Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wanted: art commissioner with a watery mindset

ARTSCAPE: CULTURE IRELAND is looking for a commissioner to manage Ireland’s representation at the 2011 Venice Biennale, writes Aidan Dunne . It might sound idyllic, but when you get right down to it, it’s a demanding, hugely detailed job. The successful applicant will get to deal with Italian bureaucracy, for one thing, and with a competitive international art world. It’s as well to remember, too, that in Venice things get from A to B by water, which calls for a whole new mindset.
Those interested in taking on the challenge – individuals or organisations – must pitch a plan involving an artist or artists with “a significant national profile”. They may curate the project themselves or bring a curator on board, and they must indicate an outline budget. The application deadline is 5pm on June 1st. Later in the month, shortlisted applicants will be asked for more detailed proposals and interviewed by a selection panel.
Budgeting is likely to present a particular challenge. In 2009 Culture Ireland invested €210,000 and the Arts Council €70,000, and additional fundraising was necessary. Proceeds from sales of the artists’ work also went into the kitty. Although the application process is rigorous and detailed, it is usually hotly contested. That’s because Venice retains its position as the world’s most prestigious art event, in certainly the most beautiful venue.
Ireland has upped its Venice game in recent years, particularly with commissioners Mike Fitzpatrick and Caoimhín Corrigan and the artists Gerard Byrne and Kennedy Browne. They shared a great venue, Istituto Santa Maria della Pietà, with Willie Doherty and Susan MacWilliam, Northern Ireland’s outstanding representatives at the last two biennales. The hope is to retain this spacious venue; if not, it’ll be a headache for the eventual commissioner.
Midsummer danger
The enticing drip feed of information about Cork Midsummer Festival became a torrent at Thursday’s launch of this year’s programme, writes Mary Leland . Director William Galinsky admitted to anticipating “a whiff of scandal” in relation to Jérôme Bel’s signature dance piece, The Show Must Go On, announced as a provocative assembly of 18 dancers with 18 pop classics. The piece is still associated with tags such as “anti-theatrical” and “notorious”, which greeted its first appearence in 2001.
But it looks as if Bel (at Cork Opera House on June 18th and 19th) will have his competitors in danger this year. A glance at the schedule suggests it should carry a health warning, as several productions come with hazard lights blazing.
Corcadorca’s headline piece, Plasticine, by Vasily Sigarev (at the Savoy from June 14th to 26th), is described as “pulsating with anger, vitality and destruction”, and as it includes “scenes of a disturbing nature” it is strictly for adults only.
Then there’s FML (Everyman, June 25th and 26th), which contains such “strong and sexually explicit language” that a “parental advisory note” restricts it to over-16s. This production, which will tour to London, Helsinki and the Festival of Youth Theatre in Scotland, is the fruit of workshops by Pol Heyvaert of Belgium’s Campo Gent company. Co-commissioned by Cork Midsummer Festival and the Granary Theatre as a work in progress last year, it focuses on the lives of local teenagers.
This year’s festival will include other initial workshops and showcase several international productions and companies, along with the interactive Best Before, from Rimini Protokoll.
Films “they tried to ban” will also be screened, starting on June 12th with the 1926 silent movie Irish Destiny, at City Hall, where Proinnsías Ó Duinn will conduct, with Micheál Ó Súilleabháin playing his own score. At the same venue, and giving his first recital in Cork, Philip Glass closes proceedings on June 26th.
The Spiegeltent is replaced by Midsummer Nights at the Pavilion; performances, gigs and exhibitions will be spread around the city centre, including a 26-hour non-stop improvised soap opera at the Camden Palace. Meanwhile, at Merchants’ Quay shopping centre, there’s the chance to have your hair cut by children from St Vincent’s National School – and don’t worry, they have been trained!

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