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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.
Oct 6th 2011, 9:30 PM 1,957 4

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.

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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