult present and our relationship with our collective past, and to wonder about our future together. * Good Friday Agreement/Belfast Agreement, 1998
Jonathan Cummins (b. 1968, Ireland) graduated in 1998 with an MFA in media art from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he also studied screenwriting.
Trip to Mount Zuqualla (2015)
The work is a video installation (a complex three-channels projection) of a pilgrimage shot in Ethiopia. Mount Zuqualla is an extinct volcano in the Oromia region. Both the mountain and its lake are considered holy to both Christians and the once-pagan Oromo – the single largest ethnicity in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa – who live nearby. The lake in the crater has an island monastery that is the site of a biannual festival. The ambivalent attitude towards the holiness of the mountain is seen in the Oromo proverb: ‘Those who live far away worship it, those who live nearby plough it.’ Eshetu’s video documents the dialogue and coexistence of two belief systems: each year pilgrims come together to celebrate the moment of conversion from Animism to Christianity. With respectful distance and intimacy, Eshetu depicts the religious ceremonies of both parties, whose high point generates the celebration of the coming together of both groups.
The accompanying soundtrack is composed of hip hop, religious songs, and a Bach symphony to underline the differences and similarities of both pilgrim groups. A Coptic religious procession in the hills of Ethiopia is presented as a soulful, spiritual experience that is suddenly interjected by the beat of urban rap music. When the hypnotic effect of religious chimes gives way to harsh street music, we are inspired to consider the stark contrast between deep-rooted religious traditions and the world of hip hop and rap. Eshetu creates an intense visual effect by presenting the film in a multiscreen format, thus enhancing the play between different colours and patterns. As viewers, the overlapping and repeating images gesture towards the hybrid experience of many diasporic artists around the world. The film highlights the intersection between past and present, the religious and the secular, the ancestral and the everyday – the meeting point between two distinct cultures.
Theo Eshetu (b. 1958, London) is an artist who lives and works in Berlin.
TOM FLANAGAN AND MEGS MORLEY
A History of Stone, Origin and Myth (2016)
Within the shifting political and cultural landscape of 2016, the work is a non-narrative essay film that draws unlikely connections between the creation of monuments, the material of stone, and the creation of memory and power. Shaped within the turbulent transition from the colonial to the postcolonial, and from the national to post-national, the film explores the space between individual memory and national history through the lens of political monuments found throughout Ireland that relate to the Irish rebellion, the 1916 Easter Rising, and the foundation of the state. Despite the mundane and often unnoticed appearance of these monuments within the contemporary landscape, the cultural contestations that these sculptural edifices represent do not end once they are created. These monuments exist as public representations of political power and cultural authority, providing visual allegories of the attempt to carve collective memory into certain histories, often through the forgetting or erasing of other histories.
The monuments are often the site and focus of conflict, and are sometimes opposed with counter monuments, defaced, re-appropriated, deposed, or destroyed. Moving fluidly between analysis and speculation, the film cinematically weaves a complex relationship between these symbolic figurative representations, their material form, the processes of their making, and the wider ongoing processes of memory, history, and identity creation. These are pertinent issues that have come to light once more, as the nation marks the centenary of the Easter Rising.
Tom Flanagan (b. 1981, Ireland) and Megs Morley (b. 1981, Ireland), currently based in Galway, both received a BA Fine Art Sculpture at the Limerick School of Art and Design, before completing Masters in Visual Arts Practices in Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology in 2008. Their collaborative work is an ongoing exploration of the language of cinema and its relationship to political power and collective memory.
YONG SUN GULLACH
Re-enacting the Transnational Adoptee (2015)
Gullach's work is a thirty-minute performance in which Yong Sun emancipates her own body by embodying mental processes of the transnational adoptee. After a ritual of what she calls ‘de-dressing’, she starts a battle against dust, paper, and time, and attaches texts, textile objects, and sound to her own body. As the artist frantically wraps her body in white, she visualizes her role and identification as an adoptee in a Western society. This process raises questions about birth, becoming, trade, renewed body, consequences, truth, and the reclamation of lost culture. The performance displays how the subject is framed and displaced within the scope of transnational adoption through an attempt to emancipate the adopted body by re-performing the circumstances of the process and the constant battle of the right to self-definition for the adoptee’s self. The artist is at risk of being seen as ungrateful, as victimizing her position, and as being disloyal to the Western culture that integrated her.
