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Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani

Internationally respected, Berlin based artists Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani exhibited at MART Gallery, with support from the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Goethe Institut, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen  and German Embassy. 

Including an introductory talk and participatory workshop with the artists, and seminars in association with the National College of Art and Design and the Institute of Art Design and Technology Dun Laoghaire. 

Curated by Barry Kehoe (IMMA)

October 2014 


This exhibition curated by Barry Kehoe in the MART Gallery brings the work of Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani to Dublin for the first time. The two Berlin based artists have been working together since the early 1990s documenting modern ruins, forgotten sites that remain as traces refusing to disappear and communities that resist the pressures of being overpowered by problematic urban development and catastrophe. They also explore the influence of cinematic memory on collective memory in locations where, as film locations in cinematic narratives, the cinematic memory has superseded local histories and narratives. Their art works are part of a wider tradition in socially engaged art practice that is both an effective and proactive form of resistance to tendencies of forgetting and amnesia embedded in urban cultural practices, architectural development and the economic structures of the contemporary world.

Though they are not psycho-geographers per say, they share much in common with modes of subversive resistance to the changing urban environment found in Baudelaire’s flâneur, Guy Debord’s psycho-geographer, and Freud’s ideas of the uncanny. Their explorations of various sites around the world highlight discrepancies between official perspectives, national histories, urban policy and city planning that don’t recognise or may even be trying to consign to oblivion local knowledge, hidden histories and the lived experiences of counter cultures. Acting as detectives and sometimes almost in the role of political or social activist they uncover “blind spots” in the narratives of site specific histories, always conscientious of their position as artist in any given location or community where they find inspiration for their work.

From 2007 to 2010 the artists were Associate Professors at the School of Art and Design in Sapporo City University in Japan. During this time they continued making works based on their understanding of “blind spots.” These included the two works selected for the current exhibition: Spelling Dystopia (HD,16:9, 2 channel video installation, colour, stereo, 17:25 min. 2008/9) and Narita Field Trip, (HD, colour, stereo, 30 min. 2010).

Narita Field Trip looks at how two Tokyo teenagers deal with the experience of encountering a farming community that is fighting against the expansion of Narita airport, a development that threatens to swallow and destroy their farms, homes, livelihood and community.

Spelling Dystopia, is a film that explores a community’s memory of the abandoned coal mining centre, Hashima Island, once the most densely populated place on earth, now known only as the backdrop for the teen horror movie Battle Royale (2000) and as a home for the Bond villain in Skyfall (2012).

More recently the artists returned to Japan to make Spirits Closing Their Eyes, (2012) and I Live in Fear – After March 11 (2013) the latter of which was shown in the IFI by the Experimental Film Club as part of the current exhibition programme. These most recent works “focus on the current physical and psychological state of emergency which oscillates between actual threat and subtle changes in everyday habits,” since the catastrophe of the Fukushima Nuclear disaster.

These art works that the artists have made in Japan also touch on the tensions that arise between the forces of globalisation and specific local narratives.  These tensions have implications for all citizens of the world. The works that have grown from specific sites, events and communities can also have universal consequences that resonate and can affect the daily lives of people in distant and far off places on the other side of the planet.

At the former West Congress in 2013 where both Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani were participating artists one of the main public lectures was given by Homi Bhabha, Director of the Humanities Centre at Harvard University. He delivered a keynote lecture that began with the idea of the cosmopolitan (the citizen of the world) and he spoke of Kant’s idea of hospitality and the ethics surrounding how we should behave to strangers.  He described the way in which, as human beings, we share the planet and because we live on a globe if we take a position where we are moving away from a person we are in fact also moving towards them in the opposite direction.

This anecdote highlights something of the reality of being part of this world and the problematic position of avoidance or disregard toward any of our neighbours local or global.  It is a way of illustrating that no matter how far we feel removed from many of the others with whom we share the planet we are ultimately and profoundly connected to one another.

Artists:                   Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani

Curator                  Barry Kehoe

Assist. Curator:    Katharine Maurer

Producers:           Ciara Scanlan and Matthew Nevin

Technician:         Barry Lynch

Graphic Design:     Andrew Behan

AV:                             Eidotech

Sponsors:             MART, The Arts Council, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, The Goethe Institut Dublin, IADT Dunlaoghaire, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin City Council, IFI, Experimental Film Club, NCAD.

