EVA International 2016

Various venues, Limerick, Ireland

With more than 50 participating artists, this year’s EVA International nominally responded to the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising – the failed revolution that nevertheless set the pattern for the politics and ideologies of the future Irish Republic. Titled ‘Still (The) Barbarians’, it is one of a vast number of commemorative events and exhibitions around the country that are at their best when they ignore knee-jerk romanticization of past martyrs and, instead, explore how we deal with our histories, the imperatives for contemporary revolution and what the future might hold.

In EVA’s largest venue, the semi-dilapidated former Cleeve’s Condensed Milk factory, the many hours of video work make for an initially daunting prospect. However, Cameroon-born, Senegal-based curator Koyo Kouoh is an excellent exhibition-maker and has paced things well. Highlights here include Jeremy Hutchison’s Fabrications (2013–16), an installation exploring the history of Palestine through a semi-fictionalized account of indigo mining, which culminates in the hauntingly evocative image of a once-dazzlingly blue land drained of all its colour.

jeremy_hutchison_fabrications_2013_installation_view_at_eva_international_2016_courtesy_the_artist_and_eva_international_photograph_miriam_oconnor

Jeremy Hutchison, Fabrications, 2013, installation view at EVA International, 2016, Courtesy: the artist and EVA International; photograph: Miriam O'Connor

Jeremy Hutchison, Fabrications, 2013, installation view at EVA International, 2016, Courtesy: the artist and EVA International; photograph: Miriam O'Connor

Equally compelling, in an entirely different way, Jonathan Cummins’s trio of films – When I Leave These Landings (2004–09), Go Home (2010–13) and Out the Road (2012–16) – is a durational project following the thoughts and lives of four anti-Good Friday Agreement political prisoners and their families. Presenting the humanity of those it might be more usual to demonize, Cummins implies, in the subtlest of ways, that the only future in a divided land lies in the hope of understanding the mindset of those cast as ‘other’.

Alice Maher’s Cassandra’s Necklace(2) (2016), a reworking of her 2012 film, roots the conversation back in the mists of a more mythological, ancient time, giving rise to the idea that conflict, brutality and our baser drives and desires are elemental. Amanda Rice’s The Site Where a Future Never Took Place (2015) adds a note of beauty, albeit in a quietly disturbing way, as her camera pans an abandoned space, leaving us with the sense that nothing good can have happened there.

alice_maher_cassandras_necklace_2_2016_hd_film_still._courtesy_the_artist_and_eva_international_photograph_courtesy_vivienne_dick

Alice Maher, Cassandra's Necklace (2), 2016), HD film still. Courtesy: the artist and EVA International; photograph: courtesy Vivienne Dick

Alice Maher, Cassandra's Necklace(2), 2016, HD film still. Courtesy: the artist and EVA International; photograph: courtesy Vivienne Dick

Dorothy Hunter’s Unassigned Monuments One through Six (2013) is ostensibly based on monuments and their passing (think of the toppled statue in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias, 1818). What we see are elegant, Aleana Egan-esque steel, wood and jesmonite structures that demonstrate how objects, however subtle, inflect and charge the space around them.

Most satisfying of all at this venue is a trio of installations: Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley’s A History of Stone, Origin and Myth (2016), Criodhna Costello’s Murmuration (2014) and Alfredo Jaar’s The Cloud (2015). Two videos looking at water, stone and air – accompanied by Jaar’s dramatically lit hanging sculpture of a dark storm cloud – both shake and stir.

criodhna_costello_murmuration_2014_hd_video_still._courtesy_the_artist_dyson_gallery_london_and_eva_international

Criodhna Costello, Murmuration, 2014, HD video still. Courtesy: the artist, Dyson Gallery, London, and EVA International

Criodhna Costello, Murmuration, 2014, HD video still. Courtesy: the artist, Dyson Gallery, London, and EVA International

In comparison, Liam Gillick’s And then … (2016), a ‘spoken word film festival’ taking place every Thursday of the biennial at Mother Macs pub, may seem a little off-message. Yet, behind the amusingly abstract descriptions of film plots lies the central idea that art’s currency is metaphor, which is often a vehicle for greater truths than can be conveyed by narrative. 