The performance uses rituals and theatre to frame the history of transnational adoptions, which is closely linked to the history of Western colonization, and emphasizes the structural suppression and injustices inherited from the past.
Yong Sun Gullach (b. 1967, Korea) is a Korean-Danish artist and activist operating at the boundaries of performance, poetry, video, sound, and installation art. Her main themes investigate hidden or subconscious emotions and traumas to uncover stories that are embedded in everyday life. Her work stems from her own experiences of gender, race, identity, and nationality. ‘I do not construct reality – my body is reality,’ says Yong Sun about her practice in which she investigates a lack of self-understanding she or others might have and how to overcome such feelings that something is missing. Her aim is to create an impact by means of physical ‘traces’ left on other people’s memories, and to make this dialogue visible.
Unassigned Monuments, One Through Six (2013)
The piece is an installation based on changes of particular monumental forms. The sculptural objects relate to the photographs, either found or taken by the artist, and can be read as reconstructions, maquettes, or actual monuments. Employing prop-building techniques, exhibition-based image supports, industrial materials, and displays as sculptures, the collection of objects sits somewhere between a museum display and gallery exhibition. The bombing of Nelson’s Pillar in 1966 left a castrated space in the middle of Dublin’s O’Connell Street. A media image of the broken totem is shown alongside another obelisk devoted to a singular man: George Washington. The photograph of the Washington monument, taken circa 1860s, shows the unfinished construction of the structure that was halted because of lack of funds, an internal conflict, and the outbreak of the American Civil War. Once interest piqued around the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, building resumed. Each of the images shares a similar source of power, and in both cases the symbolism of the monuments have become increasingly pronounced over time.
Dorothy Hunter (b.1988, Magherafelt, Northern Ireland) lives and works in Belfast, received a BA (Hons) Fine Art from Falmouth University, Cornwall, in 2011. Her practice is rooted in the process of removal that accompanies inherited history and space, and the conflict of representation in both lived and declared history. Hunter utilizes space so as to straddle the different arenas of exhibiting (for example, between the art gallery and museum, storage and display). Using gathered materials (both personal and those found in the public domain) with more formally created abstract objects, she plays with the idea of sincerity behind the exhibition of works of art, the construction of the exhibition space, and how objects are placed. Specific times and spaces are aligned, perhaps incidentally or intentionally.
The installation creates a fictional account of the history of Palestine. Invoking a blue land ravaged by colonization, the work describes a dazzling geological phenomenon: vast quarries of raw indigo. In the work, Hutchison examines the uncertainty that pervades Palestine’s borders, topologies, and geopolitical status – the land itself becomes a vessel for the imagination. Hutchison says, ‘For centuries, Palestine was bright blue. Indigo mines ran through the earth, like open veins. Since the beginning of the Indigo Wars (1919–present), oxidization has taken place across the territory, causing a widespread bleaching of the landscape. Today, only one indigo mine remains in Palestine. It is owned by a denim factory, Al-Aqqad & Partner Fashions.’ To produce the work, Hutchison collaborated with the employees of Al-Aqqad & Partner Fashions, a denim producer based in Nablus, a city in the northern West Bank.
For six months, the factory had operated under the immediate sightline of an Israeli tank – its cannon pointed directly at the factory. To understand the physiological effect of these labour conditions, the artist commissioned the factory to manufacture jeans that represented what it was like to manufacture jeans at the factory.
Jeremy Hutchison (b. 1979, United Kingdom) graduated with a BA first-class honours from Bristol University in 2003. He received an MFA with distinction from the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Jeremy Hutchison’s practice uses performance to construct situations that disrupt the power relations established by global capital. In the work, crises generate uncertainty, a kind of humour – a momentary strangeness in the dominant order. Many projects hinge around the manufacture and circulation of objects as a way to critically inquire into material culture and the production of desire. Hutchison’s practice attempts to reconfigure reality – momentarily – to propose alternatives to the naturalized logic of our time.
