EVA International has this week launched Never Look Back, a new initiative that revisits EVA’s 45-year history of producing contemporary art exhibitions and events in Limerick.
Originally founded by artists in 1977, EVA remains one of the longest running visual arts organisations in Ireland, working with some of the world’s most acclaimed artists and curators.
Never Look Back explores EVA’s history in Limerick through the roster of temporary sites, spaces, and venues – from offices, shops, museums, ex-industrial units, and public spaces – used for the presentation of contemporary art in successive editions. Borrowing its title from Jakob Gautel and Jason Karaindros’ street inscription presented during EVA’s 20th edition (EV+A 96, curated by Guy Tortosa), Never Look Back seeks to illuminate a rich history of contemporary art that intertwines with the urban evolutions of the city. Developed by EVA in partnership with a working group of architects and artists (Peter Carroll, Caelan Bristow and Fiona Woods) the initiative hopes to provide new access and understanding of Limerick’s unique story of contemporary art, while thinking critically about the ways that art takes place within the public realm, often through processes of regeneration and redevelopment.
The inaugural projects of Never Look Back in 2022 include a website & digital resource designed by An Endless Supply, which will go live in November, and the first of a series of curatorial commissions that respond to EVA’s history in Limerick – by RGKSKSRG (Kate Strain & Rachael Gilbourne) and Michele Horrigan (Askeaton Contemporary Art).
RGKSKSRG, will work with artist-designer Farouk Alao to create a two-part work titled, ‘It’s a poor city for art where you can’t start a quarrel’. Conceived of as an extended tablecloth, it will become both an archival object in itself and a catalyst for gathering. It will feature a printed assemblage of snapshots pulled from the EVA digital archive. Selected photographs, video stills, texts and sketches will be collaged by Farouk Alao into a mash-up of imagery along the 10-metre length of fabric. It will seat up to 45 people for a supper or a picnic, and act as a prompt for conversation, quarrelling and dreaming.
Michele Horrigan’s new curatorial commission sees elements of the EVA archive infiltrate, disrupt and alter the format of the popular board game Monopoly. Horrigan recalls the 2016 launch of a version of the game dedicated to Limerick City, where players were given the opportunity to roll dice to buy and trade local city properties and develop houses and hotels, aiming to drive their opponents into bankruptcy. In making a comment about the reduction of the city’s image to financial circulation and speculative investment rather than as a cultural entity and a place of lived life, Horrigan’s gesture sees previous EVA artworks re-imagined to replace property, exhibition memories recalled in chance and community cards, and sculptures forming new playing pieces.
EVA Director Matt Packer says: “In its 45+ years of existence, EVA offers a unique and invaluable story of contemporary art in a city that has, itself, undergone considerable change during this same period. The Never Look Back initiative not only provides an opportunity to tell this story through the sites and spaces that art has temporarily inhabited, it also provides a platform of critical and creative responses to ideas of art’s relationship to architecture, to people, and to place.”
Never Look Back is supported through the Arts Council’s Engaging with Architecture Scheme and Limerick City and County Council.