The newly renovated Context Gallery will be opened by Nóirín McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
We Know More Than We Can Tell
Curated by Theo Sims
May 6th – 20th June, 2009
Opening Reception: Wednesday 6th May, 7.30pm
2005-09, paper, dimensions variable
photo friðrik örn hjaltested © Haraldur Jonsson
2007, 10:00 min
Black and white
Courtesy Galleri Christina Wilson <http://www.jesperjust.com/www.christinawilson.net> , Copenhagen
Explaining Magic to Mercer
2005, Video, Colour, Stereo
© Susan MacWilliam
The exhibition examines the different ways that the exploration of emotion and language can be articulated, sometimes without words. Visual art has an extraordinary capacity to extend its reach beyond words, and the work of these artists’ explores this rich and intangible territory. The traditional rules of language and narrative are subverted in the video work of Jesper Just, and a poetic response to language itself constructed within the sculptural/audio work of Haraldur Jonsson. Aspects of the imperceptible are negotiated between generations, in the video installation presented by Susan MacWilliam.
Haraldur Jónsson presents an audio work of a recording of a young Icelandic boy, reading out the names of fifty emotions in English, (a language unfamiliar to the boy). He slowly and delicately stumbles through the letters making up written words such as exuberant, passionate, defeated, cheated and jubilant. Jónsson will also present a sculpture/installation piece called Crumpled Darkness that delicately articulates the complexities of the experience of darkness, something profoundly resonant in Iceland.
Jesper Just’s short film, A Vicious Undertow masterly uses lush scenery, glossy production, and entrancing audio in order to reveal a complex and nuanced narrative. Just refuses to allow any articulation of a traditional story line, in spite of the films narrative, drawn out with a beautiful score of whistling and stares that offer up no end or resolution. A Vicious Undertow is scored and arranged with versions of Nights In White Satin by the Moody Blues, Rebel Waltz by the Clash and Gift of Redby Dorit Chrysler.
Susan MacWilliam presents Explaining Magic To Mercer; a short video that captures the openness of a young mind to accept and discuss intangible concepts such as telepathy, parapsychology and magic. The video features MacWilliam discussing with her five year old nephew Mercer, the bizarre and extraordinary phenomena attributed to the historical figures that have featured in her other works such as Kuda Bux, Madame Duplessis and Rosa Kuleshova. Susan MacWilliam will represent Northern Ireland in the Venice Biennale, 2009.
5 December 2008 – 2 January, 2009
opening reception: 7.30pm, Friday, 5th December
artist talk: 2pm, Thursday, 4th December
Curated by Gregory McCartney
Seán Lynch’s diverse artworks investigate and shine a spotlight on a wide range of subjects, magnifying traces of an often-idiosyncratic existence. Throughout Europe the culture of progress predominates rather than a culture of survival. Lynch is specifically interested in the friction between these two processes, often referring to Walter Benjamin’s subtle notion of ‘revolutionary nostalgia,’ an approach that considers the resonance of history and site in critical relation to contemporary discourse. In his first solo exhibition in Northern Ireland, the Context Gallery presents a survey of artworks realised by Lynch in the last three years.
The videowork Latoon, recalls folklorist Eddie Lenihan’s 1999 campaign to save a whitethorn bush from being destroyed by the construction of a €90 million road scheme in County Clare. In 1999, he claimed that this bush is an important meeting place for supernatural forces of the region, and warned that its destruction would result in death and great misfortune for motorists travelling on the proposed new road. Clare County Council, acting on his advice, eventually changed the direction of the road away from the bush. In 2006, Lenihan agrees to further explain the significance of the bush. As Lynch’s camera crew arrive at Latoon, they encounter the construction of another road nearby, and the bush once more seems to be in danger…
Another video work, records the introduction of peregrine falcons, the fastest creature in the world, into the Moyross housing estate in Limerick City. These birds, once populous around Ireland before the use of pesticides in the 1960s made them an endangered species, now fly over the rooftops of a housing estate about to disappear, with a regeneration plan being now announced. With miniature video cameras attached to their bodies, their free flights record a place about to disappear under the failed agendas of urban planning.