The performance installation comprises a printer with a white bond paper roll inserted, a laptop connected to the printer, and A4 office paper. The printer remains switched on and images are sent from the artist’s smartphone to the laptop. The paper is stacked in a column to the maximum height of 1.7 metres, which matches the height of the artist. Paper is added in sections, approximately 10 centimetres wide each time. The column becomes unstable as it grows taller, and eventually the structure needs to be adjusted or supported. However, the artist has to leave the growing stack to gather more paper. At some point the stack cannot maintain its structure and collapses with a loud and powerful sound, as the paper hits the ground and disperses a length of approximately 5 to 8 metres. The artist replaces any paper she is holding at the time of the fall and leaves the room.
At the beginning of the next performance, the fallen papers from the previous performance are photographed on the artist’s smartphone, sent to the laptop, and printed out onto the roll of white paper. The obsolescence of the printer and error messages received from the printer make this activity problematic. The third performance begins with any of the remaining paper that was not stacked at the previous performance. The stack is inherently unstable as it builds up and has to be managed. It is a balance that infers a power struggle between two parties – the will of the many with its own purpose. After the paper has fallen, the remnants of the power struggle remain. The performance evokes the exact moment when there is a change from stability to instability, and this is repeated. The inevitable outcome is obvious but despite this there is an extraordinary tension that develops in waiting for the resolution.
Joanna Hutton (b. 1968) is a UK-based artist. She received a first-class BA (Hons) Fine Art degree from Northumbria University and an MFA in 2015 at BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art, Northumbria University.
The Cloud (2015)
Jaar's piece contemplates the hopeful voyage of millions of people who travel across the land every day in search of a better life. As we witness Europe’s anxious reaction to the current influx of migrants to its shores, Jaar’s work offers a dark, ominous and yet poetic vision of this phenomenon – it represents a watchful cloud in the sky over Europe. The cloud itself embodies water but in solid form and shape that moves across the land. It is a reminder that everything is interconnected and that confinement is not a solution. Clouds are a model of freedom. Clouds are the visible mass of otherwise invisible matter, which will ultimately evaporate in time. Clouds are impermanent. Arising from a reality of oblivion and rejection, this cloud over Europe is like an omen, an imminent downpour of new realities that we must face.
Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956, Santiago, Chile) is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who lives and works in New York City. In installations, photographs, films, and community-based projects, he explores the public’s desensitization to images and how art can represent and reflect on severe and merciless historical events. Jaar’s work bears witness to military conflicts, political corruption, and imbalances of power among industrialized and developing nations. To art critic Coline Milliard, Jaar said: ‘I strongly believe that artists are thinkers, as opposed to object makers. My working process is 99 percent thinking, and 1 percent making. That thinking process is at the core of what I do. And this process is always triggered by a specific site or issue. I am not a studio artist, I define myself as a project artist. I try to propose, with my projects, a creative model that responds to the particulars of a given situation”. “I believe that this is what artists do – with each project we propose a new conception of the world, and that new conception is a new way of looking at the world”.
Keyti and Xuman (2016)
Launched in April 2013, Journal Rappé is a ‘rapped’ news programme that became extremely famous in Senegal, in neighbouring countries, and abroad. Conceived as a humorous show that, in the beginning took the form of YouTube videos, the aim of the programme was to amuse and to interest young people, particularly, in the news, through a format and selection of information that is closer to Senegalese daily life. Taking the form of a rap song, and shot in two versions (French and Wolof), Journal Rappé lasts three to four minutes only (which is the average length of a song) and gives a review of the salient events of the week, both in Senegal and worldwide. ‘Welcome, take a seat, we have news for you. There are good ones, there are bad ones, but we have news for you’: the opening lines of every Journal Rappé. Then, the two news MCs (masters of ceremony) dissect political, social, and international matters, with a healthy dose of parody, rhythm, and music. Eight days after their first appearance on social networks, an official broadcaster decided to include the programme in their schedule.
