EVA International – Ireland's Biennial 2016 Edition –, curated by Koyo Kouoh, took place in Limerick City Gallery of Art, The Hunt Museum, The Sailor’s Home, King John’s Castle and Mother Macs.
The Collection of Jane Ryan and William Saunders (2014–15)
Installation of two parts that includes a series of fifty-one photographs of Georgian- and Regency-era silverware that appeared in a Christie’s auction catalogue for the ‘Magnificent Silver’ sale in New York on the 10th of January 1991. The silverware was part of a large haul of artwork and antiques sequestered from the Marcos collection that was sold in an attempt to recoup the country’s losses from the couple’s kleptocratic reign. This hoard of unused silverware reveals the true intentions of the Philippine dictators: behind their proclamations of postcolonial self-realization was the desire to establish a royal court, one fuelled by visions of European cultural heritage filtered through a Hollywood lens. An interpretation of the Communist flag is shown alongside the photographs, the workers’ hammer replaced with an auction gavel.
The Christie’s sale was intended to fund the Philippine revolutionary government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme, a land redistribution exercise aimed at quelling the country’s Communist insurgency. The auction continued on the following day. Acting on behalf of the Philippine government, Christie’s sold paintings that had been acquired by the Marcos using ill-gotten public money and sequestered by new government after the pair were forced out of office in February 1986. The painting collection, which included works by Raphael, El Greco, and Titian, sold for a total of 15.4 million dollars. Abad has reproduced images from the auction catalogue to create ninety-eight different postcards so that each artwork is available to the public; the seized collection finally free for the taking.
Pio Abad (b. 1983, Manila, Philippines) is an artist who lives and works in London. Working across drawing, sculpture, installation, and photography, he uses strategies of appropriation to mine alternative or repressed historical events, unravel official accounts, and to draw out threads of complicity among incidents, ideologies, and people.
PHILIP AGUIRRE Y OTEGUI
Cabinet Mare Nostrum' (Cabinet of the Mediterranean Sea, 2016)
Installation in which Aguirre y Otegui presents a selection of drawings, etchings, collages, models, and small sculptures made between 1990 and 2016 that focus on contemporary migrations. The installation is conceived as becoming immersed in the studio and is presented both at the Limerick City Gallery of Art and at the Hunt Museum. With this display, Aguirre y Otegui invites the viewer to think about migration, colonial conflicts, the issue of water, geopolitical issues, and the role of the artist.
Philip Aguirre y Otegui (b. 1961, Belgium), whose work comprises sculptures, assemblages, and drawings, lives and works in Antwerp. His sculptures are mostly made from traditional materials, such as bronze, terracotta, wood, clay, and plaster. Reflecting a profound sense of human tragedy, Aguirre y Otegui’s work frequently draws inspiration from political events, and above all from conflicts linked to migration and the human being as refugee.
With his sculpture entitled 'Fallen Dictator' (2005) – which looks like a sculpture of a dictator that has been knocked down – Aguirre y Otegui refers to monument of King Leopold II, who colonized the Congo at the end of the nineteenth century. An important and recurring subject in Aguirre y Otegui’s work is water. Water is vital for all human beings, but can also be used as an economical tool for power and a geopolitical weapon. In 1991 he worked on a series of etchings that proposed how to divide the water in the world in an honest way. In 2013 his monumental artwork 'Théâtre Source' was inaugurated in Douala, Cameroon. In one of the most miserable slums of Douala, Aguirre y Otegui became fascinated by a drinkable water source where thousands of families came daily. Aguirre y Otegui transformed this site into a beautiful amphitheatre, which functions now as meeting place and village square, after considered improvements to both accessibility and hygiene.
An archaeology project for future remembrance (2013)
For this work, Chung conducted research into the history of Thu Thiem, a district in Ho Chi Minh City that was razed to the ground for redevelopment. She recaptured voices and social spaces lost through the transformation of a city, thus evoking the daily rhythms and the complex layers of history of this once lively landscape. Chung has excavated a section of tiled flooring, extracted from Thu Thiem, and presented it here in the gallery as a future relic. A series of twenty-six texts are hand-bound in the accompanying book, and each text relates the history of urban development of imperialist and nation-building projects. These texts, which spatially complement Chung’s cartographic drawings, acts like maps that trace the language of modernization and produce an archival narrative. An archaeology project for future remembrance is a reflection on the affect of urbanization; it uncovers and remembers those buried fragments of the city, of civilization.
Tiffany Chung (b. 1969, Vietnam) received an MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2000, and received her BFA from California State University, Long Beach, in 1998. Chung’s work examines the geographical shifts in countries traumatized by war, human destruction, or natural disaster. Her map drawings layer different periods in the history of devastated topographies, reflecting the impossibility of accurately creating cartographic representations of most places. Transgressing space and time, these works unveil the connection between imperialist ideology and the vision of modernity. Chung’s maps interweave historical and geological events, spatial and socio-political changes with future predictions, revealing cartography as a discipline that draws on perception and fantasy as much as geography. Based on meticulous ethnographic research, Chung’s work excavates layers of history, rewrites chronicles of places, and creates interventions into the spatial narratives produced through statecraft.
