The 15th TULCA Festival of Visual Art was officially launched at the Connacht Print Works last Friday and continues until November 19. The festival features 17 artists from Ireland and overseas, many of them presenting new work.
This year’s TULCA title is They Call Us The Screamers which alludes to the hippyish primal therapy commune based in Donegal in the 1970s. While several works in the festival explicitly reference the commune, most branch out to engage with, in the words of curator Matt Packer, topics like “psychotherapy and selfhood; withdrawal and refusal; alternative models of community and family;…”
With any multiartist, multiform event such as this there are invariably works to which one responds with puzzlement, indifference, even aversion, but the TULCA smorgasbord also offers plenty for any viewer to take pleasure in. In the Connacht Printworks (the festival extends across five other city locations ) Florian Roithmayr presents a sequence of gleaming copper bowls set on low white tables. There is a zen-like serenity in their arrangement, an impression further enhanced by the accompanying Dolmen Music stored on a tablet nestling in one of the bowls. Composed by Meredith Monk it is, er, suitably monkish.
Yvette Monahan visited the island of Innishfree, where the Screamers lived for a time, and her Beyond the Ninth Wave comprises sequences of photographs and lumen prints. Her beautiful landscape photographs feature poetic images of rain-drops freckling the surface of the sea, lichened, mossy rocks, and long yellow grasses streaming like hair beneath greeny water while her lumen prints of pieces of turf have an alluring ghostly glow.
There is a touch of science fiction in Siobhan McGibbon and Maeve O’Lynn’s intriguing Xenophon; Re-birth and Re-verse, a sculpture and audio installation which proposes “neural re-programming for inter-species self-development” and depicts a composite life-form part human, part fish with an assortment of limbs and mouths.
I also enjoyed Kaspar Oppen Samuelsen and Marie Louise Vittrup’s The Liquid Crystal Sheep feat. Peninsula Extras. This is given its own room, around three walls of which are lined paper and bamboo cut-outs of characters that seem to have emerged from some timeless folk-tale while colour-saturated images of sheep occupy the fourth wall and a short animated film is of a piece with the cut-outs. There was a lively interplay between the different elements and the whole piece cohered well.