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The Vacuum Issue 11 spacer Issue 11
veneer / folheado - At Catalyst Arts
by Niall McCabe
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Veneer Folheado, as Tobi Maier describes it in the exhibition catalogue, attempt's 'to look under the veneer, the façade of a city, and haul its contents to the surface'. Veneer Folheado is Maier's brainchild, and the latest of Catalyst Arts exchange programmes, co-organised in conjunction with Dosensos and the Ze Dos Bois Gallery in Lisbon. The exhibition showcases the differences between two distinct Lisbon and Belfast cultures whilst highlighting the similarities born out of shared experience as European peripheral cities. The first leg of the exchange involved a week-long visit to Lisbon of various Belfast artists involved in the project to take the art of Belfast to the Portugese capital. This exhibition by Portugese artists on a visit to Belfast, together with a performance and music night at the Menagerie on November 8th, comprised the return fixture.
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Prior to this evening I had no knowledge of this programme and in essence walked into Catalyst Arts - brand new space, looks fantastic - completely ignorant of what the project was about and what to expect. The first thing to strike me when I went in was a great big colourful painting by Ivo, and Jesus was she class. The next thing I saw was a big rock that kept lighting up and disappearing. I kept coming back to this rock, fascinated, not in an egotistical identificatory narcissistic kind of way, but just because it's not often you see a big rock lighting up and getting dark again. It just sat there like the tree the Buddha sat under to gain enlightenment. The sublime being of Rock, in a glass box, animated by the lights and the strangeness of the context. Did this rock need a passport to get here; is it more than just a rock, since it's in a box with lights on it?
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In the corner of the gallery, where there were some seats, there was an edited version of Stanley Kubrick's masterwork 'The Shining' (starring Jack Nicolson). Now, I love this film, and it's great thing to have in a show because when you've had a few drinks and smokes, what better thing to watch? Even dubbed in Spanish. Why did Ruy Otero pick the scenes he did in his edit, though, and what was he getting at with those intriguing intermittent superimposed images of schematic cars and H's? Not my favourite piece but definitely worth a look.
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Another quite fascinating piece of work was Nuno da Silva's large scale projection of a road, hugged at one edge by a grand militaresque wall over which the tops of some houses peep, curving away into the distance. It had an alienating quality, and I presumed it was from Eastern Europe or somewhere uncomfortable and strange. I found out it was a photograph of a road next to where I have my studio on the Falls road. This shock of displacement now strikes me as a recurrent theme in the show; walking along the line between unfamiliar and familiar contexts and leaving you questioning first why that's there, and then why you're relatively there, and then what's where anyway.
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Other works were excellent too, and deserve more consideration than there is space for here. The overall effect of the show was to leave you feeling a bit out of place in your own environment. In a good way. Definitely the most interesting show on in Belfast at the moment, and a great show by any standards. Fair play to Catalyst Arts.
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The Catalyst Arts Website is: www.catalystarts.org
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veneer / folheado - At Catalyst Arts
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