Rebel Madonna-Lace Collection (2016)
For EVA International, Donkor has created a new work on the history of lace with lace: the 'Rebel Madonna Lace' design has been made from a series of drawings by the artist, inspired both by traditional Limerick lace patterns and by images from Donkor’s own visual archive. Along with Adinkra symbols (symbols of hope and commitment of the Ashanti people, Ghana) are contemporary images from the city of Kumasi, Ghana, and historical images of Europe and Africa. This lace piece has been handmade – an extremely long process – in Limerick. This lace is exhibited along with two garments made of commercially produced lace from Ghana: a jumpsuit and a straight jacket. Donkor’s research into the history of the defunct lace production in Limerick city echoes his own experience of the continuing use of and craze for lace in West Africa – in his case Ghana.
Godfried Donkor (b. 1964, Kumasi, Ghana) studied art and art history at Saint Martins College of Art, receiving his BA Fine Art (Painting) in 1989. He studied postgraduate Fine Art at Escola Massana, Barcelona, Spain, before completing an MA in African Art History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in 1995. As an artist straddling borders between continents and cultures, Godfried Donkor is interested in historical and sociological issues, and specifically in the shared history of the peoples of Africa and Europe. In his work, he reflects on the commodification of people in all its facets. Borrowing iconography from mass media, and mixing styles and imagery that originate from conflicting sides of the political and cultural divides, Donkor creates works in painting, mixed-media collage, print, and most recently video. Donkor emphasizes creolization as the creative force that emerges from cultural interaction between societies. His works frequently depict contemporary figures shown rising from cross-sections of old sailing ships, a recurrent metaphor for the transportation of slaves from West Africa to the New World.
Erenberg began his 'mementos' series after Barack Obama’s 2008 speech in Philadelphia on race. The first paintings the artist made referred to the significant events of the African-American Civil Rights Movement – some obscure, others well known. After Obama gave a speech in Cairo in 2009, Erenberg researched historical events in the Middle East influenced by American foreign policy. The initial 'mementos' series (2008–09) consists of one hundred and thirty works on paper. The title of this series comes from the phrase ‘memento mori’ found in the Canon of the Mass in the Catholic Church – one prayer for living persons and the other for the dead. Each painting refers to worldwide historical events, such as US foreign policy and US military interventions through the names of places (i.e., countries, US states, cities) and the years associated with specific events. Others depict the history of labour unions and the influence of American corporate interests. The simplicity of the text in the paintings on canvas, exhibited here for EVA International 2016, recalls Erenberg’s handmade books.
Here, one can see his preference for the appearance of book covers (i.e., he favours the vertical format). In the paintings, he uses Helvetica sans-serif typeface, a universal standard for road signs, television, print, and social media. The artist resists hanging these paintings in chronological order. Instead, he encourages the viewer to encounter the work in a more random way to allow for multiple possible readings of the work to unfold. By doing so, Erenberg removes and highlights those social and political forces that can affect the way we live and move within the world.
Samuel Erenberg’s (b. 1943, Los Angeles) films, installations, books, and paintings have been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. A common thread in many of Samuel Erenberg’s projects is an examination of the history of social conflict and war and its effects on our collective psyche.
Thousands are Sailing (2016)
The title of the piece is from a song released by the London-based Celtic band the Pogues in 1988. The lyrics and plaintive manner in which it is sung, in the style of an Irish folk ballad, tell stories of Irish emigration to the United States: The island it is silent now But the ghosts still haunt the waves And the torch lights up a famished man Who fortune could not save …Evans explains: ‘Perhaps because of my early friendships with Irish people this music spoke to me deeply with the images it conjured up of migration, loss, belonging, alienation, and desire – all emotions I felt an affinity with due to my own diasporic experience.’ 'Thousands Are Sailing' (2016), for EVA International, is a large wall installation depicting figurative narratives in the style of history paintings. The disposable craft paper is a metaphor for the disposable lives of those depicted in the work.
Mary Evans (b. 1963, Lagos, Nigeria) lives and works in London. In Evans’ work she creates silhouettes and pictograms hand cut from brown craft paper, to produce site-based, spatially dynamic installations. Pattern is a strong leitmotif in her practice. With an interest in delving beyond the purely ornamental, Evans infuses historical, geographical, or architectural clues into her work.
Evans’ research interests are centered on the social and political frameworks of diaspora, migration, global mobility, and exchange. She investigates how the history of modern Britain is, in many respects, the legacy of its imperial past. Her work highlights the circuitous route via which people arrive and settle somewhere through emigration and diaspora – willingly or by force – what affects people on those journeys, what they are forced to learn and relearn, what they choose to remember and forget, and how they are irrevocably changed. Her flat, decorative patterning emphasizes the reductive nature of racial stereotyping – this reduction is rendered even more disturbing through the use of both ‘innocent’ and ‘loaded’ material.
