Concourse Space, Dún Laoghaire County Hall, January 15 to 25 2004. www.hungryangrysexy.com
hungryangrysexy is a show of new work by thirty-three emerging artists of the final- year BA Visual Art class at the IADT Dún Laoghaire. It’s the second ‘pre-degree’ exhibition to be shown at the Concourse space in the County Hall, building on the success of last year’s event, curated by Finola Jones (artist and lecturer), and opened by independent curator, Mark Garry. The show is supported by the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Arts Office, along with a host of other private sponsors.
On the opening night, the Concourse space was absolutely jammed with people, the enthusiasm and excitement palpable: this exhibition is a breath of fresh air and clearly last year’s show at the same time had whetted the collective appetite of the public for more. A diverse range of media was represented, from painting, drawing, print and sculpture to video, sound, photography and installation. The tone of the exhibition is generally fresh, dynamic and enthusiastic, the artists taking on the challenge of showing in a difficult space, coming up with ambitious solutions (Ricky Brady’s Still pouring hung from the ceiling on a pulley system, for example).
The photography in particular was very slick in its presentation, and sold well at the opening. Of variable quality, this work was some of the strongest, particularly Maria Phelan’s Measured, Peter Kane’s evocative images of shopping trolleys in deserted spaces, and Sonja Souminen’s moody and atmospheric images of domestic / commercial spaces. Martin Cregg’s set of two photographs, dealing with the illusion and opticality inherent in the photographic process, were excellent, and Colm Desmond’s Gaze was similarly strong (a conceptually loaded work, and one of the few pieces on show that was self-consciously ‘art-about-art’).
Though difficult to piece together a general thematic through such a large and diverse exhibition, ideas to do with consumerism, luxury and leisure (and their manifestation in public and private space) could be traced through much of the work on show. There was also a move towards articulating and representing more personal and small-scale narratives and desires within these broad themes, for example Patricia Chan’s photographic series of Figures in spaces and Mary T. Hardiman’s sculptural work, The bride amongst her stable mates . Rachelle Tully’s photgraphic documentation of a one-person, semi-functional fibreglass boat, entitled Man-made mediocrity, was a beautiful piece of work that expressed naïve optimism, ironic utopianism and elements of comic tragedy. This gentle and understated work was for this viewer the most charming and original piece in the show.
Immensely important to final-year students, an exhibition such as this offers an opportunity to evalute the work before the final exhibition and assessments in the summer. The experience of hanging a show (seeing how long it all really takes, experiencing last-minute technical disasters, rowing over space) serves to cushion the inevitable nerves at the end of the year and make things slightly easier to deal with. While some work just didn’t suit the space in which it was shown (Felicity Ford’s Boy, a sound piece, suffered in such a large open space), there is now time to iron out these problems. And leaving aside the technical, the experience of showing the work to an anonymous public can prompt many critical conceptual questions that must be dealt with on return to the studio. This kind of ‘dry run’ can highlight important issues that otherwise remain invisible until the degree show- when, ultimately, it is too late.
To be fair, the work in the show is clearly ‘work-in-progress’ and has not yet reached its full development. Some pieces, though techically accomplished, seem to lack content, and others show strong conceptual input but are obviously still in development towards fuller articulation or better presentation. The high level of professionalism applied to production and display is obvious: this exhibition is a show of work by young artists, not just an amateurish ‘student show’. True to the energy of its title, this exhibition was a promising appetiser, leaving the stage set for some challenging and exciting work at the Dún Laoighre degree exhibition.
Sarah Browne is an artist and writer currently based in Dublin.
BA Visual Art IADT Dun Laoighre at the Concourse Space, Dun Laoighre, January 15 to 25 2004, see also www.hungryangrysexy.com .