EXPERIMENTAL DECADE; JAMES MERRIGAN REFLECTS ON 10 YEARS OF THE LAB, DUBLIN
It is all the more remarkable then that an experimental project like The LAB should find the oxygen to survive in the city, and from the city.
Mick Wilson, The LAB 2006 – 2008
Dublin’s art scene was greatly affected by the seesaw growth and recession of the Irish economy in the last decade. On the one hand artists had to deal with the inflated value of ‘space’ during the housing bubble, and then funding cuts during the economic recession on the other. The aspirations of establishing a space, an art publication or a career as an artist seemed fugitive in an environment that was in continual economic flux. No one was safe, especially the establishment: Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (TBG+S) was inactive during the height of the summer in 2010, and Circa Art Magazine ceased production in 2011 due to successive funding cuts.
Somehow, innovative and brave artists and curators, with the support of Dublin City Council Arts Office and the Arts Council of Ireland, formed collectives and shared resources, managing to transform the remaining nooks and crannies of the property market into alternative art spaces. Alongside the artist-run studio / gallery model, some enigmatic and independent art spaces like Pallas Projects, FOUR and thisisnotashop supplied further alternative spaces and hope for artists.
In this 10-year period the Dublin art scene intensified and expanded. Emergent alternative and commercial spaces established themselves within the psyche of the local art community, and we also saw the development of ‘the curator’ and a growing intellectualism promoted by such academic arts research programmes as MAVIS (IADT), Art in the Contemporary World (NCAD) and PhD arts research through GradCAM. (more…)