Broadcast on 2STV every Friday night after the traditional news, and available the next day on YouTube, Xuman and Keyti’s JTR draws a very large audience, with tens of thousands of TV viewers and Internet followers posting hundreds of comments on Facebook and Twitter. Xuman and Keyti have an ambition to create an ‘African JTR’, that is, to produce a similar show in various African countries, as many rappers in other countries would be interested in participating to such a project. For the end of the first season of JTR, Mister X from Guinea and Tibou from Mauritania were guests of the show. Identified as ‘foreign correspondents’, each of the two rappers dissected news reports from their own country, ranging from political events to local gossip. For EVA International, a selection of their most emblematic videos is presented.
Journal Rappé is Xuman (b. 1974) and Keyti (b. 1972), two prominent Sengalese rappers who created Journal Télévisé Rappé (JTR).
Fracture (i) (2011)
The work references the transformations in Nairobi in relation to its violent colonial history. How does one adapt to the fast-economic transformations and the social norms the economies bear? The work takes the form of a performance, which has been recorded and projected in the space, and an installation. The objects that remain in the space are those used by Kyambi during the performance, and include pieces of pottery, a sisal costume, a dressing table, various objects (e.g., makeup, a wig, clothes), photographs, paintings, and various platforms, or ‘stages’, that represent different places and times. The sisal costume was developed using the traditional weaving method the Kamba used for making baskets. With this material, Kyambi references both traditional local craft, as well as colonial sisal plantations that existed in the early twentieth century. The plantations enforced limitations on Kenyans, taking away their right to financial security and denying them power. The ‘entity’ that wears this costume during the first section of the performance is destructive and aggressive, taking on a colonial energy.
The second phase of the installation-performance brings to life a contemporary woman named Rose, who comes from rural Kenya, an area of Kirinyaga, near Embu town, and wants to make it in the city. The photographs in the slide projection behind her dressing table depict Rose’s memories of her mother’s home and its surroundings. In the performance, Rose dresses for work, struggles to greet people, repeatedly falls – symbolically stumbling on the remains of a past destruction. She mourns the past and attempts to reassemble the broken pieces of pottery. At the end of the performance she faces the past, forsakes the new role she had built for herself, and accepts feelings of sorrow and agony. It is through this process that she can rediscover her life.
Syowia Kyambi (b. 1979, Nairobi, Kenya) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002.
LEUNG CHI WO
Untitled (Love for Sale) (2014)
It consists of apparently unrelated visual elements about the Chinese diaspora, the civil rights movement in the United Kingdom, and the 1996 IRA terrorist attack in Manchester. When the viewer pushes a button (a gold sovereign coin minted in 1996 that depicts St. George killing the dragon on the visible side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other) it triggers a chain of actions: music plays, and a large column of stacked newspapers collapses before being reassembled via an electronic mechanism. The viewer cannot see both elements together because they happen in separate parts of the installation, in different rooms. Next to the button, there is a light box and an engraving on aluminium that reads, ‘No politics today!’ – a quote from a Chinese student who shouted this when Taiwanese singer-songwriter Deserts Chang held up a Republic of China flag on stage during her live concert at the University of Manchester in 2003.
The image on the light box is the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, a venue for public meetings and political speeches as well as being a concert hall until 1996. The Free Trade Hall was an original site of struggles for democracy but was later sold to a private developer and turned into a five-star hotel, with only part of the original façade remaining. In Leung’s installation, Love for Sale by Ella Fitzgerald can be heard. Fitzgerald last performed at the Free Trade Hall on 8 April 1964, where Love for Sale was recorded with the Oscar Peterson Trio.
Leung Chi Wo (b. 1968, Hong Kong) graduated with a BA in Fine Arts in 1990, and an MFA in 1997, both from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Leung Chi Wo’s reflective practice is concerned with the relationship between conception, perception, and understanding, especially in relation to site and history within cultural or political frameworks. Leung’s research interests include art, architecture, Hong Kong identity, and institutional critique.
Cassandra's Necklace (2) (2016)
In Maher’s two-screen film, the viewer experiences this border space – a non-place and non-time – through which the young seer wanders. It is not known whether Cassandra is outside or inside, as she tests and tastes, measures and maps the limits of her world. Maher’s film reprises the figure of Cassandra to call forward the ‘despised’ of myth and history. Cassandra moves, she walks, she eats, but she never speaks. Her only company and adornment: a necklace of bloody tongues. In this version of the film, Cassandra’s voice is heard through the text of Anne Enright – a fragment of unpublished script, written in 1985.The words are spoken and sung by Jennifer Walshe in the multilayered soundscape composed by Trevor Knight. Maher considers the ‘voicing’ of Cassandra as particularly relevant in reflection of the unspoken history of women and their role within the founding and direction of Ireland’s Republic.