And then… a spoken word film festival (2016)
The piece is a work structured for spoken word and appropriates the structure of the film festival. A venue was chosen that conforms to certain conditions: a place of conviviality and storytelling, of meeting, of drinking, a place where it would not be surprising if someone were to stand up and speak. The programme comprises a series of films chosen by the artist, curator, and participants in the work. The films are simply announced as a raw list to be ‘shown’ for the duration of the ‘festival’. At the stated times, the venue becomes a space of cinematic potential. Participants take turns at a microphone and relate the premise – either from memory or from written notes – of their chosen film. At the commencement of each film, there is no indication what film is being described. To aid the telling of the movie, it is acceptable to use existing sources, reviews, existing brochures, and other literature. There are no limits to the length or brevity of their presentation. The same film can be described multiple times within the duration of the festival.
Liam Gillick (b. 1964, Aylesbury, UK) is a New York–based writer and artist. Liam Gillick deploys multiple forms to expose new ideological control systems that emerged at the beginning of the 1990s. He has developed a number of key narratives that often form the engine for a body of work. Gillick’s work exposes the dysfunctional aspects of a modernist legacy in terms of abstraction and architecture when framed within a globalized, neo-liberal consensus. His work structurally rethinks the exhibition as a form. In addition, he has produced a number of short films since the late 2000s to address the construction of the creative persona in light of the enduring mutability of the contemporary artist as a cultural figure.
One, Some, Many (2016)
Höller undertook a research visit to Limerick in preparation for EVA International 2016 to develop a site-specific audio sensitive installation across three biennial sites. The installation is an entirely new work that consists of three freestanding microphones that capture a live feed of sound from visitors, triggering a voice recognition system and a playback system that can only be activated when the trigger words are mentioned across the biennial sites. As the microphones captures the speech from visitors, voice-recognition software and programmed hardware analyses the words spoken and the speakers transmits pre-programmed responses to the audience. The voice-recognition software responds to the words ‘one’, ‘some’, and ‘many’. The words were selected according to their frequency of use in the English language and because of their significance when arranged in the following order: ‘one, some, many’, or ‘one plus everything’. If one of the key words is uttered by someone in one of the installations, the pitch of the words change from low to high to very high, so high that the word in the end becomes almost indiscernible.
The work also implements a sense of doubt as the programme corrects the visitor, exploring the range of meaning between ‘one’ and ‘some’ and ‘some’ and ‘many’, and finally ‘many’ and ‘one’. For example, when the word ‘one’ is recognized by the system, it corrects with a response of ‘some’. 'One, Some, Many' (2016) plays with the exhibition venues as visually empty and open spaces that can be instantly transformed by sound. The visitor’s encounter with the sound from microphones allows for what could be described as an ‘increased capacity of hearing’, both for visitor and for the technical device: emphasizing the aural experience of presence.
Carsten Höller uses his training as a scientist in his work as an artist, concentrating particularly on the nature of human relationships. Born in Brussels in 1961, he now lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden and Biriwa, Ghana
This beautiful striped wreckage (which we interrogate)... (2016)
It is a three-part installation in the Sailor’s Home, an historical building built in 1857 on O’Curry Street, Limerick. The multimedia project incorporates video projection, an intervention in the space itself, and sculptural representations of the building’s architectural details.
The video projection situated on the upper floor of the space is viewable only from the mid-story staircase landing. The video was filmed in the British Museum, London, and shows a sculpture of an “emaciated Buddha” from third-century Pakistan, which depicts the human form of the Buddha Shakyamuni in his attempt to reach enlightenment through extreme asceticism. Joo’s intervention in the ground floor of the Sailor’s Home involves using silver-nitrate to ‘mirror’ sculptural reconstructions of specific walls within the building. This process is based upon methods used in early photographic imaging involving chemically derived metallic silver.
The third part involves the building’s decorative architectural details that were salvaged during the ongoing restoration. Joo displays several of these details as sculptures in the rooms on the lower floors. Ambient light from the video serving to illuminate the space. Joo is interested in seeing the Sailor’s Home as analogous to a body. Its somewhat mysterious past yet undeniable importance to the civic and social history of Limerick makes it a place for possible alternate narratives to unfold. On this significant anniversary in Irish history against colonial authority, Joo utilizes the Sailor’s Home as a site of transmission between Britain and Ireland. The work can be seen as symbolic of human potential – symbolic of local and more universal concerns.
