14 June 2021
By Tom Collins
Cork City itself becomes a gallery – Explore artworks on your journey across the city – as Cork Midsummer Festival brings extraordinary arts encounters to audiences – 14 – 27 June 2021 – corkmidsummer.com
Featuring over 40 events, from 14 –27 June, Cork City itself will become a stage, a dance floor, a gallery and more as Cork Midsummer Festival 2021 takes place. From the Port to the Fort, on your very own doorstop and across the city you will find extraordinary art encounters.
This year’s festival will see an expanded visual art element which will be presented in the public realm. The city will for 2 weeks become a vibrant gallery, featuring new commissions, installations and explorative artwork So as you travel around Cork city explore the artworks you discover on your journey.
An explorative art piece examining contemporary social issues of human trafficking, modern-day-slavery and drug farming in Ireland, The Day-Crossing Farm, is by Marie Brett in collaboration with sound designer, Peter Power, lighting designer, Sarah Jane Shiels and filmmaker, Linda Curtin. This immersive, evocative art installation at a secret Cork city location, will be streamed online as well as welcoming small audiences in-person. This ambitious multi-sensory artwork was developed over two years’ consultation with human justice and advocacy organisations, scholars, gardeners and persons with lived experience of trafficking and forced labour.
Marie Brett’s vision for the work is to provoke new thinking and discussion around one of society’s most critical contemporary human rights issues. The timely production comes to life just weeks after publication of the new ‘Report on Human Trafficking and Exploitation on the Island of Ireland’, by researchers at Mary Immaculate College Limerick. This report (April 29th, 2021) revealed that the number of adults and children trafficked to the island of Ireland between 2014 – 2019 is at least 38% higher in the Republic and 20% higher in Northern Ireland, or 30% higher across the island, than the figure officially recorded. The figures represent an overall increase of 186 persons, to a total of 800 victims of human trafficking to the island of Ireland within six years.
Tickets for the live installation from 14-20 June can be booked via corkmidsummer.com €15 / €10 (limited to a max of 2 people per time slot, from the same household). Tickets for streaming (14 -27 June) are priced €5.
In a new commission from the National Sculpture Factory, artist Eimear Walshe will create a vibrant neon artwork to be hung on the facade of the NSF building. Eimear Walshe’s practice is based on research in fiscal and sexual economies and histories, working to reconcile the aesthetics, values and tastes of their queer and rural subjectivity. Launching on 21 June, this new work by Eimear is entitled ‘The Land for the People’. The project draws on Walshe’s research in 19th and early 20th century land contestation in Ireland, and its significance in the contemporary era. The temporary neon sculpture will light up nightly between the summer and winter solstices – 21 June to 21 December 2021. An interactive publication based on 19th century political pamphlets also accompanies the sculpture. The project is part of a series in Walshe’s work which prompts re-imagining land ownership and land use in Ireland.
Bassam Al-Sabah’s Longing, Beyond, commissioned by the Glucksman and curated by Chris Clarke, combines digital animation, painting, sculpture and textiles to convey visions of war, resistance and perseverance. Through digital and handmade works, which often incorporate intricate and laborious craft processes, Longing, Beyond explores how the past is continually revised to meet the present, and the ways in which juvenile fantasy is broken down into the reality of adulthood. Exhibited in the window façade of Finn’s Corner, Washington Street, the work also includes a short animated collaborative film by Bassam Al-Sabah and Jennifer Mehigan,“A Paradise Out of A Common Field”, exploring the iconography of the zombie.
Fall Out, is a series of installations across the city, curated by visual arts curators in residence Pluck Projects, featuring work by artists Jessica Ackermann, Padraig Spillane, Anne Ffrench, Vicki Davis, David Mathuna and Andrew McSweeney.
To Hold Still, by Anne Ffrench, is a sculptural installation made from briars which spills through the doll’s house space of the Lord Mayor’s Pavilion. The work draws on the idea of suspended time in fairytales, where brambles surround and protect a castle’s sleeping inhabitants. Accessible to a family audience on the imaginative level of the fairytale, To Hold Still is a visually striking meditation on time, threat and care, and further, a prompt for us to be still and allow nature to grow wild around us. Experience at Lord Mayor’s Pavilion, Fitzgerald Park, Cork.
Vicki Davis’ Meatán, sited in the Port of Cork, is an immersive living sculpture that references the live deportation of cattle from Cork and draws on processes proposed by industry to counter the environmental impact of cattle farming. This work developed from research into one of the Argentinean government’s solutions to the climate emergency: a balloon that collects methane gas emitted from cows. The ‘living’ sculpture takes the form of a balloon made from specially screen printed cattle feedbags, which will inflate and deflate slowly over the course of the festival. Meatán prompts us to examine the ways in which climate change impacts our imaginations.
Caryatids, by Jessica Ackerman, celebrates the history and strength, physical and symbolic, of female labour in Cork. This series of banners, in the port of Cork, makes reference to the Shawlies, Cork’s famous street traders, but also points to larger stories of changing labour practices and the ways in which these changes to the ways in which we work impact the urban landscape. The graphic design of the banners uses the layout of Excel sheets, each cell filled with vivd colour, to engage with contemporary office based work practice and the new architectural landscape in Cork that accommodates this new digital labour.
A window-based installation from Pádraig Spillane, Define Silver Lining, will jostle between shop windows occupied and not-occupied. Incorporating abstract imagery derived from consumer packing and using the structures of commercial display, Define Silver Lining invites us to think about the ways in we are affected by the technologies that support our lives. The work is accompanied by a soundscape by VEINS (Karen O’Doherty, Marc Rensing, Pádraig Spillane). The viewer is invited to follow a QR code that leads to a website and a sound clip comprising a melody line within noises made from the workings of electronic devices, electricity, the sounds of connectivity.
As Above, So Below, by Cork-born artists Andrew McSweeney and David Mathúnais, is an interconnected audiovisual system comprised of two individual real-time scenes – clouds above, water below – each unfolding digital panorama influencing the behaviour of the other. As Above, So Below brings together different aesthetic and technical aspects of each artist’s practice and is a continually evolving project, changing its form in response to the nature of physical space and the influence of new creative technologies. Experience in the windows of Cork Opera House.
Open Road is a new public artwork by Illustrator Kathi Burke developed in collaboration with the Glucksman and children from diverse communities across Cork city designed to amplify the voices of children from communities who have less frequent opportunities to engage in cultural, artistic and creative programmes. Through a series of workshops, children were provided with the opportunity to work collaboratively with a professional artist and to design an artwork for the public realm. The creative sessions introduced artmaking techniques to children and encouraged them to develop stories and drawings about their dreams. Fatti Burke interpreted the material produced by the children, identifying common themes, concerns and aspirations. During Cork Midsummer Festival 2021, the artist and participating children will paint their design on a pedestrianised street in Cork city centre.