Alice Maher (b.1956, Ireland) is an artist who lives and works in Mayo, Ireland. Her work touches on a wide range of subjects often reprising, challenging, and expanding on both mythic and vernacular narratives. Her practice spans painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, animation, and video. There is often a playful collapse between high and low culture. One-off objects and organic pieces are revealed to have some unknown ritualistic use. Maher places histories and symbols of the female at the very centre of her work to, in a sense, reclaim them. In historical accounts, barbarians are generally located outside the borders of civilization, and in narratives of psychoanalysis, the feminine is often located in this outside-ness. Cassandra, a figure in Greek mythology, was a double outsider in that she was both a female and a barbarian. Her native city of Troy occupied the limits of Empire and had to be subjugated. At once loved and betrayed by the gods, Cassandra had the power to foresee the future, but was cursed since her prophecies were forever disbelieved.
Grey, Green, Gold (2015-2016)
The installation comprises a concrete plinth with a loupe and a seed, a slide projection, photographs, and a wallpaper image. The work refers to the following story: Nelson Mandela and his co-accused ANC comrades from the Rivonia Trial were imprisoned in a special section for political prisoners at Robben Island prison, off the Atlantic coast in Cape Town, for eighteen years from 1964 to 1982. In the prison, they established a garden that played an important role during their time there. It helped to hide the manuscript of Mandela’s biography, which was eventually published under the title Long Walk to Freedom in 1995. In the 1960s, rare yellow crane flowers were found at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town. These flowers of South African origin are usually orange in colour. A process of selective breeding was started, pollinating yellow flowers by hand with each other. It took almost twenty years to build up a stock of yellow crane flower seeds – and this coincided with the time Mandela spent in prison. In 1994, after Mandela became the first black president of South Africa, the flower was renamed ‘Mandela’s Gold’.
As Orlow once explained about the work: ‘A lot of my work is about small events or forgotten, invisible sites that obliquely refer to larger historical contexts. I don’t feel that I chose those stories or places but rather that they chose me. And more importantly it connects to something else. The seed refers to a new beginning, a new era after apartheid. But it also carries within it a reference to time; time spent in prison. And while Mandela was in prison, he and his fellow political prisoners created a garden in the prison courtyard. This garden played an important role. There is a connection between plants and history, plants as silent yet eloquent witnesses of history.’
Uriel Orlow (b. 1973, Zurich) is a Reader in Fine Art at Westminster University, London, Visiting Professor at Royal College of Art, London, and Visiting Artist at University of the Arts, Zurich.
The Conquest of the Happy Islands – A Colonial Opera (1983)
In the experimental film 'Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press' (1984), Ottinger takes up the character of Dorian Gray (played by Veruschka von Lehndorff) and uses him/her to explore the seamier side of Berlin night and street life. Ottinger’s Dorian Gray matches wits with none other than Dr. Mabuse, who has transformed from Fritz Lang’s underworld kingpin into an ambitious media tycoon (played by Delphine Seyrig). Central to the film is the ‘opera’ sequence that is set in a theatre and shows a baroque opera from colonial times. As Ottinger says about the work: ‘The illustrations painted on [the theatre frame] attest to the exoticism of the colonial opera. Scenes of an opera performed within the frame are set in the early stages of the Spanish Inquisition and deal with the conquest of the Isle of Bliss. It’s a multi-faceted construction: outside the frame there is the story of Frau Dr. Mabuse, the boss of an international media concern, and Dorian Gray, her student, victim, and rival. I placed the markedly artificial frame in a natural landscape...