Continuing an interest in hidden narratives of site, Lynch traces the location of the last street Walter Benjamin walked on, in Portbou, Spain. Completing the show, a series of photographs detail Dana’s triumphant homecoming to Dublin Airport in 1970, after winning the Eurovision Song Contest. An editioned poster, availible to all visitors to the exhibition, recalls her touchdown and subsequent trip to Derry in detail. Incidentially, Dana sang an Irish lullaby in Saint Columb’s Hall, now the location of the Context Gallery, when she was six years old. She won a talent competition with her recital.
Seán Lynch was born in Kerry in 1978. He studied history at the University of Limerick and fine art at the Stadelschule in Frankfurt. He has completed solo exhibitions at the Gallery of Photography, Dublin (2008), Heaven’s Full, London (2008), Galway Arts Centre (2007), Limerick City Gallery of Art (2007), and Ritter and Staiff, Frankfurt (2006). He has featured in recent group exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork and Office Baroque, Antwerp.
10th October – 21st November
Opening Reception: 7.30, Friday 10th October
Curator: Sarah Edge, Head of School Media, Film and Journalism, University of Ulster
Three Collaborative Projects:
Anne Burke and Gail Baylis: Photography
Anne Crilly and Vincent O'Callaghan: Video
Sarah Edge, Rowan Morrey and Shelly Garrett: Interactive Media
London Street is a Georgian street steeped in history and located in the centre of Derry City, shadowed by the historic city walls. This was the creative springboard for each of these new visual projects.
Together these projects offer the viewer a stimulating and thought-provoking journey through a number of virtual London Streets.
These three art projects have been created as part of a novel collaboration between academic staff, located within the School of Media, Film and Journalism at the University of Ulster and emerging artists who have a close connection to the School.
Two of these young artists are recent graduates, one is currently studying for an MA in Documentary Practice and one was based in the School’s Centre for Media Research.
This staff ‘student’ collaboration worked in different ways whereby academics help forge a productive relationship between theory and practice and the emerging artists help such ideas grow creatively, culminating in the works produced for this show.
Sarah Edge, Curator
ANNE CRILLY with VINCENT O'CALLAGHAN:
London Street: Surrender
This video installation explores Derry as the Maiden City. London St, within the city walls and in the shadow of St Columb’s Cathedral, projects an aura of respectability yet, just around the corner, behind the elegant facades of Pump Street, is a hidden history of women which can be explored. 4 Pump Street was, in a past life, a brothel serving the respectable elders of the city. Today, ‘Pathways’ at the other end of Pump Street, is the education and outreach department of Foyle Women’s Aid which offers support and education for victims of domestic violence. Anne Crilly and Vincent O’Callaghan’s audio-visual investigation of ‘London Street- Surrender’ explores issues surrounding the historical and contemporary control and surrender of women.
SARAH EDGE with ROWAN MORREY and SHELLY GARRETT: Interactive walkthrough- Path to the Portal, an Interactive Diorama
London Street is a path, a journey in itself, to one of the city’s gates. Photographs themselves are gates into our memories; to our own journeys long since passed, soon to be revisited. Sound is the ‘music’ without which a walk down the street would seem unreal and even disturbing and unnatural. This work combines these elements in Adobe/Macromedia Flash to allow the viewer to create their own paths to the portals along London Street.
The project is a myriad of still photos, compiled in Flash, mapping the path through London Street and out to Butcher’s Gate. Still images shot at intervals along the street provide the viewer with a more revealing and textured feel to the project. Shot in monochromatic as well as in colour the user can walk the street using the keyboard and enter the many “gates” or “portals” of the buildings along the journey, peeling back the historic skin to find the blood of modern life and commercialism alive and well in this historic setting. This is combined with audio that captures the modernity of the atmosphere belying the historic nature of the buildings which in turn, mask the businesses and companies that operate from within.
