TULCA 2013 - journeys to the Golden Mountain and beyond

TULCA 2013, Galway’s international festival of visual art opens next week, and for 14 days will host a diverse range of artistic expression and practice throughout numerous galleries and venues across the city.

TULCA, now in its 11th year, will be officially launched on Friday November 8 in the Galway Arts Centre at 7.30pm, followed by a launch party in the Róisín Dubh from 9pm. The festival itself runs until November 24.

This year’s festival theme is ‘Golden Mountain’ which places emphases on paradox, imagination, and the endeavour to make real that which your imagination has conjured up. The idea comes from this year’s festival curator Valerie Connor.

“There are no mountains made of gold,” she said, “but we can certainly imagine one and, as the argument goes, once we’ve imagined one it exists. So it’s a paradox. The ‘Golden Mountain’ is a puzzle. It’s about what we believe is real and what we think we know. It’s about how, in the course of denying something exists, we simultaneously conjure it up. It speaks to the power of representation and imagination to transform our ‘realities’ or maintain the status quo.”

Ms Connor is an independent curator and advises on visual arts projects. She is also the chair of the National Campaign for the Arts and teaches on the photography BA at DIT. She has previously been the commissioner for Ireland’s participation at the international art biennials in Venice and São Paulo; the Arts Council’s visual arts adviser; and a member of the board of IMMA.

Festival producer this year is Kate Howard. A graduate of NUI Galway with a master’s in arts policy and practice through the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, Ms Howard is also a fine art graduate from Sligo IT and The Centre for Creative Arts & Media GMIT. She is chair of Adapt Galway, constituency co-ordinator of the National Campaign for the arts Galway.

Artists and artwork

As well as being the curator, Valerie Connor is also curator of The National Women’s Council of Ireland’s Legacy Project (www.nwcilegacyproject.com ). Part of that project, entitled Still, We Work will form part of TULCA 2013.

Still, We Work features four specially commissioned works by Sarah Browne, Vagabond Reviews (Ailbhe Murphy and Ciaran Smyth ), Miriam O’Connor and Anne Tallentire, and will be on display from November 9 to 24 in the 126 Gallery.

The artists were asked to reflect on contemporary representations of women’s work in the context of the 1913 Dublin Lockout centenary. The works will address women’s experiences of contemporary working conditions, workplaces, and the invisibility of much of ‘women’s work’.

Another major show at TULCA will be Theta Rhythms by Bojan Fajfric. Fajfric was born in Yugoslavia in 1976. He studied visual arts in the Netherlands and graduated from the Royal Academy in The Hague. He uses mostly video installations as a form of expression, and although he left the former Yugoslavia in 1995 his work constantly refers to his native land.

Theta Rhythms is a reconstruction of one day of the eighth session of the Central Committee of the Communist League of Serbia held on September 23 and 24 1987, an event historians point to as the beginning of the end of the State and the horrific war that engulfed the region in the 1990s.

The conference though had the aim of introducing an ‘anti-bureaucratic revolution’ designed to meet the demands of the public for political reform. Instead, it brutally increased social inequalities and caused ethnic conflicts. The film is shot in HD. It lasts 17 minutes and is presented in loop.

There will be a strong County Galway interest in another of the major exhibitions at this year’s festival - Ón Bhoinn Aníos/From the Bottom Up by Dubliner Kasia Kaminska.

A mix of photographs, audio, and newsprint, Ón Bhoinn Aníos looks at the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement that began in Connemara in the late 1960s.

Due to increasing dissatisfaction and an overwhelming sense of abandonment during that period, the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement was established in order to give a voice to an under-served, under-represented Gaeltacht community. Indeed one of the results of the movement was the foundation of Raidio na Gaealthactha in the early 1970s.

Tracing the history of the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement and documenting the sites of broadcast industry that came as a result, Ón Bhoinn Aníos/From the Bottom Up reveals the significance of this industry to the people and the place of the Connemara Gaeltacht. This project is not about revivalism or growth but about the preservation and care of a community and a language that if abandoned, would result in the loss of an integral part of Irish culture and identity.

The Speedie Telstar (Trips from the Analogue to the Digital ) is the title of a sculpture and a series of visitor excursions to the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland, NUI, Galway, created by Neal White and Tina O’Connell.

The artists will create a sculpture of the experimental satellite, the Telstar 2, which was launched into space in 1962. The Telstar was the product of a multinational agreement to develop space communications and satellite television capabilities technology globally and was subsequently used for the First Global Press Conference by John F Kennedy in 1962.

“Our sculpture celebrates not only the global communications and technology achievement of Telstar,” say the artists, “but the local context by highlighting the work of a local Galway hero, Brendan ‘Speedie’ Smith, co-founder and curator of the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland based at NUI Galway.”

Comic book fans will be interested in Melanie Jackson’s The Nexus. In this exhibition, the Londoner has made a special printing for TULCA of her 12 page comic, The Nexus. The comic was originally produced during a residency at the University of Bristol. The Nexus includes elements from the artists’ research into the collections at the Museum of Country Life, County Mayo by Jackson.

Ms Jackson is a senior lecturer and head of undergraduate sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art. See www.melaniejackson.net

Volunteers needed

TULCA is calling for volunteers to assist at this year’s festival. The festival is committed to championing Galway city and county as central to the contemporary visual arts community and as a hub for artists, audiences, and culture. It seeks to promote the development and exhibition of the contemporary visual arts culture through a national and international network of artists, audiences, curators, and art critics.

There are six exhibition venues for TULCA 2013 and volunteers are needed to sit in and invigilate one of these venues between 11am and 3pm, even for just one day between November 8 and 24. All volunteers will be invited to a Thank You Event in Bierhaus on November 24. Those in volunteering should email [email protected]

For more information on TULCA 2013 see www.tulcafestival.com

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