There is one special week in the whole year, when my college (Crawford College of Art, Cork, Ireland – see photo below) changes beyond any recognition. Cluttered studios are being cleared, stained in all colours of a rainbow (and mud) walls are painted in a laboratory white, all sorts of artistic experiments don’t obstruct corridors any more, the body of students almost disappears to be substituted by the body of their work. This charming, quiet and intimate in a sense environment, where everyone knows everyone, becomes a public venue – the yearly exhibition of the final, 4th (BA Hons) year is being to be open. A crowd of social activists, artists, dealers, ‘civil’ art lovers, common ‘bargain hunters’, ex-students gallops through the newly arranged galleries looking for an ‘Enlightenment’ – this one or these few ‘promising’ enough to have their names remembered and their work bought.
It could be also a good researching ground for a culture/society/ideas theoretician, since these still sincere and young emerging artists echo truthfully whatever bothers, confuses or simply – turns them on in the world around.
I made my own little analysis of themes/thesis popular among my peers/older colleagues:
* Identity : loss, exploring – national (being a foreigner, being Irish), cultural (through meeting with Japan, Hindu and other civilizations), sexual (e.g. exploring ‘gay’ identity, sexual abuse, romantic relationship), personal (what is artist?, who am I specifically?) – this appears to be the most popular and art-provoking concept
* Nature – landscape (seen in more/less traditional way) – often seascapes, animals (relationship with them, appearance), cruelty (‘stronger eats weaker’ law)
* Existential/Modern world – journey, void, chaos/tension, existential/emotional pain, communication (disturbance, loss), city (-scapes, dangers), technology, plastic world (pop-culture), kitsch
* Memory – childhood, meaning of the past
Above that, there appears to be a wild and creative enjoyment of all available media – from very traditional oil/canvas and sculpture, going through acrylic/watercolour and mixed-media, then some sorts of an assemble and installation to the comparatively ‘young’ means of video art and multi-media projects. If there is a place, today, where pluralism, tolerance and freedom exist and co-exist with some interesting results – it happens within and thanks to the contemporary art. It’s here, where one can reach beyond ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘conservative’ or ‘modern’, ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’ – what really matters is the message and how successful, mature and self-aware an artist is in getting it through.
Above: Crawford students, their friends/relatives and teachers giving an applause to an awarded colleague
Above: Visitor of the Crawford Art Graduates’ Exhibition