GAIL BAYLIS with ANNE BURKE: Photographic installation, History begins at ground level, with footsteps
How can we understand the materiality of London Street, a street still encountered primarily by the experience of the pedestrian? Michel De Certeau's theorization of the city gaze affords one inroad into engaging with the particularities and characteristics of this street. This work speaks not only of the street's material identity but also its past. Street directories afford a means to access this history at ground level - they reference the city through the trades and professions to be found in its streets. However, the written record alone, while offering a means into the experience of London Street, cannot articulate the visual register of the experience of walking that street. For this we need to pay attention to the coordinates of the street gaze.
This installation does not aim to define but, rather, it registers the inherent transience in the street gaze. That gaze is resistant to definition and to capture by the camera. It is fleeting, mobile, diffused; has passed in the moment of its recording. It is a subversive practice - oppositional to the aerial gaze wherein distance serves to render movement as containable and static and in which the camera operates as a means for surveillance.
The Context Gallery, Derry
The Context Gallery is pleased to announce the appointment of the new Director, Theo Sims. Sims has organised numerous national and international exhibitions and projects and brings a wealth of experience to the Context.
Theo Sims has moved back to Northern Ireland from Canada where he was the Programming Coordinator at a contemporary artist-run centre called aceartinc. located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Sims's achievements are particularly evident with his support and promotion of emerging artists such as Melanie Authier, Adad Hannah, Frieso Boning and this years Sobey Award nominee Daniel Barrow. Sims has worked with international artists such as Donigan Cumming, Rebecca Belmore and Steingrimur Eyfjord and has most recently founded and co-organised (In)Visible Cities, a festival of performance and off-site installations featuring artists such as Nhan Duc Nguyen, FASTWURMS, Cheryl L'Hirondelle and Finger In The Dyke Productions.
Prior to working at aceartinc., Sims was the Managing Editor for BlackFlash Magazine, a contemporary arts magazine focussing of photography and lens based art and he has also enjoyed success as an independent artist; his work being featured in the exhibition, Crack the Sky, curated by Wayne Baerwaldt, for La Biennale de Montréal 2007. He has also had several solo shows across Canada with forthcoming exhibitions in Vancouver and Ontario.
Theo Sims is an alumnus of the University of Ulster, (receiving his MA in 1994), and previous member of Orchid Studio's in Belfast from 1991-1998. He is looking forward to steering the gallery ahead in its fifteenth year of operation and launching the newly renovated space in the spring of 2009.
The Context Gallery was established in 1993 specifically to support and encourage emerging fine and applied Irish artists, and to develop links between emerging Irish artists and emerging artists in other countries. It the only gallery in the North-West of Ireland dedicated to providing a platform for emerging artists.
This language of flowers is an immediate reference to the so many floral tributes that adorn the main public space in London St., namely the Cathedral. The collective identity is at once attributable to the specificity of religious identity rather than the secular contracts offered in the other works.
I had originally started with the text “individual conduct” our conduct, the idea of how we take part in civil society which brought me on to contracts of kinds I mentioned before and I started to think of Londonderry or Derry London as a kind of contract of identities and I guess trying to negotiate these identities within the workings of social contracts and also exploring the idea of a “communal shelter” with these statements, what we rely on as groups of people, our identities, traditions, religious, cultural etc, and the more modern plastic offers from commercial industry. There’s an element of memorial about the work large affirmations, but also they are a form of protest rejecting clienthood, dependency, and coded relationships, searching for human space.` The inclusivity that now so underwrites the new political cartography of NI is that which permeates the larger social landscape as subjects within global capitalism, “we need you, for our need” marks out the requirement of both producers and consumers alike, as both are now intrinsically one as subjects now enter the shop floor of world making, cooperation now leads us towards the production of common goods which in turn can produce new and unique lines of flight for the subject and the socious, allowing for the continual recreation of our world as product of our imaginings.
2007 - WE’RE GOING TO DIE, Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast,
“Its not clear at this stage..” Draiocht Arts Centre, Dublin
Selected Group Exhibitions:
2006 - Biennial of Drawing, Bohemia Museum, Pilsen, Czech Republic,
2005 OFFSIDE, Hugh Lane, Dublin City Gallery, Dublin.
“Final Phase Launching”, (Two person Show) Pallas Heights, Dublin.