Michael Joo (b. 1966, Ithaca, NY) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
A Memory Palace (2015)
For EVA International 2016, Kiwanga’s 'A Memory Palace' (2015) offers the visitor a journey through time, constructed spaces, and assembled narratives using image and sound. The idea of a palace or grand residency is central to the work. The artist references a physical edifice that no longer exists: the old Reichskanzlei, which was located in Berlin and formerly known as Palais Radziwill or Palais Schulenburg. This building was the setting for a number of historical events and important meetings, was damaged during World War II and subsequently demolished. The starting point for the project is the Congo Conference (1884–85), a series of diplomatic meetings that transpired within this building’s walls. European and American representatives met at the palace and made decisions that would change the geopolitical topography forever. Its decisions regulated European trade in Africa, led to the establishment of the Congo Free State, and set the stage for the ensuing the ‘scramble for Africa’: the fervent colonization of Africa by European nations.
Kiwanga’s investigations take her to the period before the Congo Conference where she unearths some intriguing stories. The artist’s voice recites a text based on her research on the Congo Conference, which pulls together creation myths, acts of liberation, detective novels, and crimes against humanity. The installation transforms the exhibition place into the physical manifestation of a ‘memory palace’. A memory palace is an ancient Greek method of memory enhancement: visualization is used to organize and recall information. Using image and spoken word in her constructed three-dimensional memory palace, Kiwanga invites the visitor to discover signs, which range from obscure to iconic, archival to popular. A Memory Palace is a conceptual, temporal, and geographical meandering that allows new narratives to unfold and become inscribed onto the viewer’s memory.
Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1981, Hamilton, Canada) lives and works in Paris. She received a joint BA in Anthropology and Comparative Religions from McGill University, Montreal, in 2002.
Le Papillon Bleu (2016)
The two compositions presented for EVA International 2016 take the form of one of Konaté’s iconic textile works. These sumptuous pieces from the ‘butterflies series’ are animated by his technical virtuosity and love of colour. The theme of this series recalls the recent anniversaries of the independence of most of the countries on the African continent, and how fragile these states still are post-independence. The image of the butterfly ties in with this fragility. The butterfly also represents the power of transformation and metamorphosis. Its metaphorical value is Konaté’s answer to the curatorial commitment of this biennial edition to explore, face to face, the complexity of the postcolonial condition of Ireland.
Abdoulaye Konaté (b. 1953, Diré, Mali) is an artist who lives and works in Bamako, Mali. He is the recipient of many awards including: Officier de l’Ordre National du Mali (2009); Prix Passeport – Créateurs sans Frontiéres (2008); Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mali (2002); Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française (2002). His work primarily takes the form of textile-based installations that explore socio-political and environmental issues, while also showcasing his aesthetic concerns and formal language. He questions the way in which societies and individuals, both in Mali and beyond, have been affected by factors such as war, the struggle for power, religion, globalization, ecological shifts, and the AIDS epidemic. Konaté draws on the West African tradition of using textiles as a mode of communication and commemoration. Employing material native to Mali – namely, woven and dyed cloths that are sewn together – Konaté creates large-scale abstract and figurative compositions. His referral to a localized cultural technique is then astutely realigned to correspond with a wider geopolitical framework, the material acting as an intercessor between local and global structures.
KEMANG WA LEHULERE
Teeth are the only bones that show (2016)
Scene 55: A Grave Misunderstanding Interior. Home. Night. "I once mistook odontophobia as a fear of death. Upon reading its meaning twice, I realized it was an unusual fear of teeth. This is curious because an artist once said that ‘teeth are the only bones that show’. Some few years ago, while digging with an afro comb in someone’s backyard in Gugulethu, I discovered bones. Where I grew up people go to a special school to learn how to ‘read’ bones. Once read, these bones are said to reveal the past or even unveil the future". Wa Lehulere said: ‘On a recent visit to Limerick I dreamt I had discovered infant bones in a large plant pot in an open field. The following day, while en route to the local art school, I was fascinated by the false teeth on sale in the window of a dentist’s office. When I toured the art school, I also learned about its history and the existence of Magdalene laundries that housed “fallen women.”
Wa Lehulere’s new work for EVA International 2016 takes its cue from these discoveries, bringing together material elements that represent these chance encounters and the preceding dream. The work is a sculptural installation that comprises a second-hand washing machine, a set of false teeth (which are made from a mould of the artists teeth), a text written by the artist, and a velvet cloth.
Kemang Wa Lehulere (b. 1984, Cape Town) is an artist who lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kemang Wa Lehulere works in a variety of media, including performance, drawing, installation, text, and photography. He creates events and environments in an attempt to understand South Africa’s past and present. His work engages with the spaces between personal narrative and collective history, between archive and amnesia. The act of digging becomes a metaphor for the pathology of history, with the artist performing the dual roles of forensic investigator and scientist. Performative gestures of unearthing, discovery, destruction, and erasure are central to his work.
CHARLES LIM YI YONG
Stealing the Trapeze (2016)
The work is inspired by the history of a very specific tool used for navigation. It is part of the history of catamarans, a type of boat seldom constructed in the temperate West before the nineteenth century, but in wide use as early as the 5th century AD in what is known today as South India. The word ‘catamaran’ is derived from the Tamil language (from kattu meaning ‘to tie’ and maram meaning wood or tree). One of the earliest mentions of the catamaran was made by the seventeenth-century adventurer William Dampier when he encountered this peculiar sailing vessel in the southeastern part of India during his first circumnavigation around the globe. The catamaran was prevalent from equatorial South to Southeast Asia and well into the Pacific as a design solution that allowed for greater stability and lower resistance when passing through water because of its narrow hull shape. Today, it is raced in the America’s Cup.
