Communism, NAMA, cutting edge art – TULCA visual arts festival returns

The collapse of Communism and its legacy for Eastern Europe and the implosion of the Irish economy and its ramifications for our State are two major themes which will be explored in this year’s TULCA festival.

The TULCA Festival of Visual Arts begins tomorrow and will feature exhibitions of cutting edge art, workshops, talks, and concerts, in eight galleries and 12 venues across the city. The festival is curated by Megs Morley and runs until November 20.

Festival highlights

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘After the Fall’ and the artists participating in TULCA were asked to reflect in their works on how, in the words of Megs Morely, “the last number of years have marked a period of many overlapping crises, and falls, both national and international”.

Among the most potentially fascinating exhibitions will be those which look at how Eastern Europe has dealt with the legacy of Communism.

Travel to the former East Germany and it seems the country is happy to display its Communist past as an enticement to tourists, a taunt to west Germans, and as a badge of a kind of separate identity. Hungary has removed many of the major Communist public art works to the haunting Memento Park outside Budapest, while in the Czech Republic all traces of any kind of Communist past have been erased. These kinds of tensions and attitudes will be seen at TULCA.

Internationally acclaimed artist and film maker Amie Siegel will screen her multi-layered feature film DDR/DDR, about the German Democratic Republic and its collapse, using Stasi surveillance footage and interviews with former citizens and psychoanalysts, mediating on the history, memory, and shared technologies of state control and art.

DDR/DDR will screen four times daily in Nuns’ Island Theatre for the duration of TULCA.

Red Tours by Joanne Richardson and David Rych is a part fictional documentary looking at tourism, collective memory, statue parks, museums, and staged re-enactments of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Red Tours examines today’s dominant interpretations of Communism as kitsch or absolute terror. It is also a subjective travel diary mixing the personal and the political, reflecting on the process of self-colonisation and the politics of documentary programmes themselves. See it in the Niland Gallery, Lower Merchants Road, throughout TULCA.

Estonian artist Kristina Norman’s After War, which will be screened in the Galway Arts Centre, should also be fascinating.

In this video, Norman captures an event involving the Bronze Soldier monument in her home town of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The statue was erected in the city centre in 1947 as part of a memorial to Soviet soldiers. In April 2007, the Estonian government had the statue moved to a less prominent location in a cemetery, a decision that led to rioting which lasted for two nights.

The incident reveals tensions within Estonia arising from different identities and different interpretations of World War II.

Looking at events closer to home will be Galway artist Jennifer Cunningham’s exhibition International Monetary Field Day in the Space Invaders gallery, The Cornstore, Middle Street.

Jennifer, who works with paint, printmaking, drawing, film, and digital media, explains some of the ideas behind this exhibition: “We now have more than 2,800 ghost estates in Ireland and some 23,000 unoccupied houses,” she says. “One in every five houses in Ireland is now unoccupied. It's a symbol of the country's descent from the Celtic Tiger to a broken State, crippled by greed of consumers, developers and the banks.”

On a very different note, acclaimed Irish artist and film-maker Jesse Jones will show her new film Against the Realm of the Absolute, a part-remake of Joanna Russ’ 1975 feminist Sci-fi novel The Female Man, in the Galway Arts Centre.

TULCA talks

TULCA will also feature a number of public talks and lectures from the artists exhibiting at the festival. Admission to all talks is free.

Romanian artist Lia Perjovschi will discuss her practices in The James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway this Saturday at 3pm. Perjovschi’s work focuses on collecting, archiving, structuring, and distributing information about society, politics, and art which had been inaccessible to Romanians until 1989.

Also on Saturday, artist and writer Gregory Sholette will discuss his recent book, Dark Matter: Art and Politics in an Age of Enterprise Culture in the Galway City Museum at 12 noon.

On Saturday November 12, Fugitive Papers present Fugitive Dialogue #2’in Aras na Mac Leinn in NUIG. This experimental artistic research project will reflect on art and art-writing as a public activity. There will be contributions from Dr Gavin Murphy, Valerie Connor, and Joanne Laws as well as members of the public.

Amie Siegel will discuss her film DDR/DDR with Katherine Waugh, in Nuns’ Island Theatre on Friday November 18 at 6pm.

Jesse Jones will discuss Against the Realm of the Absolute, with fellow film-maker Vivienne Dick in the Galway Arts Centre on Saturday November 19 at 3pm.

TULCA concerts

Another aspect to TULCA will be a series of concerts and ‘sound events’. The opening such event is tomorrow when art-science collaboration Softday play upstairs in Kelly’s, Bridge Street, at 9.30pm.

Made up of artist Sean Taylor and computer scientist Mikael Fernström, the award-winning duo use their arts practice to explore relations to and understandings of nature and the world, expressed through sonifications and multimedia artworks and performances.

On Monday at 7pm, Ireland’s leading sound art improvisation group The Quiet Club play the Roisín Dubh.

The Quiet Club use stones, home-made instruments, electronics, amplified textures, Theremins, and field recordings to create sounds. The special guest will be Katie O'Looney, an improvising sound and visual artist.

Singer, songwriter, drummer, and performer RSAG (aka Kilkenny’s Jeremy Hickey ) will play a free show in the Róisín Dubh on Saturday November 19 at 9pm to coincide with the Tulca 2011 closing party.

Hickey plays the drums and sings. To accompany him, the rest of the music for his songs has been recorded separately and is played back at shows via tapes. Behind him is a screen featuring videos of him - in silhouette - playing all the other instruments that are being played on the tapes. So he’s there as one man and as a real and virtual band!

For more information on all the above see


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