Thursday, July 26, 2012

eva International, 19 May - 12 August, Limerick City

Since being founded in 1977, eva International has gained national and international acclaim, and is recognised as Ireland’s preeminent exhibition of visual art. Previous curators include Brian O'Doherty (1980) and Barrie Cooke, John Kelly, Brian King (1977). 2012's theme "After The Future", curated by Annie Fletcher examines how certain artistic practices provide an active invocation of the present and speculate how we arrived here in the first place. The first eva held in two years, a very successful marketing strategy, has created quite an online buzz around the exhibition, with a regularly updated twitter, that encourages user engagement.

Artists’ projects were selected through an international Open Call for proposals and exhibitions take place in both gallery and non-gallery spaces. A programme of talks, workshops and events accompanies the exhibitions and provides further opportunities for audiences to engage.

Young Model were invited by the organisers to attend the exhibition. Linda Hayden, Assistant Education Curator at The Model and maintainer of the successful Young Model/Young Curators project, invited me to join them on the day. I accepted without hesitation as I was keen to see the exhibition, before it ends on August 12th, and public transport services in the West of Ireland are just as bad as our broadband connection (irregular, delays, etc), so I was doubtful that I would see it at all!

Young Model beneath 'Construction X', Luc Deleu, 1994/2012, made up of 9 shipping containers, in Arthur's Quay Park.
This installation must be the iconic centrepiece of eva, it stands proudly in the centre of Limerick city, probably the most accessible piece of art within the whole exhbition. People have engaged with it in a variety of ways - our guide Aoibheann joked that everyone in Limerick's facebook profile picture features them posing with it! This work was first exhibited at eva 1994, the use of shipping containers alludes to Limerick's industrial past as a busy port. Judging by the streets of Georgian houses, you can imagine that Limerick was once an affluent port city. Currently, it has one of the highest rates of youth employment in Ireland.

Sam Keogh, 'Monument For Subjects To Come', 2011

Doireann Ní Ghrioghair, 'Ruins', 2012

Sanja Iveković's 'Shadow Report' (2012) is perhaps the most distinctive installation at eva, the crumpled, ominous looking sheets of paper are strewn throughout the exhibition, creating an urgent coherency between each space. The Croatia-born artist first created 'Shadow Report' at MoMA, but adapted it for an Irish context.

All the above are exhibited at 103-104 O'Connell St., a NAMA owned building, loaned for the purpose of the exhibition (you can see the unfinished walls in the background of these pictures), and it hoped that this space can be utilized for exhibitions in the long term, rather than reverting back to the disused state they were previously, a concrete legacy of the economic downturn Ireland is continuing to experience.

There was too much to squeeze into our brief visit but we did manage to head down to Faber Studios, an artist collective run from what I believe used to be a former hardware store. Their project 're-possession' promotes the value of reuse and a culture of exchange in the community. Re-possesion aims to explore "the psychological impact of loss through personal stories (tragedy), the methodical documentation of objects (taking inventory), and the rehabilitation of the object by the craftsperson (resurrection)"... more information can be found here.

They have opened a temporary workshop in Faber Studios, inviting members of the public to create their own objects from the lost and found objects they hold there.

Inventory of lost and found objects at Faber Studios

Objects are catalogued individually and stored in categorized boxes, for the public to choose from

Faber Studios has the advantage of large windows for display of objects and for curious public to look in at the creative folk creating!

Some of the whimsical objects created by the public who have passed through Faber Studios

José Carlos Martinat, 'Vandalized Monuments: Power Abstraction 4', 2012
Our final pit stop was up to the 10th floor glass platform of Riverpoint to see this piece by José Carlos Martinat. The visitor was invited to "vandalize" the piece, a challenge we accepted with glee (this piece was pure white at the opening of the exhibition). The structure of the piece challenged questions of power, which are subverted by the audience at the artists' prompting, by "vandalising" this work of art.

One of the installations I found most compelling was Gavin Murphy's video installation entitled 'Something New Under The Sun' (2012). Pivli Takala's 'The Trainee' (2008) captured all our attention, produced in a collaboration with Deloitte and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. For the project, the artist was working for a month as a trainee "Johanna Takala" in the marketing departement of Deloitte where only few people knew the true nature of the project. During the month long intervention an initially normal-seeming marketing trainee starts to apply peculiar working methods, her fellow employees began to act up in response to her behaviour...

I felt invigorated after viewing the exhibition, I hadn't been to an event on such a large scale for a long time. The enthusiasm of everyone involved was infectious, the Director Woodrow Kernohan introduced himself to our group when we arrived and our guide Aoibheann McCarthy, from the Limerick City Museum of Art was patient and attentive throughout the day, which is admirable when dealing with a boisterous group of 16 and 17 year olds.

Yael Bartana, 'And Europe Will Be Stunned', 2010, Limerick City Gallery of Art

It is hoped that the event can become biennial, funding permitting, so all eyes on Limerick, a city evolving and adapting, even through the bad times. We could do with taking some lessons from them.


  1. I loved this blog post! Great to get an insight into what type of art is going on in the smaller Irish cities. When you come back to Belfast next, we should make sure it coincides with "culture night" - an evening when smaller galleries open their doors to the public until late. Free wine, lots of different art, some akin to the type of installations you've photographed.

    What do you think informs art from Limerick? Do you notice any differences between the style of pieces in the south west as opposed to the bigger galleries in Dublin? Even the more fringe galleries in Dublin - what kind of art do they predominately explore? In Belfast, there is a trend of art going on at the minute where people invite the public into their houses and explore home/public differences, etc. It's a bit scenester though, so really only the same group of people mimicking each other, but I do like that idea of organic expression: art in the home, making use of different kinds of space, especially given the recession!

    P.s. Interesting fact: Barrie Cooke was really good friends with Ted Hughes! They used to go fishing together all the time. Hughes abandoned Plath on their trip to Cleggan under the guise of meeting Cooke to go fish. In fact, he went to Spain with his lover. But that, is another story!

  2. Also - love the finger mirror! So freaky!