Another boat with a narrow hull shape, which was developed within the Riau Archipelago, is the Kolek. It is a class of boats specifically built for racing. Its sailors use a device called the Tembang to stabilise the narrow-shaped hulls. The Tembang is almost identical to the sailing trapeze, a wire that comes from a high point on the mast of a racing dinghy and hooks onto a crew member’s harness. The trapeze is widely used in competitive sailing today. Through the book “Down the Wind: A Yachtman’s Anthology” (1966) there is an autobiographical account by Peter Scott about the circumstances surrounding the invention of the trapeze. Scott claims that he and his fellow sailors invented the trapeze in 1938 along the Thames River in England. There is wide evidence, however, that the Tembang had been in use for generations before that.
Charles Lim Yi Yong (b. 1973, Singapore) studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London, graduating in 2001. He is also a former Olympian sailor.
McCallum’s portraits demand we pay attention to what might lie beneath the surface. For each portrait, he creates one hyper-realistic colour painting and one monochrome painting using grisaille technique. His large-scale portraits of powerful men, such as Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (founder of a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo), Nuon Chea (chief ideologist of the Khmer Rouge), and Slobodan Milošević (president of Serbia 1989 to 1997), do not make explicit the violence (rape, murder, ethnic massacre, torture, and slavery) that these men in power often condoned. Instead the portraits have a complex and unsettling effect: the viewer is faced with the presence of the individual being portrayed. Moreover, these paintings testify on behalf of affected communities and challenge the audience to examine truths about the violence, alienation, and inhumanity that underlie many aspects of everyday life.
For EVA International 2016, McCallum showed several ‘reversal’ portraits from the series Weights and Measures, which he created over the past two years. The work explores masculine configurations of power in war, international relations, and militarism. The series comprises oil paintings based on photographic negatives of defendants taken as they appeared before international courts and tribunals.
Bradley McCallum (b. 1966, Greenbay, Wisconsin) received his BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1989, and an MFA from Yale University in 1992. Bradley McCallum’s work focuses on bringing together fine art and social practice. He describes his work as ‘an investigation into individual and collective social memory, responsibility, and actions’. His multifaceted projects reflect upon media representations and social concerns, and are often inspired by American history and the legacies of race in contemporary American culture. Embedded within the work is the ability to address complicated issues concerning race and power.
Abu Ammar is Coming (2016)
It is part of a commission by Independent Cinema Office / LUX that brings artist films into mainstream British theatres. Abu Ammar was the nom de guerre of Yasser Arafat. His Fatah group, a dominant faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), fascinated Bangladeshi socialists, despite the more Marxist tendencies of the George Habash group. A photograph circulates, showing five men staring out of a window. Actually, only four look out; the last man breaks protocol and looks at the camera. The light has a soft glow. The stage is a bombed building. All five men wear military fatigues; the colour must have been olive green. Snapped by Magnum photographer Chris Steele-Perkins in 1982, the image is a teasing enigma. Arabic newspapers claim it as evidence of Bangladeshi fighters in the PLO (Fatah faction). Go a little deeper into the memory hole and sediments will darken the third world international. Still, the light was beautiful.
Naeem Mohaiemen (b. 1969, United Kingdom) is a writer and artist who lives and works in London and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Naeem Mohaiemen researches states of belonging at the edge of postcolonial markers through essays, films, and mixed-media installations. His project 'The Young Man Was' (2006–ongoing) considers the revolutionary left as a form of tragic utopia. Project themes have been described as ‘revolutionary past meaningful in the sudden eruption of a revolutionary present’ (Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Bidoun), ‘a reflection on the conditions of masculinity that shape these cultures of radicalism and, possibly, doom them to failure’ (Murtaza Vali, Modern Painters), and ‘ever on the verge of collapsing into abstraction, their materiality performs the indeterminacy of the event they record’ (Sarinah Masukor, West Space). Chapters in Young Man Was include the films United Red Army (2012; about the 1977 hijacking of Japan Airlines to Dhaka), Afsan’s Long Day (2014; based on the diary of historian Afsan Chowdhury), and Last Man in Dhaka Central (2016; about Peter Custers, a Dutch journalist jailed in Bangladesh after the violent events of 1975).