... The curtain opens and nature becomes an operatic stage. Another shot shows a wall of rock with a cavity that with the addition of drapery becomes a theater box. From there, Dr. Mabuse and Dorian Gray watch themselves in the opera, in their roles on stage as Grand Inquisitor of Seville and the young Spanish Infant. There’s a view into the frame but also out from it. And there are the characters’ own views of themselves. Art frames nature: the sea in the background is real but the clouds and sky are painted parts of the frame. I like to work with these kinds of trompe-l’oeil effects. It creates the possibility to reflect the relationship between art and nature.’
Ulrike Ottinger (b. 1942, Konstanz, Germany) is a German filmmaker, documentarian photographer, and professor at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
In this work, Phelan mixes literal and symbolic references, presenting conflicting viewpoints and interpretations to undermine the certainty of cultural assumptions in a subtle way. Leopoldville considers the complex history surrounding the contradictions of (post)colonial humanitarian work through the history of Roger Casement who was executed in 1916. Growing up between England and Ireland, he eventually joined the British Colonial Service in Africa and became a champion of human rights and was knighted for his good work. On the other hand, he was also an Irish nationalist who was instrumental in the organization of the Irish Volunteers and a noted fundraiser for their cause. The work – an installation of several elements both inside and outside the gallery – focuses on the word ‘Léopoldville’, the former Belgian colonial name for Kinshasa. Rendered graphically to mimic Cadbury’s chocolate corporate logo, Léopoldville appears as an outdoor illuminated sign, made by shop sign fabricators. This piece conflates the benevolent financing of humanitarian work – William Cadbury’s funding of Casement’s investigations into the atrocities in the former Congo.
Casement revealed that tens of millions died under King Leopold II, who treated the Congo as his private fiefdom to be exploited for personal gain. The piece offers a counter-factual critique of big business and humanitarian crisis, misaligning good and bad to highlight the complicit nature between nation-states and multinational corporations. Correspondingly, a short video projected within one of the milk factory warehouses brings these various elements together within a series of questions posed to the CEO of a noted NGO. The conversation aims to tease out the humanitarian legacy of Roger Casement compared with contemporary international human-rights activism.
Alan Phelan (b. 1968, Ireland) is an Irish artist who studied at Dublin City University and Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. Alan’s practice involves the production of objects, participatory projects, curating, and writing.
The Question Would be the Answer to the Question, Are you happy (2009-2016)
Pierce’s work is a project she has restaged in different cities since 2011. For each chapter, a group of local university students gather to watch and discuss the 1961 film Chronique d’un été, by French anthropologist Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin. The filmmakers enlisted a cast of real characters to portray scenes from everyday life in Paris. The film is one of the first examples of cinema verité, a documentary style of filmmaking to convey candid realism. Chronique d’un été is presented with rudimentary English subtitles, which leaves much of the film ‘lost in translation’ to a non-French speaking audience. This symptom of misunderstanding becomes part of the larger work. The discussion following the film always takes place in a language other than English. An interpreter translates the conversation into English as it takes place and this imposing voice dominates the soundtrack, making it impossible to hear the conversation.
The role of the interpreter is at once flawed, schizophrenic, and at times obstructive, however the viewer only accesses the conversation through the interpreter’s intense commitment to remaining true to what is said. Writer and curator Chris Fite-Wassilak says of the work: Pierce is drawn to the potential of the transient and unfinished, hence the excavation of the political upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s, and the recurrence of the student – a figure whose role in society is that of the nascent adult, the perpetual being-in-formation. The examination of that potential is always deliberately but ambiguously framed, to foreground the inevitable mediation. Thus, in each city where 'The Question Would Be the Answer to the Question, Are You Happy?' was held, the recorded discussions respectively in French, Spanish and Danish between art, sociology and politics students was simultaneously translated live to English. Mediation, it seems, also involves distortion, loss and confusion.
Sarah Pierce (b. 1968, USA) is an artist who lives and works in Dublin.
Road Movie (2011)
The large-scale film installation depicts a system of segregated roads that has been built as part of the Israeli military control over the West Bank. There are roads for Jewish-Israeli settlers and roads for Palestinians; hence, the roads are commonly referred to as the ‘Apartheid Roads’. Public Studio travelled these roads for six months, filming each one and the impact this system has on people in their daily lives. Shot in stop-motion animation and projected onto both sides of the three staggered screens, the installation unfolds like a filmstrip. Viewers are invited to cross between the two ‘sides’ of the work, the front and the back.
