Fort Dunree Summer Exhibition

Here and There: Artists Selected for Fort Dunree

August - 7th September

This annual project features art from recent degree and postgraduate shows selected by a panel of artists who know the unique locale and context of Fort Dunree. For 2011 the selectors were artists Ursula Burke, Sam Keogh, and Jim Ricks, who exhibited at Fort Dunree for Artlink in 2010.

In 1998 French curator/theorist Nicholas Bourriaud published a book entitled ‘Relational Aesthetics’, a term that sought to promote the idea that the artist was involved in creating a space in which relationships could be created between people and new conversations and ways of living started. He saw artists as facilitators rather than makers and regarded art as information exchanged between the artist and the viewers. It was a controversial point of view and had its supporters and critics. It could be developed however and this is what Artlink seeks to do in its Here and There exhibition at Fort Dunree. Taking work from Graduate and Postgraduate shows throughout Ireland Artlink wishes to create a dialogue about how contemporary art can work in a historic, military, rural setting such as Fort Dunree by allowing artists who have already shown there to choose work which they think fits in with the locational aesthetics, so to speak, of the site.

The term locational aesthetics is intended to imply creation of a debate as to how contemporary artwork can fit into the geographical, social, historical and political context of Fort Dunree. Fort Dunree is not a traditional ‘white-cube’ (clean lines, purpose built cube void of architectural/historic features) city-centre art space. Therefore for this exhibition, Artlink wishes to exhibit work that resonates with the specific site and setting of this Fort Dunree building. The art may not ‘speak’ directly about the context of this specific military fort, or of rural Donegal landscapes. But the art is selected as it starts new conversations on issues relevant to the site and setting of the Fort Dunree galleries i.e. histories, locations, people, traditions.

Marie Varley’s silkscreen print of blank stamp album graph paper is an oblique reference to symbols of national power and identity, in this instance the postage stamp, overtaken by new technologies and structures of power and meaning. William Smith’s work combines the form of an urn, which echoes (ancient) history and beliefs, with symbolism of the ‘atomic age’ as decorative motif, an echo of the twentieth century’s history and beliefs. Tim Millen’s paintings refer to historical themes of Romanticism in landscape painting, contrast a historical romantic representation of nature as an un-colonised frontier, wild and terrifyingly beautiful; with the contemporary condition of nature as urbanized, regulated and over-exploited. Cainneach Lennon’s Prairie Grass is completely at home in a rural landscape though at the same time is somewhat unsettling and alien. Billie Jean Cullen connects to the landscape, specifically narratives of those who work within it, through her study of the Irish forestry industry. Alissa Kleist’s work makes reference to a cultivated rainforest which was constructed on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, as resource for the British military base there, a manipulation of the ‘natural’ within a strategic location from which to exert power. Lesley Cherry’s The Knitted Word Project also retells stories leaving them open-ended rather than closed and dead. Marie Dollard’s works here are a juxtaposition of the traditional form of embroidery and the visceral concerns and associations prevalent within much contemporary art.
Iain McEllin explores how the systems and processes manipulated within making an artwork – here the mechanisms of printing – can test the limits of a viewer’s physical perception. Several other exhibiting artists give a new sense of purpose to old and discarded objects and create work from a concern with their form, surface and texture. The process of making these works of course continually creates new and chance occurrences, opening paths to the subconscious and to unexpected emotions and responses. Cathal McGinley uses found objects, which are often inherently fragile and ephemeral, ‘makes them feel good about themselves again’. Anne Marie Taggart works in a spontaneous manner with found objects creating new meaning through experimentation. Lucy Andrews creates unexpected scenarios and imagined narratives in her manipulation of everyday objects.

Artlink intends Here and There to develop as a opportunity to encounter contemporary art in a different and unique context.

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