PÁDRAIC E. MOORE
Music for Chameleons (2016)
Moore's work is a one-off nocturnal event conceived around the conviction that the dance floor can be a zone of experimentation, self-invention, transformation, and communion. An inclusive, interactive happening concerned fundamentally with the politics of pleasure, Music for Chameleons emphasizes music’s capacity to restore an individual’s arcane, perhaps even ‘tribal’ instincts. The event – a celebration of the redemptive transgressive potential of disco as a sensibility and social-aesthetic practice – is informed by a 1979 article by Richard Dyer, published in Gay Left titled ‘In Defence of Disco’. According to Dyer, it wasn’t just the sexual or ethnic diversity of disco’s artists and audiences that was important, Dyer believed disco reflected the mechanized and material realities of marginalized and minoritized life under capitalism. Moreover, its sound – produced from electronic components such as synthesizers, drum machines, and sequencers – was a liberating agent.
In as much as nightclub dance spaces can serve as rehearsal spaces for modes of being-together that are better, more just, more caring, more fulfilling, or simply less harmful, they are also spaces of utopianism. This is not to claim all nightclubs are fully realized utopias – far from it – but rather that their dance floors are utopian in spirit: they provide concrete sites for the collective envisioning of a different kind of ‘good life’. – Richard Dyer, ‘In Defence of Disco,’ 1979 For Dyer, the sonic qualities of disco facilitated emotional release; its rhythm and aural textures were imbued with erotic and emotional extremes that permitted escape from the routines of everyday life.
Pádraic E. Moore (b. 1982, Ireland) is a writer, curator, and art historian who currently lives and works in Amsterdam. Moore’s practice is shaped by the belief that visual art enables alternative modes of interaction in a world increasingly led by technological rationality. Moore’s research interests focus on the influence of esoteric philosophies on both the literary and visual arts.
The Weight of Scars (2015)
The piece is a large four-panel textile piece with ten photographic images printed on Forex plates that have been fixed to the woven textile. Nkanga designed the tapestries for her exhibition 'Bruises and Lustre' at M HKA – Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, Belgium. The work relates to the heritage of a scarred, fractured landscape, the act of reconstruction, and the weight that comes with such a legacy. The ten circular photographic plates are images of what remains today of the former mined area in the northwestern part of Namibia, which today lies empty, abandoned, and even fenced off. The images show details of cracked surfaces, holes in the ground and walls, massive abandoned concrete structures, pipelines cutting through the landscape, and so on. These residues of a once rich and fertile ground filled with the promise of a better economy and life are now empty and drained. The struggle for balance, repair, and renewal are constantly taking place in the world in which we live; our bodies and the landscape are entangled in this process.
In her photography, Nkanga investigates the boundary between the documentary truth of photography and what lies outside of the frame and remains invisible. Everything that preceded the instant the artist took the picture, or happens after that moment, cannot be contained in the static image – the picture can therefore be considered a piece of evidence but one that doesn’t necessarily show truth. Nkanga wants to capture the changing world around her, and photography is evidence of human interference.
Otobong Nkanga (b. 1974, Kano, Nigeria) is visual artist and performer who lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. Nkanga’s drawings, installations, photographs, and sculptures examine ideas around land and the value of natural resources. In many of her works, Nkanga reflects on the use and cultural value connected to natural resources, exploring how meaning and function are relative within cultures, and revealing the different roles and histories that exist.
Ides of March (2015)
'Pantomime Mortal Act' (2016), a painting produced for EVA 2016, evokes the turbulent political history of the Republic of Ireland. The painting broadly references the resilience of the Irish nation against regional domination, starting with the reign of Elizabeth I to that of William of Orange. While religious reformations engulfed Europe with political turmoil, a quest for colonial expansion shifted from being the aspirations of the ruling elite to that of those who desperately needed to escape the limitations of life within a feudalist Europe. And in particular, the accession of William of Orange, which changed the course of history in countries such as the United States, Australia, South Africa, and others. 'The Ides of March' (2015) is part of a series of work based on the execution of Emperor Maximilian in Mexico in 1867. Édouard Manet’s version at the National Gallery in London was the inspiration behind Phokela’s first reinterpretation of the execution.
Ides of March is the tenth reworking of the painting, but in it Phokela introduces the assassination – a precursor to World War I – of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, who was, surprisingly, the nephew of Maximilian. The rendition of the execution is depicted in an opera-like composition.
Johannes Phokela (b. 1966, Benoni, South Africa) is and artist who lives and works in Johannesburg and London. While Phokela’s work is, at first glance, an irreverent representation of Western art, it is the cultural and political consumption of pictures that interests him most. He is himself a consumer of imagery, drawing from the iconic works of the European masters – Caravaggio, De Gheyn, Hogarth, Rubens, and so forth. He fuses them together with imagery found relating to current global affairs; that is, those found in magazines and on the Internet. Phokela’s art, which encompasses painting, sculpture, and drawing, is animated by a wicked sense of humour, technical virtuosity, and an ability to draw together a number of associations within a single work.