Public Studio, based in Toronto, is a collaborative between Elle Flanders (b. 1966, Canada) and Tamira Sawatzky (b. 1969, Canada). Their work spans a wide range of topics including war, globalization, postcolonialism, and political dissent – results as large-scale public artworks, films, installations, lens-based works, and socially engaged projects.
Their photographs and immersive film installations consider the relationship between ethics and aesthetics and the role of aesthetic judgment. In their most recent work, they address crucial contemporary issues; for instance, 'Migrant Choir' (2015) was a choral intervention at the Venice Biennale in which twenty-two refugees sang three European national anthems (British, French, and Italian); 'Zero Hour' (2015), a 360-degree projection in a custom-built geodesic dome, considers the effects of climate change in the southern hemisphere due to northern extraction (presented together with a newly commissioned poem by artist Etel Adnan); 'Drone Wedding' (2014) is an eight-channel film installation that examines surveillance in our everyday lives; 'Visit Palestine: Change Your View' (2014) is a work where they turned their art studio into a travel agency, which ran tours to the West Bank; and What Isn’t Conceived while Public Movement were living in Palestine.
Joe Ouakam, Le Berger (2016)
The film follows the path of seminal Senegalese artist Issa Samb, who is one of the founding members of the Laboratoire Agit’Art. Samb is an internationally recognized artist known for his groundbreaking, interdisciplinary work that encompasses sculpture, performance, painting, and theatre. Samb has joined the long tradition of artists who do not produce artworks. He is an artist who instead constructs their own life as a personal masterpiece – sometimes it is even their sole work of art – because they do not need to create artworks to be seen as artists by their contemporaries. An artwork may occasionally be produced or never at all, but either way this has nothing to do with their status as artists. Samb carries on this ancient tradition with aplomb and, by giving Senegal a key role in this peculiar global history of ‘artists without anything’, he invites all of us to ask what dreams we have in common or what drives us to persist in producing, accumulating, hoarding, selling, buying, earning, overtaking, conquering. With 'Joe Ouakam, le Berger', Ramangeli pays tribute to a man he knows well, who he sees as inspirational.
As Ramangeli explains – as Diogenes did in ancient Athens – Samb astounds contemporary Dakar with his decision to live an excellent life out of nothing, a beautiful life without anything: no salary, no sales, no home of his own, no luggage when he travels, no electricity in the centre of Dakar, no appliances old or new, no telephone, no boss, no guide, no obligations. He often lives without speaking, without eating, and of course always without working, without … anything. Samb does not reprimand other people for using things he does not use himself. He doesn’t rebuke anyone or anything. As devoted as he is to evaporation, scarcity, frugality, and emptiness – to nothingness. He has one treasure in abundance: his love of other people and of universal liberty.
Ican Ramageli (b. 1988, Senegal) is an artist who works with video, photography, performance, painting, and music.
The Site Where a Future Never Took Place (2015)
The piece is a moving-image work exhibited within the stark industrial architecture of the former Cleeve’s Condensed Milk Factory. Rice’s video is part of a body of work that discusses Western Hats Ltd., a textile and hat manufacturer that operated between 1942 and 1981 in the West of Ireland. This was an industry that emerged during the formative years of the Irish State, just over twenty years after the 1916 rising. In an effort to establish Ireland’s future as a prosperous postcolonial country, then-Minister for Trade and Employment Sean Lemass and Senator John McEllin visited Europe as part of a trade-seeking mission in 1937. They visited France and Belgium one year prior to Kristallnacht and the eventual outbreak of World War II, and convinced a number of Jewish-led textile industries to liquidate their assets and move operations to Ireland, a country of relative safety and neutrality. Three industries in the West of Ireland were established in this manner.
