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In pictures: Dublin Contemporary, Dublin past

Kate Horgan photographed the former UCD buildings on Earlsfort Terrace in 1999 and 2006 – and returned to capture them now as they host the Dublin Contemporary art exhibition.

DUBLIN CONTEMPORARY 2011, Ireland’s first bold attempt at joining the big hitters of the international art world, opened earlier this month in Earlsfort Terrace, the former home of University College Dublin. I was excited to visit the exhibition, but not primarily to see the curators’ selection. I wanted to see the building.

Since 2006, most of the former UCD buildings lay unused behind the National Concert Hall, which shares the site. The NCH nabbed some rooms for itself, but the rest were allowed to quietly age. Now Dublin Contemporary has stuffed many of them with art, after carrying out the most minimal of refurbishments.

Wandering around the show, I came across many reminders of the former occupants in the rooms. I had been assigned to photograph in the building twice before, in 1999 and 2006, and various trappings of academia I’d seen then still linger today, such as office signs, the occasional blackboard and a faint medicinal smell. The last time I’d photographed in these rooms was on hearing that the last two departments, medicine and engineering, were finally following all the others out to Belfield. I managed to get in to record the place for one day before it closed for good, thinking I’d never have another chance to see it.

Working my way this week through the rooms and corridors, I was struck by many similarities between the detritus of the university and the art works placed there by the show’s curators. You could say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or you could say that the gulf between art and science is not always as wide as we think it is.

In pictures: Dublin Contemporary, Dublin past
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  • 2006

    BEFORE: Chairs awaiting removal as UCD moved operations from Earlsfort Terrace to Belfield in 2006. The University had been using these buildings since 1908.
  • 2011

    I Remember (Square Dance) by Jim Lambie, 2009, on display at Dublin Contemporary 2011.
  • 1999

    Student in the library, 1999.
  • 2011

    Installation by Jota Castro in collaboration with Gordon Ryan and Noji (detail), 2011.
  • 2006

    Bottles awaiting transport to Belfield, 2006.
  • 2011

    La Maison malade 1998-2011 by Jeanne Susplugas (detail), Dublin Contemporary.
  • 2006

    Victorian rooflight in the dissection room in Earlsfort Terrace, 2006.
  • 2011

    Ark; I could sleep for a thousand years (detail) by Mark Cullen, 2011.
  • 1999

    Library index card chest, 1999.
  • 2011

    Sweet Moments (detail) by Simona Homorodean, 2011.
  • 2006

    Anatomical specimens, 2006.
  • 2011

    Returning home to the hotel by following an unknown path after a long day (detail) by Miks Mitrevics.
  • 2006

    The Kevin Barry Room, 1999.
  • 2011

    Installation by Wilfredo Prieto, 2011.
  • 2006

    Anatomical specimens, Earlsfort Terrace, 2006.
  • 2011

    Untitled (Architeuthis) (detail) by David Zink Yi, 2010, on show at Dublin Contemporary 2011.

Words and images all ©Kate Horgan 2011. See www.katehorgan.ie for more of Kate’s work.

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Kate Horgan

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