Exhibition review: TULCA

WHAT BECAME Of The People We Used To Be is the title and over-arching thematic question which informs this year’s TULCA visual arts festival which runs until November 23.

In galleries across the city, a whole host of artists provide disparate responses, offer much food for thought, and provide rich rewards for the viewer’s time and attention.

Curated by Gregory McCartney, TULCA features the work of 41 artists, both emergent and established from home and abroad. A recurrent strand visible in the works is the relationship and interaction between rural and urban or nature in its raw, pristine state and human intervention.

In Pétur Thomsen’s Imported Landscape the imposing, starkly snowy landscape, of his native Iceland is photographed amidst the construction of a huge hydro-electric dam which threatens to alter it forever.

Icy northern wastes are referenced with a degree of humour – with a comment on modern commodification - in Cecilia Danell’s installation Build Your Own Scandinavian Loneliness. This comprises a stack of cardboard boxes all labelled with the work’s title. One of them is opened to reveal a little IKEA-style self-assembly kit comprising the components of an image of an isolated Nordic homestead.

Both the aforementioned artists are exhibiting in the Fairgreen gallery.

Among the other notable works on show in the venue are Aisling O’Beirn’s delightful duo of animations - Crucible and Structures Invisible to the Naked Eye - which drew their inspiration from scientific observatories.

Veteran English painter David Hepher presents his trademark urban landscapes in which the forms of trees are set against and contrasted with the structures of tower blocks of flats.

One of the rising young talents of the Irish art scene is also present in Patrick Hogan’s selection of photographs which meditate on people and locations around his Tipperary homeplace. Elena Nasanen’s film The Spell offers an atmospheric modern take on Sleeping Beauty.

In the Galway Arts Centre, the humans v nature motif is strikingly present in Brigitte Zieger’s Tank Wallpaper, a large installation-cum-animation in which a battle tank trundles through the decoratively leafy landscape of patterned wallpaper before swivelling round to approach and menacingly confront the viewer.

The recent London Olympiad is celebrated in photographer Seamus Murphy’s wry and thoughtful film, Went The Games Well which offers a series of images of the game’s impact on London city life this past summer.

Overall, a trek round the various exhibition spaces is an art trail well worth embarking on.

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