Conjuring for Beginners

Conjuring for Beginners
Library Shelf Location 17.CONJ
Publication Date 2012
The call of “overture and beginners” by a stage director prompts a flurry of activity, the call for ‘beginners’ warning actors to be on stage before the curtain rises. These beginners are both sculpture and tableaux: frozen in their places, creating the illusion that time is about to be released from its inert pause, the show about to begin. Exhibitions are also shows, but with durations that stretch over weeks rather than hours and with a cast and crew who are fixed in their animation, in tableaux, loops and scenes. Both in the space of theatre and in the scorching light of the white cube, artists become conjurers who create images and experiences, sometimes supported by the illusions of their apparatus.

This summer Project Arts Centre throws open its doors to the visual arts, presenting three exhibitions in all three spaces – the two theatre auditoriums and the gallery. Across the multi-disciplinary arts centre, exhibitions include a major new commission by Sam Keogh (IE), a group show featuring works by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel (FR), Angela Fulcher (UK/IE) and Ruth E. Lyons (IE), as well as an ‘empty’ exhibition with artworks by Zbynek Baladrán (CZ), Janice Kerbel (CA) and Susan Philipsz (UK).

Sam Keogh’s major new commission Terrestris is an exercise in excavation. Sealed in the seemingly infinite darkness of Project Arts Centre’s largest theatre space, Keogh’s installation focuses on clusters of small, carefully lit sculptures and plinths each apparently mined from an unlit, hulking, monumental form in the centre of the space. Simultaneously repulsive and attractive, Keogh’s forms are reminiscent of minerals, crystals or rock samples, but their toxic colouration and obviously artificial constituents speak of the stuff that the earth cannot digest, rather than anything produced naturally. The shared provenance of Terrestris and the contingency of its status (its reliance on context, belief, ideology or market value) claims a radical democratization of material. From this base level of equality, Terrestris claims its agency-as-matter.

Project Art Centre’s second theatre space forms the apparatus for a group exhibition that is notionally empty, with all seating and sets removed. With installations by Zbynek Baladrán, Janice Kerbel and Susan Philipsz, each of the artworks has its own motivation, draws our attention to its formal elements, and is largely estranged from the arts plastique of the visual arts. Zbynek Baladrán’s short film installation Night of the World is focused on the moments before a film begins, Janice Kerbel’s Kill the Workers! is a play performed solely by theatrical lighting, and Susan Philipsz’ sound installation I See a Darkness is an aural experience that gradually translates into sculpture. The exhibition-in-repertory is, like much theatre, a durational experience. Unfolding artwork after artwork, the exhibition harnesses the skills and illusionary strategies of technical theatre, while experimenting with the structures, display and scenography of contemporary visual art exhibitions.

Set within the gallery space of Project Arts Centre is the capsized reality of an island scene. Grounded by Amphibious Sound, a swarming, black, neoprene wetsuit sculpture by Ruth E. Lyons, and roofed by Hurry on Sundown, a billowing, multi-coloured hanging sculpture by Angela Fulcher, this is a place where objects, artefacts and artworks exist contrary to their original material construction. Like the illusionist’s apparition, works by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel resemble gigantic totemic necklaces or quasi-ceremonial findings, their precious ceramic and wood forms twisting the building blocks of contemporary culture. In this space, the conviction of the exotic or other is as imaginary as the island itself.

Amidst Conjuring for Beginners, are piles of publications for the public to freely take away. Exposing the ideas behind the artworks throughout the entire building, or jettisoning away into the reflections of a philosopher, each of the publications has its own purpose. Stacked like worn pillars, the subjects of these humbly produced books range from works of literature and experimental writing, to art works and a colouring-in book – inspiring children and adults to conjure the scene.


ISBN 97818724493350
Quantity 1
Pages 68
Authors Cian O'Brien, Tessa Giblin
Format Paperback
Publisher Project Arts Centre, Dublin
Related Artists Sam Keogh, Janice Kerbel, Zbynek Baladrán, Susan Philipsz, Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel, Angela Fulcher, Ruth E Lyons
Category Group Exhibition/Multiple Artists
Language English

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