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Out Now | September / October Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The September / October 2020 issue of the VAN has arrived and been dispatched to members and arts organisations. As countries around the world continue to grapple with the shifting realities of COVID-19, the impact on the cultural sector is resonating far and wide. Thousands of museum and heritage jobs have already been lost in the UK and in the US, in a bid to offset looming deficits caused by the extended organisational closures. Coupled with the recent activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter campaign – which brought about the dismantling of problematic public monuments and their contentious histories – such instability provides a backdrop for current critical debate surrounding the shifting role of institutions in times of crisis. At the time of writing, the International Council of Museums continues its efforts to revise their working definition of a museum, which has not changed in almost 50 years. Opinions remain divided on whether institutions should be places that research, conserve and exhibit artifacts, or ones that actively engage with wider society in working towards global change.

Irish institutions are also finding ways to redefine their roles in the COVID-19 landscape, particularly with regard to audience engagement. On 30 July, NCAD Gallery convened an online event, titled ‘The Air We Breathe: Multiple Publics in Future Practice’, which focused on “social engagement in the age of social distance”. This fascinating panel discussion highlighted an urgent need for innovation in the sector, calling for diverse strategies for working with artists, assembling communities around projects, and creating physical presentations in the public realm, beyond artworks simply being “displaced into the online sphere”, which “prohibits conjunction”. Reasserting Arundati Roy’s analogy of the “pandemic as a portal” – which asked us to consider what we might bring with us, and what we might leave behind – Ailbhe Murphy (Director of CREATE) suggested that we need to think ambitiously about “recasting an infrastructure” within the Irish arts ecology. This includes reassessing the distribution of resources and the publicness of gallery spaces, while also questioning the validity of metrics as a way of attributing value to institutions.

Following a similar line of inquiry, Matt Packer’s column for this issue outlines the collective concerns of Ireland’s Strategically Funded Organisations. In addition, several feature articles describe how festivals and biennales are having to adapt to ongoing public health restrictions surrounding mass gatherings. Miguel Amado interviews Marie Brett about Day of the Straws, a work which draws upon the cholera pandemic of the 1830s to explore the experience of COVID-19 through ancient and contemporary cultural lore. Matt Packer also interviews Merve Elveren, guest programme curator for the 39th Eva International, about the pragmatic and curatorial challenges for the biennale, which will now be delivered in three phases, with the first phase opening on 18 September and continuing until 15 November.

The September / October 2020 issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) has been dispatched to VAI members nationwide. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The VAN is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. You can also read articles on Visual Artists’ News Sheet website.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

On The Cover: Marie Brett, Day of the Straws, photograph; courtesy the artist.

 

 

The post Out Now | September / October Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet first appeared on Visual Artists Ireland.

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Out Now | November / December Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The November / December 2020 issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) has arrived and been dispatched to members and arts organisations. With the ongoing closure of all cultural venues nationwide (due to Level 5 public health restrictions, aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19) once again galleries are having to find ways to supplement, extend or archive their exhibition programmes across a range of digital platforms. VAN’s November – December issue considers the pragmatic, conceptual, aesthetic and institutional benefits and challenges of these virtual and screen-based presentations – displaced from physical encounters and no longer dependant on bodily proximity.

The competition brief for the DCC/VAI Art Writing Award 2020 drew on current critical debate surrounding online exhibitions, with writers invited to consider whether this curatorial model, without significant precedent, is an alienating or democratising force for the presentation of art. Applicants responded to the complexity of the brief in diverse and interesting ways. Meadhbh McNutt’s winning essay is published in this issue, outlining the scope of current discourse and potential innovations in artistic practice.

Also in this issue, Matt Packer considers the proliferation of screen-based art as an important opportunity to reimagine the functionality and form of exhibitions. For the first time, VAN’s Critique section includes remote coverage of two online exhibitions, namely ‘Not Alone’ – a travelling exhibition of small-scale works, initiated by Golden Thread Gallery and disseminated via social media – and ‘Drawn From Borders’, a 3D virtual gallery, developed by Artlink in Donegal. Also reviewed in the November/December Critique section are: Sinéad Mi Mhaonaigh at The Dock; ‘The Sea Around Us’ at The Model; and Bernadette Doolan at GOMA Waterford.

Several regional exhibitions are also profiled in this issue, including: Austin McQuinn at The Source Art Centre; the ‘Connection’ project at Droichead Arts Centre; Orla Whelan at Rathfarnham Castle (Dublin); and ‘6’ group exhibition in Kilfane Glebe House Studio, Thomastown, which also coincides with the Regional Focus on County Kilkenny.

This issue also features coverage of several recent or ongoing festivals: Joanne Laws interviews Sarah Browne, Curator of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2020; Joanne also reports on key projects commissioned for Galway 2020 European City of Culture; while Theo Hynan-Radcliff reviews phase one of the 39th Eva International. In addition, curator Alissa Kleist outlines various artistic projects realised as part of the Freelands Artist Programme.

In the last issue of 2020, we are profiling several Irish organisations who have been celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, namely 25 years of Hillsboro Fine Art and 30 years of Backwater Artists Studio.

The November / December 2020 issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) has been dispatched to VAI members nationwide. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The VAN is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres where possible. You can also read articles on Visual Artists’ News Sheet website.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

On The Cover: Eimear Walshe, The Land Question, 2020, courtesy the artist and EVA International.