Thursday, October 25, 2012


I have to say, if I hadn't seen someone post a link on Facebook on Wednesday morning, I would have never known about Tentamen, but after reading the blurb on the event wall, I was immediately psyched to ditch working early that night and head over to 13 North Great Georges Street, whether anyone wanted to join me or not.

The event blurb said: Tentamen is an exhibition by seven contemporary artists in a historic Georgian town house that currently lies idle...This building, in its raw, semi-derelict condition provides a rich and distinctive backdrop for contemporary art very different from the typical ‘white cube’...The exhibition is born out of a desire to make work, to bring together artists, and to celebrate the vibrant and diverse artistic community that exists in the city today. Without knowing anything about the artists or the works that would be shown, I immediately wanted to go just to see this old abandoned house 
with art hanging in it!

Featured as the 'stand out art event of the week' in Le Cool Dublin, the art was incredible! There was a watercolour artist, David Eager Maher, who creates obscure visions of classical images, such as angels or gods with paper bags over their heads, or wearing baseball caps. I thought his style was so interesting, it reminded me of the way Banksy works in the same way, depicting classical images such as Jesus Christ holding shopping bags. Through velvet curtains off the hallway, a video piece played in a dark room, John O'Connell's eerie black and white pencil-drawn animations on a tv reminiscent of The Ring. 

My personal favourite though was by Alan Butler who, as Tentamen describes, 'makes use of appropriation and remixes cultural artifacts and icons by taking items that possess specific lineages and combines them with disparate elements in order to create works that represent other ideas and ‘truths’'. The piece can not be photographed properly, it can not be described, it needs to be seen, it was one of the most incredible works I had ever seen and everyone in the room, I'm sure, was thinking the same. Upstairs, in this run down Georgian house, with walls crumbling around us, in the darkness, a grave radiated with flowing colours.

I'm sorry, but I'm not even going to describe this work, I can't do it justice. Except that what I got from it was the idea that death is beautiful. And believe me, for a person who is constantly troubled by the concept of time passing by and never coming back, this piece really resonated with me.

Besides the art, even if you are not interested in art, or at least think you aren't (because personally, I don't believe there is a person in the world who can't find a single piece of art that they can connect with), the setting was hauntingly stunning. I underestimated just how dilapidated the building would be, when they said it was abandoned, it really did look like the setting for a Tim Burton movie. There were holes in the walls, peeling paint, exposed rafters and brickwork, definitely an eerie place to be around Halloween when it's pitch black outside and the only light in the room comes from a faint red glow in the fireplace.

If you have time, I would recommend this exhibition highly to anyone in the Dublin area. Very close to the City Centre, just off Parnell Street, this is certainly one of the better exhibitions that I have been to recently, particularly because it was just so different from all the big-name exhibitions that seem to get all the attention, but lack in any originality in the same old whitewash galleries. Sometimes, the best, and most memorable things we do are those spontaneous 'why nots' that we don't have huge expectations of. Tentamen really showed me that Dublin has so much more happening in the arts scene than I actually realise. I'm so glad I found out about the event only that morning, and that I was introduced to seven new incredibly talented artists.

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