Over at the biennial’s other main venue, the Limerick City Gallery of Art, Kouoh’s exploration of Ireland as Britain’s first colonial experiment splinters – under the contextualizing weight of current warfare, migration and refugees – into a compelling series of conversations about the legacies of colonization and its contemporary cousin, globalization. Ireland may be marking a century since revolution but – as works including Philip Aguirre y Ogtegui’s Cabinet Mare Nostrum (2016) and Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor’s Le monde et les choses (The World and Things, 2014) and Le monde et la dette (The World and Debt, 2016) suggest – power imbalances and injustices continue to haunt us all.

Gemma Tipton is a writer and critic based in Ireland.

Issue 180

First published in Issue 180

Jun - Aug 2016

Most Read

Ahead of ARCOMadrid this week, a guide to the best institutional shows in the city
A report commissioned by the museum claims Raicovich ‘misled’ the board; she disputes the investigation’s claims
In further news: Jef Geys (1934–2018); and Hirshhorn postpones Krzysztof Wodiczko projection after Florida shooting
If the city’s pivot to contemporary art was first realized by landmark construction, then what comes after might not...
Ignoring its faux-dissident title, this year's edition at the New Museum displays a repertoire that is folky, angry,...
An insight into royal aesthetics's double nature: Charles I’s tastes and habits emerge as never before at London’s...
In other news: Artforum responds to #NotSurprised call for boycott of the magazine; Maria Balshaw apologizes for...
At transmediale in Berlin, contesting exclusionary language from the alt-right to offshore finance
From Shanghai to Dubai, a new history charts the frontiers where underground scenes battle big business for electronic...
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton, UK
Zihan Karim, Various Way of Departure, 2017, video still. Courtesy: Samdani Art Foundation
Can an alternative arts network, unmediated by the West's commercial capitals and burgeoning arts economies of China...
‘That moment, that smile’: collaborators of the filmmaker pay tribute to a force in California's film and music scenes...
In further news: We Are Not Surprised collective calls for boycott of Artforum, accuses it of 'empty politics'; Frida...
We Are Not Surprised group calls for the magazine to remove Knight Landesman as co-owner and withdraw move to dismiss...
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film is both gorgeous and troubling in equal measure
With Zona Maco opening in the city today, a guide to the best exhibitions across the Mexican capital
The question at the heart of Manchester Art Gallery’s artwork removal: what are the risks when cultural programming...
In further news: Sonia Boyce explains removal of Manchester Art Gallery’s nude nymphs; Creative Scotland responds to...
Ahead of the India Art Fair running this weekend in the capital, a guide to the best shows to see around town
The gallery argues that the funding body is no longer supportive of institutions that maintain a principled refusal of...
The Dutch museum’s decision to remove a bust of its namesake is part of a wider reconsideration of colonial histories,...
At New York’s Metrograph, a diverse film programme addresses a ‘central problem’ of feminist filmmaking
Ronald Jones pays tribute to a rare critic, art historian, teacher and friend who coined the term Post-Minimalism
In further news: curators rally behind Laura Raicovich; Glasgow's Transmission Gallery responds to loss of Creative...
Nottingham Contemporary, UK
‘An artist in a proud and profound sense, whether he liked it or not’ – a tribute by Michael Bracewell
Ahead of a show at Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum, how the documentarian’s wandering gaze takes in China’s landscapes of...
In further news: Stedelijk explains why it cancelled Ettore Sottsass retrospective; US National Gallery of Art cancels...
With 11 of her works on show at the Musée d'Orsay, one of the most underrated artists in modern European history is...
Reopening after a two-year hiatus, London’s brutalist landmark is more than a match for the photographer’s blockbuster...
What the Google Arts & Culture app tells us about our selfie obsession
At a time of #metoo fearlessness, a collection of female critics interrogate their own fandom for music’s most...
A rare, in-depth interview with fashion designer Jil Sander

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

November - December 2017

frieze magazine

January - February 2018

frieze magazine

March 2018