Visual Arts Programme
The Concourse Installation 2001
Introduction to Concourse Installation 2001
The Concourse Installation Programme at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is seen by accident by most people as they walk through the building — either on their way to the labyrinth of office spaces in the building or to visit the council on some practical, official task. But three times during 2001 visitors to the building were given the chance to pause and reflect on the installations, Bedding Out, Desk Space and Room, each made specifically for the Concourse Space.
This on-going installation programme at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council invites artists to make work for a non-gallery context, something that offers benefits as well as challenges. A gallery-visiting audience comes prepared to engage with the artwork on show and the work is shown in a dedicated environment that offers little distraction. In contrast, installations made for the Concourse Space have to draw passing visitors into the space and then hold their attention once there — a difficult task that each installation achieved in different ways. As well as the visiting public, the audience for the installation programme also includes the 1000 or so Council employees who work in the building, and both Amanda Dunsmore’s work Desk Space and Katrina Maguire’s Bedding Out directly addressed both these audiences.
The three installations for 2001 created very varied experiences for the audience and drew us into the space using different means. The smell of the herbs and spices used in Bedding Out caught our attention when entering the building before we had seen the installation and the faintly heard soundtrack to Desk Space drew us into the strange sculptural structures in the Concourse Space to discover the initially unseen sequence of images. All the installations required a level of interaction from the viewer in order to fully appreciate the work — whether a physical, sensual or conceptual engagement. As well as directly addressing the physical characteristics of the building each installation directly engaged with the public and this engagement was central to the intention of each work. The viewer was encouraged to physically enter the work itself, an engagement that served to break down the usual distance between artwork and audience. And conceptually there was an openness to all three installations that created a space for the audience to bring their own references, associations and memories to the meaning of the work.
Each of the three artists responded to the Dun Loaghaire Rathdown County Council Building as a context to make and show art. This approach to making work, now loosely known as ‘site-specific work’ is increasingly important in contemporary art practice as artists question arts ability to stand separate from its surroundings and consciously place their work within the wider context.
There is of course a long and continuing tradition of placing art with in civic surroundings. It is almost taken for granted now that any new piece of architecture will have an accompanying commissioned artwork. However, this installation programme is an exciting alternative to this tradition as it offers the artists the opportunity to make temporary work for the Council Buildings. Temporary installations allow artists to use a range of media, approaches and ambition that are so often curtailed once the restrictions of permanence are introduced.
All the artists have cited the scale of the Concourse Space as the initial attraction of making work for this programme. It is a dramatic space that gives artists more scope than most galleries and here again lies the importance of the installation programme as it provides artists the support, encouragement and space to make ambitious works that would remain ideas without the facilitation of the Dun Loaghaire and Rathdown Arts Office and the Concourse Installation Programme 2001. As this programme continues it will be become an increasingly important supporter of the production of new contemporary art in Ireland.