Claremorris Open, Claremorris Co Mayo.
Iontas, Sligo Art Gallery, Sligo
Working towards solo exhibitions:
2009 - Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, 2010 Roscommon Arts Centre Co Roscommon
Commissioned Artwork Project for the Context Gallery and the North West Visual Archive
The student work in this exhibition has made in response to the work a group of selected artists who have exhibited in the North West in the last three decades. These artists include Victor Sloan, Alaistar McLennan, Dermot Seymour, Alice Maher and others who have all exhibited at either the Context Gallery or The Orchard Gallery. The students were asked to closely consider both the concepts and processes used by these artists and to freely interpret thereafter. This has resulted in a wide range of exciting and individual works that have been realised by a wide variety of means, including photography, sculpture, painting, installation and in one case, taxidermy.
The students would like to thanks the staff of the Context Gallery and the North West Visual Archive for their support.
John Mc Eldowney
Aideen Doran graduated from the University of Ulster, Belfast in 2007. Previous shows include RDS Student Art Awards, Dublin (2006), Heal, Naughton Gallery, Belfast (2007) and EV+A 2008; Too Early for Vacation, Limerick. She currently lives in Belfast, working at Flax Art Studios as part of their Graduating Student Residency programme.
I am interested in discovering alternative ways by which to map a landscape. In this forthcoming exhibition I intend to study the map/ route patterns that surround London Street, patterns made by those who use the street most.
I would greatly appreciate your participation. All the information gathered from collaborations will become the installed art in the gallery.
Initially I would appreciate it if you could write only your home postcode on the back of this card. This would be the postcode from which you commute to London Street. Please retain both this card and its envelope as they will be displayed in the gallery as part of the work.
Kind regards and many thanks in advance!
Hope to speak to you soon,
Born in Belfast, N. Ireland Alyson Edgar creates work that focuses on the visualisation and cartographic documentation of journeys.
Unfamiliar landscapes are logged and archived in an interactive and collaborative manner, utilising elements of serendipity and voyeurism.
Her work is presented in a structured pseudo-scientific format cataloguing the events of each investigation.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1985. Graduated with BA Hons in Fine and Applied Art: Installation/ Sculpture, from University of Ulster: Belfast, 2007.
Selected exhibitions : “Claremorris Open Exhibition”, Co. Mayo 2007. “Energy in Art” Phoenix Gas Headquarters, Belfast 2004.
Publications : Degree Shows: Critics Choices - CIRCA, Issue 121; Claremorris Open Exhibition Catalogue 2007; Perspective 2004 – ‘Arts Review’.
Why go outside? What is there to do? Public spaces in Northern Ireland. Rural, urban and suburban. How they are occupied, how they are abandoned, how they are desirable and undesirable. Public interaction with self and environment. London St in Derry/Londonderry, Gerry/Londongerry. What do we do now with our open spaces, on a Saturday night in Belfast or Derry, or on a Wednesday afternoon in Omagh or Strabane? Open public spaces were used for many different activities during the troubles, what are they used for now? A walk through the Lagan Meadows, or a walk along the Derry walls. A drive through the South Sperrins scenic route, or through the North-West Passage. Camping out in Belvoir Park, or camping on London street. Walking the Ulster Wayward.
Fergal McSwiggan lives in Belfast and works and recreates here and all over Ireland. Originally from Omagh, County Tyrone, his work is concerned with issues of communication, place and identity, tourism and recreation, as well as rural and urban public space in post-conflict Northern Ireland. He is interested in the misrepresented visual culture of Northern Ireland, and how it was in the past, often seen as urban and violent, when it is predominantly pastoral and peaceful.
