GUIDES by Séamus Nolan

GUIDES by Séamus Nolan


The word ‘curator’ originates from the Latin ‘cura’, which means to care for. When planning our first joint project; to prepare an open call for participants, the access officer in the Linenhall Deirdre Melvin reminded me what it means to curate. That the role of the curator is first and foremost to care for or offer care towards the artworks but also toward the audience and in our case towards the participants, the co-curators. In a sense the project has been a process of collective care, engaging a variety or diverse perspectives and world views as a way to explore or to tease out issues and problematics of what it means to care for each other and to operate collaboratively.

This exhibition coincides with the Arts Council of Ireland marking 70 years since its inception in 1952, and 60 years supporting artists by purchasing works for the collection. Recently the arts council have placed diversity and inclusion as central to all of their arts policies and this is reflected in the many new acquisitions from artists living in Ireland. Artists whose work deals with social cultural and political issues which are hugely relevant today. In our immediate history massive changes have occurred and while the artworks in many respects do not pertain to be historic documents, as items unique to the periods of their production and the experience of those artists, their very materiality speaks of a set of concerns that have shaped and continue to shape collective memory and meaning.

In setting up the conditions to co-curate this public collection a degree of collaboration has occurred to effectively explore select and respond to the artworks. Over the course of the past 30 years or so there has been a repositioning of the emancipatory potential of collaborative and participatory practices in the arts. The process of collaborative making, of interrogating context and embedding change in the very way that art is viewed, overtly places art within the terrain of the social and vice versa the social within the terrain of the arts. These modalities are largely premised on the notion of collective transformations, of creating new configurations of the social which might mobilise personal and by proxy political transformation. In other words processes of collaboration are recognised as having the potential to formulate experiences of how people live, work, and play together, beyond the logics of capitalist modes of organisation.

The project presents a series of configurations informed by the concerns and practice of various groups and individuals. It is made up of the contributions from those who through their work on a daily basis advocate for the sharing of public space, of amenities and services for all members of our communities. It proposes a space of consideration where our perceptions and understanding might be challenged, in offering a guide to how different perspectives, ontologies, and ways of being in the world might coexist.

Working with the staff and community of the Linenhall has been a pleasure, working with each contributor and participant in the project has been eye opening. I hope that the project will go some way to the overall aims of the centre to be a space where difference is not left at the door but where it is celebrated, challenged, explored, and shared.