Dublin Contemporary 2011

Billed as one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever staged in Ireland, the Dublin Contemporary exhibition, open from the 06 September to 31 October certainly lives up to the hype. It exhibits contemporary art from over 114 international and Irish artists in six separate venues – Earlsfort Terrace, the Douglas Hyde Gallery, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Royal Hibernian Academy and most importantly, the city of Dublin itself.

The title and theme of the exhibition itself is aptly; “Terrible Beauty – Art, Crisis, Change & The Office of Non Compliance” borrowed from Yeats’ poem “Easter, 1916” ; a response to turn-of-the-century political events to cite art’s underused potential for commenting symbolically on the world’s societal, cultural and economic triumphs and ills. The second part of the exhibition’s title underscores Dublin Contemporary 2011’s emphasis on art that captures the spirit of the present time, while introducing the exhibition’s chief organisational engine: The Office of Non-Compliance.

The main exhibition, in Earlsfort Terrace, makes brilliant use of the dark, drab and dated colours of the former medical college. Located among the disused laboratories and antique lecture halls, the exhibition offers unparalleled atmosphere and ambiance. The space is fitting for the cause, it’s a wonder it has lain vacant for so long.

A favourite was the installation by Ciara Scanlon, a Limerick artist who borrowed from the infamous cry of Scarlet O’Hara “As God is my witness, I will never go hungry again!” You can get involved by recounting the phrase while wearing a harness in front of a microphone and backdrop which is actually recorded for the installation. Visitors can also comment or add artistically to the exhibition in the Cardboard School on the main floor. Finally a school where you can doodle, deface or daydream to your heart’s delight.

It’s an exhibition engaging the visitor to scour the city and it’s surroundings, to source the hidden roadwork street art installations or participate through the main art galleries.

It is an exhibition aimed at all the family with a number of areas set up, specifically in the Earlsfort Terrace venue where children can play or experiment with their artistic abilities. There are numerous talks and lectures, some given in the space the artist is using or by the artist themselves. The list is endless.

Dublin Contemporary is an exhibition which is on par with counterparts in other major cities. Even better is that it is partaking in Culture night, this Friday 23rd September, so the entire exhibition is free. It reminds us why Dublin and Ireland really is a place full of culture.

Sophia Purcell.

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