Cliona Harmey; Allan Hughes; Paul Murnaghan; Slavek Kwi
Opening 8pm Friday 7th March Main Theatre, St Columb’s Hall
Exhibition runs until 15th March 2008
Opening Hours 11 am - 5pm
Context Galleries presents ‘Swift Sequential Intimacies’ a weeklong exhibition by Cliona Harmey, Allan Hughes, Paul Murnaghan and Slavek Kwi investigating the Main Theatre Space in St. Columb’s Hall using the medium of sound.
Cliona Harmey’s ‘Seating Set’ work takes the form of a series of differently sequenced recordings using the sound of the on site theatre seating. Cliona Harmey is an artist who works across a variety of media including video, photography, sound and the Internet. Much of her work is about the process of recording, particularly small mutable everyday phenomena.She is currently based in Dublin and is a lecturer at The National College of Art & Design, Dublin. She studied Sculpture, graduating in 1992 and has exhibited in curated shows in Ireland and internationally. In 1999- 2000 she completed a one year residency at Arthouse Multimedia Centre, Dublin, which introduced her to working in the area of moving image and sound. She recently completed a multidisciplinary MA in Visual Practices at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology which combines students of curating, writing and art practice. She is also one of the founding members of Blackletter.ie an online open publishing system for artists.
Allan Hughes’ ‘Auditoria’ work sets down somewhere inside a narrative of surveillance and counter-surveillance and begins to negotiate a course through our relationship to the surrounding audio environment. The work consistently makes reference to instances of looking but withholds this privilege from the spectator and instead establishes a system of auditory mise en scené by locating the listener in a series of audio settings (5.1 surround, stereo and mono). This not only locates them in the listening space but works to reproduce other spaces, repositioning their listening experience within the diegesis and the technologies that appear within. The course the work takes, aims to reflect our constantly fluctuating relationship to recording and mediated technologies and their impact on our understanding of events, people and places around us. That despite the promises to “bring us closer” they also function to produce a more precarious and detached subjectivity, maintaining a network that constantly keeps us apart.
Allan Hughes is a board member of Factotum and the Digital Arts Studios at Queen Street. His work has been presented both nationally and internationally, most recently for “Northern Bound” at Sla rosa in Quebec, a solo show at the Old Museum Arts Centre in Belfast and an exhibition in the G126 gallery in Galway. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Ulster entitled “Synchronisation, Authority & Duplicity: Screening The Voice”, where his research focuses on the development of our relationship to synchronised dialogue in cinema and more specifically our production and understanding of the recorded voice and it’s inclination to multiply meaning in the act of listening.
Paul Murnaghan's work Time loss recognition for heat exposure in humans (A sound work composed from the utterances of domestic pets) explores connective phenomena within the psychology of belief. Research within this area has led him to advertise his memory capacity for sale (Memorious - 2006) and to publish a contract in which an art space agreed to commission work that no one would ever see (Auto Da Fe - 2007).
Murnaghan constructs mnemonic devices which act as catalysts towards rendezvous, ritual and installation. Curation is a part of this process and projects rarely happen without other people and the generosity of exchange.With this new composition he uses the communicative powers of domestic pets to examine the telepathy of intense relationships.
Paul Murnaghan is a Dublin based artist and a graduate of the Masters in Visual Arts Practice I.A.D.T. He has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally and was Artistic Director / curator of 5th Gallery at Guinness Storehouse for its existence (2000-03). Recent work includes 'Synesthesia Sat' which he curated as part of Birr Arts Festival, Co.Offaly. Forthcoming exhibitions include 'A line describing nothings', in May at The Lab, Foley St, Dublin and 'Neocreedo' in August at Platform, Vaasa, Finland.
Slavek Kwi’s new submersive 4D_soundwork ‘Morpheme (Signals from the Outer Zone of Human Perception – Movement 2) on 5.1 system uses recordings of sounds that exist on the periphery of human perception, such as underwater recordings, ultrasound and electromagnetic signals. Composition combines sounds generated from ultrasounds as sonar of bats and echo-location clicks of pink dolphins and other sounds of nocturnal amazon rainforest with signal-sounds from urban environment and inside airplane. The work was created February 2008, Ivy Cottage_Ireland.