DEIRDRE POWER AND SOFTDAY
Nice Screams, A citizens anthem (2016)
It was a project that attempted to contribute to the existing and significant debate related to the legacy and contestations of the 1916 Easter Rising. Through an open competition, members of the public were invited to create a citizens’ anthem that is representative of contemporary Ireland, and reflect on themes such as equal opportunities, liberalism, freedom, welfare, security, and democracy. Shortlisted entries were then released for public vote to determine the winning anthem. The anthem was played by two ‘Shannon Ices’ ice-cream vans on 24 April 2016 (the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising). NICE SCREAMS – A CITIZENS’ ANTHEM plays on the historical precedence of June 1924, when the Dublin Evening Mail ran a competition to find a national anthem for the Republic of Ireland. A prize of £50 was offered, and Irish cultural luminaries W. B. Yeats, Lennox Robinson, and James Stephens were employed to select the winner. In October 1924, the newspaper reluctantly published the decision and stated: ‘We are all agreed that there is not one amongst them worthy of fifty guineas or any portion of it.’
Undeterred, the Dublin Evening Mail asked readers to pick from the six best submissions. Mary Farren Thomas of Clontarf was awarded the £50 prize for her poem ‘God of Ireland’, but the media campaign fizzled out as the competition become a burden and an embarrassment for the newspaper. The competition – which highlighted the absence of an accepted national anthem – attracted much public attention and considerable editorial commentary in many newspapers of the time. In 1926 the new Free State Government adopted ‘The Soldiers’ Song’ (‘Amhrán na bhFiann’) as the national anthem. By revisiting the history of the national anthem’s origins, Power and Softday stimulate discussion about national identity, democracy, citizenship, and equality.
Deirdre Power (b. 1963, Limerick) and Softday, the Limerick-based art-science duo made up of artist Sean Taylor (b. 1955, Ireland) and computer scientist Mikael Fernström (b. 1959, Sweden). Together they worked to develop a socially engaged project for EVA International.
WILLEM DE ROOJI
Blue to Black (2012)
For EVA International 2016, De Rooij has created a new work that is in counterpoint to 'Blue to Black', an artwork that was produced for Koyo Kouoh’s 2012 show Hollandaise at Raw Material Company in Dakar, Senegal. 'Blue to Black' is a so-called Hollandaise wax print on cotton that is industrially printed in Ghana. The new work, 'Black to Blue', is a piece of fabric hand printed in Yogyakarta using traditional Indonesian Batik technique. 'Black to Blue' and 'Blue to Black' are shown together on two separate but identical pedestals in the same room. The concept for the exhibition 'Hollandaise' stemmed from the long-standing commercial relationship between the Netherlands and Africa. The title referred to the colourful printed fabrics that are exported from the Netherlands to Africa, and are generally known in West Africa as ‘Hollandaise’ or ‘Dutch Wax’. During the Dutch colonial occupation of Indonesia, Dutch textile companies, such as Vlisco, developed industrial methods to mass produce traditionally handmade Indonesian batik, and found their largest markets on the Atlantic shores of Africa.
Today, these bright and distinctive wax prints are regarded as typically African. Complex globalization processes thus created the constructed image of a certain Africanness. De Rooij based his works on the colours Dutch traders used to describe the Indonesian people (‘blue people’) and the West-African people (‘black people’); thus, the transfer of printing techniques from one continent to another runs parallel to the transfer of racial stereotypes.
Willem de Rooij (1969, Beverwijk, Netherlands) lives and works in Berlin. De Rooij’s work reflects on the conditions of the exhibition space and of institutional practice. Central in his work is the selection and combination of images in a variety of different media, which range from sculpture to photography, film, and texts. De Rooij analyses conventions of presentation and representation, constructing tensions between cultural, historical, political, and autonomous sources.
For EVA International 2016, Rose has developed a new performance and installation while on residency at IMMA | Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, and also in Limerick. 'TERRABEAU' (2016) is an installation based on a puppet show that uses hand, finger, and sock puppets as well as video footage of actors playing various characters in costume. The puppet show is both live and pre-recorded, and draws from one of the many horrific scenes from the 1966 Italian shockumentary Africa Adio, by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi. The two primary characters/narrators of Africa Adio are Siamese zebras who have been chained and tripped-up by a group of white men. The zebra also references the a famous quote by Pik Botha, South African foreign minister in the dying days of apartheid: ‘South Africa is like a zebra, if you shoot the white stripe it will die, you cannot kill the white stripe without killing the animal ...’ The script for the puppet show is developed using a template from a YouTube clip featuring bland commentary on Irish history.
Tracey Rose (b. 1974, Durban, South Africa) received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1996 from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and earned a Masters of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2007. Tracey Rose’s work reflects the cultural, economic, and political differences that mark the contemporary world – in particular, post-apartheid South Africa – as well as identity-related and ethnic issues. Rose belongs to a generation of artists charged with reinventing the artistic gesture in post-apartheid South Africa. She has defined a provocative visual world whose complexities reflect the social and political difficulties of the task at hand. In her performances, which are often for the camera, Rose places her body at the centre stage. She inhabits roles given to Africans, to African women, and to women in a male-dominated world. In her quest to understand the source of these cultural stereotypes, she is inevitably drawn to religious myths of creation.
