This exhibition, by four TBG+S studio artists, Vivienne Dick, Sarah Pierce, Marcel Vidal, Eimear Walshe, takes its title from a photography project by architect Denise Scott Brown (1). As Scott Brown puts it, there is a “messy vitality” (2) to everyday urban architecture. This exhibition encourages wayward looking beyond and around our everyday perspectives of the familiar city environment, in order to examine new ways of participating in civic collectivity.
Conversations with the artists began as a response to the city of Dublin in a state of adjustment during our recent times of isolation, distance and limited movement. Each artist has examined different elements of the city that keep communities enriched, as well as barriers and limitations that prevent meaningful connection with others. The artists consider the opportunities for exchange in both public and private spaces, and there are instances in which their individual research and observations interrelate. This conveys a shared response to the locality of the gallery and the artists’ place of work in the studios. Reflecting our urban environment, the exhibition features clashes and divides in aesthetic, scale and perspective. Communal, comforting imagery is set cheek by jowl with oppressive and harsh forms, just as the contemplative gallery faces the erratic streets of Temple Bar. The fundamental studio processes of conversation and reevaluation will continue as the show unfolds, and some works will be completed and presented throughout the exhibition; by film, readings and publication.
Vivienne Dick has produced a two-screen film that captures a connection with nature in the city. The imposed slowness of the lockdowns in Ireland, and the reduction of commuter traffic and construction noise has given prominence to the birds and animals that share our environment. From the Mud Island community garden, to the Grand Canal, TBG+S’ balcony over the city, and the Big Bang Dance project who perform at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in ‘Social Distancing Circles’, Dick captures the moments of hope-filled connection with each other and the world around us. Fragments of reflective text punctuate the film, with a soundscape of drums, insects, and the city emerging from a period of silence during the lockdowns.
Sarah Pierce has focused on a specific structure, the concrete shelter in Phoenix Park, to describe sustained connections to public space. The shelter is the prompt for an expansive artwork made of a pamphlet, with research and texts by Donna Rose and Grace O’Boyle; a set of banners, scaled to the shelter’s interior, sewn by Aoife McLaughlin and dyed by Clíona McLoughlin; and a multi-lingual reading group led by Nasser Aidara. Each marks the shelter as a site of radical communality, study and care. The centre banner depicts a German Waldschule in 1904, a self-reflexive moment of protest and solidarity that captures our own awareness of ourselves as historical subjects of the pandemic.
Marcel Vidal’s monolithic sculpture resembles the form of an empty plinth; a symbol that presents a connection to the removal of imperial monuments in Ireland’s history, and more recent protest movements that challenge commemorative sculpture. Other dominant structures in the cityscape are brought to mind, including artworks in the corporate sector that assert wealth, prestige and power. Such artistic monuments are frequently utilised in unintended ways by the general public, and as a result are further isolated from their original role as artworks through structural revisions by local councils or management companies. Vidal’s ominous sculpture imposes on the public space of TBG+S and highlights the redundancy and vulnerability of oppressive, exclusionary architectural methods.
Eimear Walshe has made a new film, BEEF, that traces the changing nature of land use in Ireland through the material history of cattle. From mythological imaginings to the political tactics of the Ribbon Men and the Land League, Walshe draws on local landscape and geography, ruminating on some specifically Irish approaches to interpersonal and international conflict. While much of the focus is in the countryside, we are reminded that many decisions throughout Irish history relating to access of land and property have been controlled by those unfamiliar with rural tradition; and that the ripples of these historic laws continue to effect the way people live both the country and the city. BEEF will be available to view online and will be premiered by TBG+S during the exhibition.
Later this year, Vivienne Dick will hold a solo exhibition at Jeu de Paume, Paris. Her feature film New York Our Time was awarded Best Documentary at its world premiere screening at Dublin International Film Festival 2020. Sarah Pierce has shown extensively in the EU, UK and North America with major projects at IMMA Dublin, MuMoK Vienna, Tate Modern London, Walter Phillips Gallery Banff, and in biennials, including Lyon, Moscow and Venice, where she represented Ireland in 2005. Marcel Vidal recently held a solo exhibition of paintings at Kerlin Gallery, Dublin. He received the Hennessy Craig Award, RHA Gallery, Dublin in 2019, and recently exhibited at The Complex, Dublin (2020) and The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon (2018). Eimear Walshe participated in EVA International (2020-21) with two new film commissions. Their recent projects and presentations have taken place in Van Abbemuseum / Design Academy Eindhoven (2017-18) and Galway Arts Centre (2017).
Wayward Eye is supported through the Arts Council Commissions Award 2020.
(1) Wayward Eye – The Photography of Denise Scott Brown was part of the "Time, Space, Existence" exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Palazzo Mora, 2016. In 2018, in cooperation with VSBA, PLANE–SITE organised two exhibitions, also titled Wayward Eye, at Betts Project, London and Carriage Trade, New York, and published an accompanying book with texts by Denise Scott Brown and Andrés Ramirez.
(2) Denise Scott Brown, Wayward Eye, ed. Andrés Ramirez (PLANE–SITE, 2018)