Slavek Kwi is explorer, sound-artist and composer fascinated by sound-environments for the last 27 years, creating complex audio-situations mainly from site specific recordings, resulting in digitally frozen contemplations as multi-channel cinema for ears, sound-installations and soundworks designed for CDs. Interested also in free-music research as part of social investigation and employing the space and any objects it contains as musical instrument. His works oscillates between purely sound based and multidisciplinary projects. From the early nineties Slavek has operated under the name Artificial Memory Trace. He has published 11 CD/LP-albums and contributed to numerous international compilations and projects. AMT works are performed, distributed and/or broadcasted across Europe, North America, Australia and Mexico. For details see www.artificialmemorytrace.com
Having peaked in the late 70s at a high point of Carter-era optimism, disco was formed from an amalgam of black, Latin, and gay subcultures. Vilified at the time for its seeming promotion of male effeminacy (i.e. homosexuality), its embrace of a proactive female sexuality, and its racial non-distinction, disco, with its voracious capacity to sample and reshape excerpts from multiple musical genres, had the ability to reduce “everything to its surfaces […] so that the profound and the inane have an equal opportunity to stimulate.”* Robert Boyd’s Xanadu exploits the duality that disco provides and combines it with the organizational structure of disco’s visual reincarnation—the music video—to dramatize recent social and political events.
The choice of disco reverses the classic 70s punk vs. disco dichotomy, in which the harbingers of “no future” were clearly the self-disenfranchised punks. In Boyd’s construction, supported by extreme and often violent footage meticulously gathered over the course of several years, we see a current worldview in which mass annihilation and the Apocalypse are solidly in the hands of those empowered by their people. His choice of dance music suggests a volatile segue from the “feel good” generation of the late 70s to the current “feel bad” generation of the 00s. Taken as a whole, the Xanadu videos insinuate that humanity is not apathetic about its own demise but, on the contrary, is furtively engineering it through a form of collective self-destruction.
Introducing the theme of the Apocalypse, Boyd’s video “Heaven’s Little Helper,” 2005, begins with an excerpt from Masada, a 1981 mini-series about the Zealots, a sect of Jews who defended their right to be free from an oppressive Roman regime through an act of mass-suicide. Fast-forwarding into “family” footage of seemingly wholesome hippies and children dancing in natural settings, Boyd marks the end of sunny popular culture in the U.S. with iconic images of the Manson Family. Continuing in this vein, the video incorporates archival footage of some of the most infamous doomsday-cult gurus and their devout disciples including the Hello Kitty-flanked Shoko Asahara of Aum Shinrikyo, architect of the sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subways; the Reverend Jim Jones of the People’s Temple; Marshall Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate; and David Koresh of the Branch Davidians.
“Patriot Act,” 2004, takes a global historical sampling of iconic leaders of the Left and Right since World War II to stage a secular milieu of “followers,” insinuating that genocide can take place only through collective effort. The speed of the video accelerates as images of parades and victory celebrations rapidly devolve into images of war and genocide, leading to the video’s cataclysmic end. Edited between views of numbed and orderly masses, startling images of violence and death, both iconic and suppressed, are deployed. Caught in the blur are images of the men who have redefined the political landscape of the world from some of the most pivotal moments in history.
“Judgment Day,” 2006, chronicles the rise of fundamentalist religions around the globe, including audio and video excerpts from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell of the Christian Right in the U.S.; Ian Paisley of Northern Ireland; Islamic fundamentalists Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden, and Ayatollah Khomeini; Daniella Weiss and Eliezer Waldman of Israel’s Gush Eminum; and Hindu nationalists Bal Thackeray and L.K. Advani. The video depicts their desperate, increasingly violent, and sometimes successful attempts at establishing theocracies. Further leveling the terrains of religious and political extremism, “Judgment Day” blurs the already indistinct lines between civil necessity and fanaticism, and the shattering consequences thereof. The video also contains the only original footage in the exhibition, an excerpt from the artist’s own video of the World Trade Center collapse.