Jewish experts were offered positions in the form of ‘technical roles’ that would inevitably guarantee their safety during the war years, granting them exile in the country of Ireland. Ireland’s refugee policy at that time was poor compared with neighbouring England. A mere sixty families were offered exile in Ireland and approximately half of those people were linked to the textile and hat-making factories. Through varied research methods, Rice seeks to determine whether the means by which these industries were established were philanthropic in nature or an opportunistic undertaking that capitalized upon a volatile situation in Europe. 'The Site Where a Future Never Took Place' focuses on the derelict site that once housed this industry, the dilapidated factory building and extracted bricks are all that remains of this little-known aspect of Irish history
Amanda Rice (b. 1985, Ireland) is a visual artist based in Ireland. Amanda works with moving image, photography, and installation.
Stamp 1980, Mozambique, Uhuru (2014)
The mixed-media installation displays a set of literary, pedagogical, and cinematic references taken from Mozambique’s history. Uhuru is the Swahili word for freedom – that is, freedom to work on one’s own land. Following the establishment of liberation movements in Mozambique the word uhuru took on greater significance, assuming the full meaning of national independence. An original official stamp from 1980 and documentation from the film archive are presented within the exhibition space. A collection of photograms shown references the work of Jean Luc Godard, Jean Rouch, and Ray Guerra. By unfolding a chain of relationships between films and the interference of colonial countries in their production, financing, and organization, Simão deals with a political reframing of these films. Through research and artistic intervention informed by cinematic representations from the Mozambique archive, she raises questions about representation in a culture with a colonial legacy.
Catarina Simão (born 1972, Lisbon, Portugal) is an artist and independent researcher based in Lisbon. She’s dedicated to the study of the political use of images. Her practice is shaped by long-term research projects that manifest as essay-like displays, combining archival film, photography, and video assemblages of old propaganda films produced during the struggle against Portuguese colonial occupation In 2009 Simão travelled to Maputo, Mozambique, where she encountered the state film archive. Over the past seven years, she has created a frame of research focusing on the archive, which was founded shortly after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The new government considered cinema as a powerful tool to fight against imperialism, and as a result the archive contains socialist propaganda films from the 1970s and early ’80s. Through the archive, Simão accessed imagery that offers a radically different construction of European colonial history.
Curator: Koyo Kouoh
Still (the) Barbarians Venues and Exhibiting Artists
Limerick City Gallery of Art (Pery Square, Limerick):
Pio Abad, Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Kostas Bassanos, Tiffany Chung, Godfried Donkor, Samuel Erenberg, Mary Evans, Carsten Höller, Kapwani Kiwanga, Abdoulaye Konaté, Charles Lim Yi Yong, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Bradley McCallum, Naeem Mohaiemen, Otobong Nkanga, Willem de Rooij, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, John Waid
Cleeve’s Condensed Milk Factory (O’Callaghan Strand, Limerick)
Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Kader Attia, Kostas Bassanos, Eric Baudelaire, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Criodhna Costello, Jonathan Cummins, Theo Eshetu, Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley, Carsten Höller, Dorothy Hunter, Jeremy Hutchison, Joanna Hutton, Alfredo Jaar, Journal Rappé, Syowia Kyambi, Leung Chi Wo, Alice Maher, Uriel Orlow, Ulrike Ottinger, Alan Phelan, Sarah Pierce, Public Studio, Ican Ramageli, Amanda Rice, Catarina Simão
The Hunt Museum (Rutland Street, Limerick):
Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Carsten Höller, Johannes Phokela
The Sailor’s Home (O’Curry Street, Limerick):
King John’s Castle (Nicholas Street, Limerick)
Vo Tran Chau
Mother Macs (High Street, Limerick)
Performances (various locations)
Liam Gillick (14 to 17 April, then every Thursday through 14 July), Yong Sun Gullach (15 April), Journal Rappé (15 April), Syowia Kyambi (15 to 16 April), Pádraic E. Moore (15 April), Deirdre Power and Softday (24 April), Tracey Rose (15 April)
Still (the) Barbarians included new commissions and presentations by: Kostas Bassanos, Eric Baudelaire, Godfried Donkor, Mary Evans, Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley, Liam Gillick, Carsten Höller, Michael Joo, Abdoulaye Konaté, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Charles Lim Yi Yong, Alice Maher, Pádraic E. Moore, Alan Phelan, Johannes Phokela, Deirdre Power and Softday (Sean Taylor and Mikael Fernström), Willem de Rooij, Tracey Rose, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, John Waid.