Visual Arts Programme
The Concourse Installation 2005
Introduction to Concourse Installation 2005
“We are living in a kind of reality that is... unreal.” Charles Simic*
Three artists – Theresa Nanigian, Linda Quinlan and Fiona Mulholland have been selected to create new works for this year’s Concourse Installation Series. The programme of commissions runs back to back, opening on 20 October and running until 13 December, starting with Theresa Nanigian’s Time Value Analysis – A Tool for Our Times, followed by Fiona Mulholland’s For Every Action… and finishing with Linda Quinlan’s I want you around.
The Concourse Space has always presented a particular challenge to artists. The strong architectural form in the centre of a local authority building forbids the kind of neutral comfort a white cube gallery, or a traditional exhibition space pertains to permit.
Conceived from the start (1998) as an installation programme commissioning new and experimental work, artists have never been bound by curatorial criteria. However, like any site-based work, the site itself – in this case the Concourse – becomes at the very least, the frame of the work and it seems to be near impossible to separate the artwork from its context. To an extent an ability to take on, or to work against – to resist – the Concourse, either symbolically or physically has been a determining factor in the success or failure of the individual artists’ installations.
The three artists selected to participate in this year’s programme are in differing ways concerned with confronting the reality of contemporary life from fresh perspectives. Linda Quinlan, whose scaled and highly aesthetic installations are playfully reminiscent of sci-fi, other-world, laboratories or fantasy landscapes, suggests the fragility of our contemporary world, as we become more and more distant from nature. Implicit here is a questioning of morality and an underlying responsibility to our threatened planet. Fiona Mulholland’s large-scale sculptural installations function as a ‘snapshot of contemporary anxieties, exploring the emotional geography of a dysfunctional society’. Offering a counter balance to our over-surveyed society, which can present an unreal image of reality, Mulholland exposes through recordings and interviews of a cross section of society, true expressions of alienation and restlessness. Theresa Nanigian uses the tools of slick business such as PowerPoint and video to re-present to us a society that is addicted to improvement. As standards are forever forced to rise, new language, jargon and strategies are invented and must be learnt. These ‘canned solutions’ for better,more efficient living and working are Nanigian
suggests,“what suffocate some of the simpler joys of life.”
What seems to link this disparate group of artists is a desire to get at a truth. To work against the unreality, that which conceals what really is happening. The subtle infiltration of everyday life by media, polls, statistics, surveys: new formulas and strategies, takes on a ‘real’ tactical value. To face the reality and in a manner which allows the imagination to do interesting things, as Nanigian, Quinlan and Mulholland propose to do, does not only reveal a ‘nonsense’ underlying living, but a certain silencing of the bewildering world in which we are living. Each of the artists has intelligently considered the destination for their work at the County Hall Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and the seat of a local government. It is a very good place to start a conversation around the art and the questions that it raises, particularly at a time when reality appears to be more enemy than friend.
*Charles Simic (poet) in an interview with Belinda McKeon, Irish Times, Saturday Review, 23 July 2005.