The series’ culmination, “Xanadu,” 2006, is a three-channel video that begins with George W. Bush’s post-9/11 address to the nation, in which he declares the end of the “feel good” era and the beginning of a new one. This era, the artist suggests, is Xanadu—a conglomerate of our fears, paranoia, and prejudices—an envisioned Apocalypse in the process of being actualized.
Serving as both the prologue and epilogue for Xanadu, Boyd’s “Exit Strategy,” 2005, features Rapture-ready prophets such as Charles Manson, Brenda McCann of Manson’s Family, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Shoko Asahara and Luc Jouret of the Order of the Solar Temple. Addressing topics such as death, suicide, the President, and the dire state of the world as they perceived it, the video contains audio and video excerpts from some of their final hours, including Jim Jones’ suicide sermon at Jonestown, David Koresh’s 911 call with the FBI, and Marshall Applewhite’s farewell video, among other tragic and telling moments.
By contrasting the familiar and the fringe, the popular and the notorious, Boyd’s Xanadu suggests a displacement between the euphoric idyll promised by disco and the chilling reality of collective human brutality.
( Text by Lia Gangitano )
* Tom Smucker, “Disco: a soundtrack for communal ecstasy,” The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, 3rd ed. (New York:Random House, 1992).
Preview Saturday March 24th 2007 @ 8.30 pm at Prehen House
Simultaneous opening of four solo exhibitions:
John Beattie, Mark Clare, Breda Lynch, Katrina Maguire
Exhibitions runs until Friday 10th August 2007
Prehen House has recently developed as a site for presenting multi-disciplinary arts, with poetry, music, performance and community arts regularly programmed. This Context Galleries project will present four simultaneous site-specific linked solo shows by John Beattie, Mark Clare, Breda Lynch, and Katrina Maguire in Prehen House and grounds. The house is open Tues-Sunday 2pm-5pm March-October, and at all other times by telephone appointment. There will also be four artist’s catalogues, each launched at a monthly artist’s talk, and four evenings of screenings / performance, one programmed by each artist.
Prehen House website: http://www.geocities.com/colinpeck/prehen.html
Dates of Events:
march 24th: simultaneous opening of the four solo exhibitions
april 27th:Breda Lynch launch and talk and programmed event
may 26th: Mark Clare launch and talk and programmed event
june 30th:John Beattie launch and talk and programmed event
aug: 10th:Katrina Maguire launch and talk and programmed event
There have been two special additions to Context Galleries @ Prehen House:
The first is a satellite project which will present a broader selection of artist's work at the old Orchard Gallery site on Orchard Street, Derry. Dates/artists are:
july 14th - july 28th: The Place of the Crows, Breda Lynch:
aug 4th - aug 18th: Katrina Maguire:
sep 8th- oct 8th: John Beattie.
The second is the Context Galleries education project Sharing Heritage, a series of four specially commissioned art cards, one from each artist, and four cards from the pupils of St Cecilias School, Derry. The project presents work examining individual perceptions of "heritage" sites in the city. The cards will be distributed nationally.
Prehen House is served by and Ulsterbus Foyle route FY6 which departs from Foyle Street in city centre and has a stop outside the entrance to Prehen House at Sunningdale Drive: it departs at 15 minutes past the hour and is a ten minute journey.
Prehen House, Waterside, Derry
Tel: 028 71342829
5-7 Artillery Street
Derry BT48 6RG
Tel: 028 71373538
Sara Greavu, originally from the USA, has resided in Derry for over a decade, and is currently completing a practice based PhD at University of Ulster. Previous solo shows include All Souls, Context Galleries, 2003; group shows include The Moore Street Lending Library, Dublin, 2005; b-lomo, Context Galleries, 2003; Resident, as a Context Artist in Residence with Bayview Educational Guidance Centre, 2003.
