Celebrating 20 Years in the Big Blue Building

Exactly 20 years ago the new purpose-built premises of Project Arts Centre reopened amidst huge expectations and speculations on its capacities to live up to its artist-led ethos and continue its creative path dedicated to experimentation and radical practices. There were sceptics and critical voices addressing both the context of the development of the Temple Bar Cultural Quarter and spectacle-oriented, consumer-driven cultural production which some feared Project’s subversive spirit might fall prey to after its refurbishment.

An anniversary at most times is an important opportunity to reflect, especially during such transformative moments as those we are living through right now. In the past two decades, the ‘new’ Project has been further shaped by generations of makers, versatile production models and the wider social and (culture-) political changes.

While on its way to the post-pandemic reopening, Project again faces the challenges of re-identifying and reaffirming its commitment to inclusivity, critical thinking and universal access.

The next few months will illuminate our multifaceted approach via tours into our archives, new discursive platforms and commissions.

In 2000, the inaugural exhibition “Somewhere Near Vada” that spread out over the three floors of the new (empty and still unfinished) Project building was curated by artist Jaki Irvine. The show consisted entirely of moving image works by James Coleman, Adam Chodzko, Anneke de Boer, Zoe Walker, Tacita Dean, Bas Jan Ader, Fishli & Weiss, Marcel Boodthaers, and Gary Hill and there were additional screenings of the documentary ‘Not for Sale’ by Laura Cottingham. This was the first occasion for the public to encounter the new spaces including the future office, backstage and utility spaces.

During this summer Jaki Irvine is working on a new commission, an audio piece 20 Years and 2 Metres from Vada that will take us around the building on an imaginary tour that bridges past and present through a sonic folding of time and space. Image Credit: Somewhere Near Vada, 2000, Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Installation set in the Cube for Gary Hill: Why Do Things Get In a Muddle? (Come on Petunia), video, 12 minutes, colour, sound, 1984. Photo and courtesy Jaki Irvine.

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