An exhibition of works by the four artists shortlisted for the £15,000 Glen Dimplex Artists Award 1999 opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 28 May. As in previous years, the artists — text, sound and video artist Orla Barry, sculptor and installation artist Susan MacWilliam, photographic artists Hiroshi Sugimoto and Catherine Yass — have been allocated individual spaces at the Museum in which to represent their practice. The exhibition brings together a number of new works, not previously exhibited in Ireland, and some earlier pieces closely related to the work for which the artists were nominated. It will also be the first time that any of the shortlisted artists have exhibited at IMMA. The presentation of the award, which is sponsored by the Irish-based company Glen Dimplex, in association with the Irish Museum of Modern Art, will be made by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Síle de Valera, TD, at the Museum on Wednesday 14 July 1999.
Orla Barry’s work combines the autobiographical with the fictitious in deliberately disjointed narratives in diary, audio and photographic forms. In the exhibition she will represent the complexity of her practice with a number of works in which photography, video and audio tapes, slide projection and books are used. They include ‘A Tear for a Glass of Water’, her 1998 video work in which a young woman acts out the role of storyteller in a seemingly absurd narrative involving dramatic theatrical gestures and frequent changes of props, and Findlinge, 11 large photoworks of sea rocks made over the last two years. Born in Wexford in 1969, Barry now lives and works in Brussels.
Susan MacWilliam’s work presents “images of the theatrical, the seductive and the macabre”. Using a variety of materials and techniques to play with texture and scale, it deals with illusion and artifice and is strongly influenced by the visual language of stage, cinema and television. She will be represented by a video work ‘The Last Person’, which is based on the trial of Helen Duncan, a medium from Portsmouth, who was the last person to be prosecuted under the British Witchcraft Act of 1735. In it we see images of the artist posing as a medium, as excerpts of the court reports of the trial are read. A series of black and white stereoscopic images of spirits and ectoplasm sculptures will also be shown. MacWilliam was born in Belfast in 1969, where she continues to live and work.
Hiroshi Sugimoto’s black and white photographs deal with fundamental realities such as light and time, the sea and the sky, while also exploring how time is captured on film. His impeccable 20 x 24 inch prints are produced using a 19th-century big-box camera to create images of extraordinary luminosity and detail, which are at once crystal clear and strangely ambiguous. He will show a selection of works including two triptychs from his seascapes series, which document the horizon at different points around the world. All other detail is eliminated from the pictures – the only variables being time and place. Also on show will be a selection from his most recent series of icons of 20th-century architecture such as Le Corbusier’s Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France and Frank Lloyd-Wright’s Sturges House in Brentwood, California. Born in Tokyo in 1948, Sugimoto now lives and works in New York and Tokyo.
Photographic artist Catherine Yass is best known for her vividly coloured photographic transparencies displayed on lightboxes, which she uses to explore the architecture and life of public spaces and buildings. Her work also aims to highlight what she describes as “the constant tension between the cameras controlling vision and its paradoxical failure to see”. For the exhibition Yass is showing two sets of works which explore contained male spaces, comprising images of male public toilets in London and male capsule hotels in Tokyo. They are both spaces that the artist, as a woman, is excluded from and which, therefore, hold a forbidden fascination; yet for men they are designed to be totally inclusive. This dichotomy is echoed by the double processing technique that Yass uses to create multi-layered images, making the run-down, grubby spaces appear at once seductive and repellent.
The Glen Dimplex Artists Award, sponsored by the Irish-based company Glen Dimplex in association with the Irish Museum of Modern Art, is designed to mark a significant level of achievement in the work and practice of exhibiting artists. The 1999 award, was open to Irish artists who have exhibited in Ireland or elsewhere from January to December 1998 and to non-Irish artists who have exhibited in Ireland in the same period.
The award was first made in 1994. This year, for the second time, an additional non-monetary award for a sustained contribution by an artist to the visual arts in Ireland will also be made. The recepient in 1998 was Louis le Brocquy.
The jury panel for the 1999 awards is :
Brenda McParland, Head of Exhibitions, Irish Museum of Modern Art, (Chair of panel)
Andrew Nairne, Director, Dundee Contemporary Arts
Catherine de Zegher, formerly Director, Kanaal Art Foundation, Belgium, now Director of The Drawing Centre, New York
Hugh Mulholland, Director, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast
Dr Margaret Downes, Chairman, BUPA Ireland; Director, Bank of Ireland
Dr Paula Murphy, Lecturer, History of Art Department, UCD; Board Member, Irish Museum of Modern Art
For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Philomena Byrne or Rowena Neville at Tel : +353 1 612 9900,
Fax : +353 1 612 9999
18 May 1999