MONA VATAMANU & FLORIN TUDOR
Le monde et les choses (2014)
Le monde et la dette (2016)
'Le monde et les choses' (2014) is a textile world map that Vatamanu and Tudor began sewing while working together in Singapore. This artwork is related to their research in statistics taken from various CIA studies published online. The map shows the domination of a few countries based on their main industries – some countries dominate because they export financial products or electronics and machinery, while most countries export resources, minerals, or labour. For Vatamanu and Tudor, this map represents the final stage of colonialism.
The viewer can read the map through a specific colour code: green is for food and drink; red is for metals and minerals; brown is for wood; black is for oil, petroleum, and natural gas; pink is for textile and apparel; light grey is for machinery and transport equipment; blue is for electronics and ‘capital goods’; and white is for opium or ‘other’.
'Le monde et la dette' (2016) is a hand-sewed map of world debt. The darker colours represent countries with a higher debt and the lighter colours those with a lower debt. Some regions coloured in white represent geographic areas of unknown data. Red squares represent innate territories that cannot be regulated by debt and economics.
Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor (b.1968, Romania/1974, Switzerland) have been working together since 2000, based in Romania and working in Berlin. Their artistic practice spans a diverse range of media including film, photography, painting, performance, and site-specific projects. Widely shown in Europe, Vatamanu and Tudor bring history into the present tense in the form of a performative re-enactment or through symbolic recuperation. They do not impose on the viewer any preconceived social framework. Their practice involves the observation and scrutiny of material elements that surround us, often focusing on what is ephemeral, small, marginal (for instance, often overlooked matter such as dust, rust, fluff, soil).
VÕ TRÂN CHÂU
The term ‘water-image’, meaning a reflection on water, appears in a poem by Minh Mạng, the second king of the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802–1945). During this monarchy, the king assumed the position of ‘Son of Heaven’ and wore a ceremonial robe called a Long Cổn when offering prayers to heaven on religious occasions. The Nguyễn were the last ruling dynasty of Vietnam, and over a period of 143 years their reign was shadowed by China’s imperial menace, French colonization, and Japan’s fight for territorial power. The dynasty ended with the establishment of Vietnam’s Communist Party when the Nguyễn themselves became civilians. A number of Nguyen descendants now live with a kind of unresolved inferiority –some live in poverty, some in wealth, while others have scattered from Vietnam to France or former French colonies. For EVA International, Vo Tran presents 'Water-image' (2015), an installation informed by this history. She has reimagined the ceremonial gown and recreated the Long Cổn using clothes that have been donated by descendants of the Nguyễn dynasty.
By deconstructing and then reconstructing the clothes, not only does she make a new garment but illustrates personal stories to produce a multidimensional history. Hanging in the air with sleeves outstretched, the garment adopts a position that suggests protection but also implies surrender, resignation, and helplessness. The robe is suspended over a small pond in a confined space – representative of those Nguyễn kings who lived in confined mental and physical spaces, who presided over the entire country, and yet were powerless against manipulation. Alongside the robe, Vo Tran presents a light box depicting the items of clothing that were collected from the Nguyễn descendants. Vo Tran presents a garment patched together from a number of single pieces, and these remnants reveal a history that continues to extend and multiply.
Võ Trân Châu (b. 1986, Ho Chi Minh City), graduated at Fine Art University of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
909,125 minutes later (2016)
Waid's work is a proposal to delay the sounding of the Angelus Bell by exactly 25 minutes and 21 seconds on 24 April 2016. The Angelus Bell is presently sounds at 6.00 p.m. each evening on RTÉ, the national television network of Ireland. The delayed time is to reflect on the fact that Ireland used to have its own time zone, which was changed in 1916 by English parliamentary decree – by 25 minutes and 21 seconds. The time change was imposed on 1 October 1916. There are 36,365 days between 1 October 1916 and 24 April 2016, making an accumulated loss of 909,125 minutes at the rate of 25 minutes per day. '909,125 Minutes Later' is accentuated by the presence of a simple clock with the first 25 minutes of its numerals removed, along with RTÉ’s response to the letter proposing to delay the sounding of the Angelus Bell.
John Waid (b. Belfast) is a First-Year Art and Design lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Waid’s practice generates a continuous stream of diverse ideas, the majority of which are humorous or absurd in nature. Occasionally, however, these ideas are practical, useable, and – where appropriate and possible – some ideas become actual physical outcomes. Over a nine year period, The Halfbakery website has been a convenient outlet for over a thousand of Waid’s ideas, with the use of an undisclosed moniker preserving his anonymity. Dualities, flies, and the eclectic habits of small animals often feature in Waid’s work, as well as Toblerones and the Belfast peace lines. He continues to develop work under the title ‘Dubious Proposals of an Easily Deniable Nature’. Waid resists categories, and is as likely to be found proposing the rocket launch of a grand piano into a non-decaying orbit for space-station astronauts to play as he is inventing a new type of motorized drinking straw.
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.