International art at the heart of Midsummer

IF the diverse art exhibitions running throughout the Cork Midsummer Festival have one thing in common, it is their strong international dimension.

International art at the heart of Midsummer

Setting the tone for this is We Live By The River, at the Wandesford Quay Gallery.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the twinning of Cork with Cologne, it is the return leg of an art exhibition exchange between selected artists from the Backwater Artist Group and members of GEDOK Cologne, an art group committed to the equal recognition of women in the art world. Featuring work by Angelika Wittek, Beate Gördes and Hiltrud Gauf, and curated by Cork artist Tina Darb, We Live By The River presents the Rhine, as it flows through Cologne, as both a point of arrival and departure, a place of play and leisure and a locus of hope and opportunity.

Utilising paper and textile material, Wittek’s work makes direct references to this. Her installation Shipping Transport features a multitude of paper boats, many made from the pages of international newspapers, reflecting a variety of European and Asian languages; some constructed from plain paper. They hang suspended in a rectangular block creating the impression of an overcrowded waterway. Any forceful movement in their vicinity causes them to bob as if they were in the water.

“The idea is that rivers transport not only goods but also they transport influences from other countries, from other cultures, and they open the people of a town to other ideas,” she says.

Her piece, Reasons To Leave, offers a counterpoint. A hanging coat covered in words such as ‘work’, ‘hunger’, ‘poverty’ and ‘hope’, it offers the motivations to why people leave.

Working mostly in video, Gördes’ dreamy work is bound up with ideas of travel and the architecture that surrounds the banks of the Rhine in Cologne, from cabal cars to their famous bridges. In one piece, Swimming Home (Hohenzollern Bridge), the superimposition of fish makes it appear as if the structure is submerged.

“With this fish, I express my emotion when I’m coming home to Cologne. Like a fish I’m diving into Cologne. I love Cologne very much,” she says. Her work also includes an audio piece conveying the different rhythms to be found riverside as marching bands echo the sound of movement on the bridge. This is complimented by the sole piece in the show by a Cork artist, musician Mark O’Leary’s more bucolic Weir, a field recording featuring the sound of a river and church bells.

Hope and opportunity are in short supply in Cruel & Unusual, a photography exhibition at the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, which looks at incarceration on a global level through the work of 11 international photographers.

The exhibition stems from a successful Kickstarter campaign initiated by Pete Brook, an Englishman based in Portland who runs a blog called Prison Photography, in 2011.

“It was like a learning project to inform people about incarceration globally and how artists are working within that,” says Peggy Sue Amison, director of Sirius.

The exhibition acquired a more global perspective with the involvement of Dutch curator Hester Keijser, which resulted in an exhibition at the Noorderlicht Gallery last year.

The work that Brook and Keijser felt showed the widest breadth of use of photography just happened to be by women. There is little doubt that these are also the most arresting.

Curated by the Black Mariah gallery at the Triskel Arts Centre, Brinks Helm is a micro festival of video and performance art, concerts and special events, featuring internationally recognised and emerging artists that use and reference music as part of their work.

Renowned for his sleeve art on Black Flag and Sonic Youth albums, Raymond Pettibon’s work has sometimes referenced Charles Manson, and his two-hour film The Judgement Day Theatre: The Book Of Manson, re-enacts the Manson Family’s last days.

Tony Oursler’s Synesthesia: Alan Vega is a fixed camera interview with the celebrated frontman of New York electronic punk duo Suicide. This screening is one part of a wider project of Oursler’s that includes interviews with Arto Lindsay, Glenn Branca and Tony Conrad. Another No Wave alumnus featured is Irish filmmaker Vivienne Dick.

Visibility: Moderate is a travelogue around Ireland, which was shot on Super-8 in 1981. Ryan Trecartin’s schizoid A Family Finds Entertainment and Adham Faramawy’ borderline erotic keep-fit video Total Flex also feature.

All films are screened at 6pm, Monday to Friday at the Cornmarket Centre on the Coal Quay and are followed by a live performance by local musicians and artists.

The influence of Cubism on Irish artists is examined in Analysing Cubism at the Crawford Art Gallery. Far from taking an insular view, Irish artists such as May Guinness, Jack Hanlon, Evie Hone, Mainie Jellett, Norah McGuinness and Mary Swanzy enthusiastically absorbed the latest trends in modern art on the continent.

The idea of exchange is continued with the Cork Printmakers’ hosting of the 5th International Temporary Residency. It runs at Stapleton House, Oliver Plunkett Street until Jul 5.

* www.corkmidsummer.com

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