This series of photos, taken on Halloween 2005 are part of of a larger project I am involved in which deals with displays of ‘ethnic drag’ and whiteness in Ireland. I am fascinated by the prevalence of these costumes portraying ethnic ‘others’ and I am interested in unpicking the reasons for their popularity. Ireland has a long history of blackface performance: almost from the inception of the minstrel show in the US in the 1820s, minstrel shows were a popular form of entertainment here; this endured through most of the 20th century with the (British made) Black and White Minstrel Show being aired here until the early 80s. Given the location of the Context Gallery as part of the Playhouse building, I wanted to refer to this tradition and ask what this modern, homegrown version of minstrelsy says about an Irish concept of identity and otherness. At the same time, Ireland’s colonial history has given it a unique perspective among the nations of Western Europe. There is a sense of solidarity with other colonised or subaltern nations, visible, for instance in the flying of Palestinian flags. I am interested in how these markers of identity sit with the cross-racial mimicry depicted in my work.The photos on the outside of the building are digitally manipulated to isolate the individual figures: the street becomes the ‘black box’ stage and an ersatz lens flare highlights the use of the camera to capture the images, and also places the viewer ‘backstage’ or inside of the performance.The series of postcards The Colonial Harem: Scenes and Types are looking at another popular set of costumes: the ‘harem girl’ or belly dancer. I am relating these images to postcards produced in Algeria and Morocco in the early part of the last century. The faux-ethnigraphic postcards illustrate a Western fantasy or a ‘phantasm’ of harem life and were produced by French photographers for a French audience. These postcards, collected and interpreted by Malek Alloula in his seminal text, The Colonial Harem, were ‘everywhere’ in Algeria, “covering all the colonial space, immediately available to the tourist, the soldier, the colonist…[The postcard] is ubiquitous. It can be found not only at the scene of the crime it perpetrates but at far remove as well.” (Alloula)In the Ireland of today, of increasing immigration and ‘guest workers’, of the citizenship referendum and American troop transports refuelling at Shannon airport en route to Iraq, how can we read these performances of race? Do they work to construct or shore-up a communal sense of nation and ‘whiteness’? Do they, indeed, constitute a performance of whiteness through the means of a masquerade of blackness? Could they also be seen to represent a more ambiguous relationship to the racial ‘other, one of identification, commonality or desire?
Miriam de Burca is currently completing a practice based PhD at University of Ulster. Recent projects include: The Golden Mile, Belfast 2003; Veneer/Folheado, Galeria Zedosbois, Lisbon, Portugal 2003; BE+FAST, Ljubljana, Slovenia 2004; The Belfast Way, Herzilya Museum of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 2005; Perspective, Ormeau Baths, Belfast 2005; Dogs Have No Religion, Artists From Northern Ireland at Czech Museum of Fine Arts, 2006.
Weeds have grown from soil recently fertilised by the ashes of an 11th Night bonfire. The wasteland’s annual cycle of construction and subsequent destruction has entered into its interval phase; the return of the small organisms. Benefiting from the minerals left by the fire, they begin to re-inhabit the area, slowly building up a temporary landscape.
A contradiction in terms, it would seem, ‘stealing weeds’. How can it be stealing if they are only weeds? And, if they are considered to be of no worth, why would one feel the need to go to such lengths? After all, they grow abundantly and thrive wherever the ground offers the minimum requirements for light, nutrition and drainage. They are considered a nuisance; they spring up where they are not wanted. Yet here they are being specially selected, uprooted, and taken away. Should anyone have objected to it?
Is it not a form of colonisation when one aggressively tears at the ground and takes elements of it away for scrutiny?
More important than the question whether digging up the plants is theft or not, is the fact that it feels like theft. The physical act of crossing through the implicit threshold and into the centre of the interface gives the sensation of making an imposition. There is a psychological heat still emanating from the ashen ground that causes one to hurry, to step and dig and leave quickly. (‘Careful or you’ll burn the soles of your feet.’)
Ultimately, there is no feeling of victory, no conquest made. Rather than gaining a sense of ownership over that proximate piece of land, the psychological boundary between ‘here and there’ remains as intact as before, the experience leaving only a slight feeling of guilt; that the weeds had been taken from someone else’s land; de facto stolen.
Miriam de Búrca