Written by Paula Danziger in 1986, the pop-fiction teen book by this same title presents a young girl in 2057 who has to leave all her popularity and friends behind as her family moves for her father’s new job in a city on the moon. Strangely, this fairly unknown little paperback was required reading in several US highschool English classes, alongside Shakespeare and edgar Allen Poe.
As much as the original title was a double entendre encompassing the heroine’s opinion of the culture in her new town and the more obvious physical conditions on the moon, this exhibition has also developed a dual purpose for the title: while it is a critique of curatorial practices that rely on literary references in order to place contemporary visual art, the works have been selected specifically for their dialogue and examination of the physical and figurative spaces they inhabit- an empty warehouse in a prime city location that, if not for the faulty economic practices upon which the banking and government sectors relied, there would never be an opportunity to use for the arts.
The counter-argument against using literary devices maintains that visual art can and should be considered an independent language, and therefore subject to its own grammar and rules, rather than compared, measured against or validated by a standard from a different way of thinking. Literary thinking is not the same as embodied cognition; rather, it arrives and is developed from it. Visual art is initially apprehended by the senses, and the physical, involuntary memory-reactions it invokes; only after apprehension do we then construct and deconstruct additional layers of meaning. Curation as a creative practice should strive to work within the language of the visual art it presents, creating new, relevant grammar, phrases and definitions that speak to the body and senses before falling back on a literary crutch. The endemic nature of this sort of easy-way-out approach is only too evident in that the titles or catch phrases selected are so often repeated… unfortunately, the most readily available example is A Terrible Beauty, which was not only the title of a literary event in Dublin last year, but also is the title of a French biennale in Lyon at the very same time as Dublin Contemporary. If we are going to rely on literary props for the cohesion of presented visual work, then a completely random and fairly unknown paperback ought to be equally valid… and, if we pardon the pun, possibly more novel. For such a fantastic, cutting-edge contemporary exhibition of such scope, it seems unnecessarily safe and perhaps stifling to continue to force Dublin to define itself by its literary heritage rather than to embrace an unknown and unwritten future for visual arts in Ireland.
Atmosphere, Space, Presence:
Depending on the scale of perception, there is no such thing as empty space…or, conversely, there is nothing but. These pieces delineate empty/not empty space; they intersect and circumscribe it; they call attention to its hidden nature while passing through or staying to occupy it. The various projects by Graffiti Research Lab France transmits and transmutes meaning from one medium to another, changes soundwaves to lightwaves; Charley Friedman’s playful pieces simultaneously dominate a physical and psychic geography. Ciaran McClelland’s work can perhaps be experienced as a geometric opposite of Friedman’s Big Red Ball: although they both circumscribe a space- a space occupied by air, particles, dust- one is impenetrable, impressive in its opacity and what it hides, while not only invites, but demands entry and admission to be experienced; we are not separate from the atmosphere it describes; we are not separate, then, from the information and images beamed through the space.
As always, our exhibitions are free to the public- we hope you can join us for the opening of this exhibit.
Show opens Friday, September 9 at 6:00pm
Show open 12-5 daily through October 2