The city of Limerick shares EVA 2014 between two main venues. The main gallery is Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA). The second space is a disused milk plant on the other side of the river. This latter site reflects the changing economics of the city, from an agricultural hub to one of culture. Indeed the plant once owned by Golden Vale shows the signs of disrepair.
Agitationism refers to a process of agitating systems. One of the single most important attributes for such an operation is criticality. The artist Humberto Velez, who locates his place of living and working as both Mexico and Manchester, also presents a gap in his work THE UNDERDOG or EVA International Cup 2014. For this work Velez employed the local dog track. The names of the greyhounds running in his ceremonial race were all temporarily changed to highlight issues of “politics, culture, identity and economics”. This means that punters could cheer their support for each dog and enjoy the comfortable surroundings of the local nightlife. It also brought together two different social demographics and allowed artists to mix freely with locals. Perhaps this is the sort of agitationism which El Baroni means.
Camnitzer’s words read the same whether you are going up or coming down the stairs. You do not have to be able to read all the languages provided in order to appreciate his message of understanding. Although you might not understand the Irish word dúrto mean ‘stupid’, it does. Both stupidity and ignorance are presented here to be a universal concern, other people don’t know what you know, they know what you don’t. If language, a tool for communication, is employed as a tool for discrimination, then paranoia comes of its variety. Thankfully, Camnitzer has stressed the short-sightedness of this historically tragic perspective.
LCGA also houses something called Final Machine. The work is presented as a three channel video installation. In a single room, three circles of coloured light are matched by the repetition of circles cut into the carpet on the floor. Using the circle as a visual formula, Amanda Beech defines, focuses, and disguises what is in the frame. As the channels change, her subjects range from philosophy and spontaneity, to natural science, and even covert operations of the CIA.
Final Machine was located in LCGA, while Wow and Flutter could be seen in a small room of a disused milk plant. In the case of each video, we are shown how nature is a significant constant, one which we can use to support any number of very man-made arguments. In the ways we relate to nature which is not our own, we may in fact be born to agitate. Perhaps this natural relationship is what classifies Agititionism as natural also.
Brady’s stooge is given the words we assume a parrot might speak. This somewhat mirrors the work of Galway based Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley, directly across from it. Taking a speech written by Karl Marx for the occasion of the 1867 meeting of the International Working Men’s Association, Morley and Flannagan use the medium of video to relay its sentiment. Although never delivered by Marx, its existence appears to locate the island of Ireland as a political stage worthy of the example and recognition.
The feelings on show unsettle in more than just their delivery. However, it is perhaps the camera’s clinical examination of facial expressions which affords us the possibility to be morbid about subjects so alive with recognisably local consequence. In spite of, or maybe because of this rhetorical enhancement, we are stirred by our very inaction. We remain merely viewers, while the words spoken on screen are those of actors in our place.
A radio hanging off the wall receives the tinned chatter from local airwaves. Observing the strengths and weaknesses of varying counter arguments of systems theory, Price takes us through a wall of noise to arrive at her impressions of petulanceand acceptance. The lights of her studio form a halo on screen. If nature is what defines our relationship to be that of agitator, Price reminds us that it is important not to be too clear about our definitions of nature itself. Perhaps the plainness of such comprehension would only make chaos all that more attractive a proposition to those who understood the simpler forms of such action.
Still on the grounds of the old milk plant, This Monkey,is provided by The Patrick Jolley Estate. It is a short video starring the rhesus monkeys of Delhi’s backstreets. Their protest occurs on screen in the absence of humanity. They leap and sprint past the camera. Their behaviour is not for the screen but for the chances which they define as real. They lurk in the abandoned areas as intruders of the city. The video ends with an allusion to violence, monkeys standing over the discovered bones of sacrifice. We may determine that the monkeys know little of our horror. The music for the duration is a haunting and inexplicable score, instrumentalising and identifying locality as the partition which produces culture.
It is such agitations which compel our futureactions. In this light, EVA 2014, Agitationism makes a statement which can be understood as intended to spark future activity. For El Baroni, the viewer is part of a wider community. Agitation is thetrigger. It clicks to agitate.
“The last century, if you like, is finished, really, in the political field, so we need to do something really new, but we don’t know precisely what.”
– Alain Badiou
After the Incident at Antioch, A Tragedy in Three Acts, (provided in the work of Eva Richardson McRea, 2013, ‘Film/Act/Event’ 21mins)
EVA International – Ireland’s Biennial
Curated by Bassam El Baroni
Various locations in Limerick
12 April – 6 July 2014
Review by Darren Caffrey
Darren Caffrey is supported by an Artlinks Bursary.