Getting ready for the storm

Art reviews and news from Chris Hayes, champion of Limerick's bid to be European Capital of Culture

Chris Hayes


Chris Hayes

Getting ready for the storm

Kate O'Shea at the Limerick 2020 kids workshop at Ormston House Picture: Piquant Media

EVERY action has an equal and opposite reaction”, or so Isaac Newton told us. Most people don’t realise what he actually said was, “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts”. But that’s not as catchy. Get your act together, Newton.

Exhibitions offer the same possibilities for action, events and consequence. It’s something I’ve experienced (again and again) at Ormston House. We’re currently gearing up for our project, Murder Machine, which is in partnership with EVA International.

The EVA install team are busy at work too; the artworld is small enough that we all know each other, which helps when you need someone to complain with about the early starts, long days, inevitability of getting paint on your clothes and dirt all over your face.

The installation of an exhibition begins long before the artworks arrival. It begins weeks in advance with the discussions over every tiny detail, delving into millimetres of precision, only for the last minute alterations and unforeseen problems to change everything. It’s called project management, not project planning, for a reason.

So once the planning comes to an end, then we install the artworks? No, not even close.

Installing exhibitions in an art space begins with the de-installation of what was there before. Every nail leaves a hole, every video projector needs to be collected/returned, every one of the thousands of people coming through our grassroots art spaces, galleries, institutions and museums inevitably leaves dents, scratches, traces of their experience. The walls and floors will all need a fresh lick of paint.

On the other hand, exhibitions outside the regularly used art spaces presents its own challenges, necessitating a balancing act between preserving the unique characteristic of alternative spaces – such as former shops or factory’s, public spaces and beyond – and wanting to navigate the best position for the artwork to shine through. This is the challenge EVA International faces every year, stretching across the city and in such venues as the Kerry Group former Golden Vale Milk Plant, also known as Cleeves Factory, or the Sailor’s Home, and more.

Of course, an installation is about much more than just removing the residue of the past. Every video installation needs to be finely tuned, every TV monitor, video projector and set of speakers tested and tested again (still no guarantee the technology won’t strike on the day). Performance art presents its own kind of fine tuning, whether it’s planning how the layout and format will shape audience participation, or something as simple as the acoustics. Something I’ve particularly enjoyed at Ormston House is getting a sneak peek (sneak listen?) to the upcoming performance by Ceara Conway which is produced by DJ Deviant.

I always think of the run-up to EVA International as if Limerick is taking one large inhale, as venues across the city are closed for installation. To the public it must seem like a calm before the storm, but for us arts administrators, exhibition technicians, artists, curators, and writers, it’s anything but calm. I’m looking forward to the exhale; for when the doors are opened, the programme of exhibitions and events launched, and the discussion can finally begin.

Week by week I’ll be discussing EVA International, our own programme at Ormston House, and everything and anything cultural in Limerick, and in July we’ll find out about the 2020 bid – it’s a busy time for Limerick!

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