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MART Gallery, Rathmines

21 -21 August 2014


Landmarks can be created in the urban environment through the work of the street artist. In a time where little investment is made into the aesthetic life of the city, artists are taking matters into there own hands through commissioned and non-commissioned works in the public sphere. Their art is breathing life into the public space.

The ‘Landmarked’ exhibition will bring some of the best elements of such works under the roof of the iconic fire station in Rathmines – a landmark in itself. The interior walls of the gallery will be covered from top to bottom with the work, making for an immersive experience.

While vibrant and compelling, the exhibition will also be inclusive, reaching out to the members of the street art scene and to the general public, the people of Dublin. A rich mix of music and workshop events will encourage all to engage with the ideas behind the show. A mini jam will also take place during the run of the exhibition, when artists will be invited to paint the back area of the gallery to the sound of live DJs’ music.


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Imitator – Kyoto Art Centre

2 – 10 August 2014

Ciara Scanlan, Matthew Nevin, Trish McAdam, Andrew Carson and Róisín O

Kyoto Art Centre, Japan 


‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’

Ciara Scanlan & Matthew Nevin have collaborated with 3 Irish Artists, to produce a performative video installation to be exhibited in Kyoto Arts Centre. The narcissism of modern culture; selfies, minor feats of ‘fame’ and our obsession with self indulgent self promotion via social media has changed how we live day to day. The project involves artists Ciara Scanlan & Matthew Nevin, [ curators of MART www.mart.ie] working alongside Trish McAdam a filmmaker and Artist, Andrew Carson a Visual Artist and Róisín O a singer to utilize their talents from their own disciplines to analyse the process of ‘imitation’. Visitors and participants will be invited to copy and create their own versions of the videos and share on social media creating a viral thread of imitators.

With thanks to Karl Martini the videographer for Andrew Carson and Róisín O videos.

Imitator Japanese Poster-revised-01

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190a Retelling

‘190 A Retelling’  – Visual Art Exhibition

The MART Gallery, 190a Rathmines Road Lower, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

MART invited the local public, former residents of the building and The Dublin Fire Brigade to attend and tell a story or two about “190a”, and visit the new incarnation as a Gallery and meet the new residents, Artists. 


‘The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”  Gaston Gachelard – The poetics of space.

MART curators Matthew Nevin & Ciara Scanlan have invited 5 artists to make site-specific works around the newly renovated 150 year old fire station in Rathimnes. Through the re-appropriation of old forgotten artefacts and found objects of the building a visual conversation will tell the story of the generations of uses and lives that passed through. The building itself has morphed through many forms: a library, a home, storehouse, fire station, The Civil Defence, pigeon layer and finally The MART Gallery and Studios. The exhibition will host interactive and temporal sculptures, sound recordings and photography based on the history of the building itself and the power of place to hold memory and drive the imagination.

Artists: Sinead Bligh, Gerard Erraught, Jessica Kelly, Ciara Scanlan, Emily O’Callaghan, Jim O’Callaghan, Trish McAdam.


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Curb Your Carrie Bradshawism

The Premiere Exhibition at The MART Gallery.

September 2013


Alison Cronin, Amy Walsh, Andrew Carson, Andrew Healy, Anne O’Byrne, Aoife Giles, Camilla Fanning, Claire Nash, Cliona Harmey, Debbie Jenkinson, Eleanor Lawler, Emily Boylan, Gearoid O’Dea, Ida Mitrani, James L Hayes, Jessica Conway, Karen Tierney, Katherine Nolan, Michelle Hall, Moya Clarken, Niamh Hannaford, Olive Barrett, Orla Gilheany, Rebecca McGetrick, Seamus Bradley, Stephanie Golden, Terence Erraught.

Curated by Ciara Scanlan & Matthew Nevin.

THE MART, a new visual arts depot located in the iconic old fire station in Rathmines, Dublin, has been reappropriated to house multifarious elements, which include several galleries, an art shop, a workshop space and studios. MART seeks to position itself as a mediator of social and cultural transformation, through engagement with the arts. This dynamic venture will provide an accessible location and platform to develop and promote Irish and International contemporary visual art, one of the key principles fostered by MART.

This exhibition highlights the cycle of creativity beyond the confines of the gallery. Through a Fund-it campaign to raise resources for MART’s new premises, all contributors who invested in the initiative were invited to participate in the Curb your Carrie Bradshawism exhibition, in recognition of their support. This is a strong gesture and reflective of the inclusive nature of MART’s modus operandi. The realisation of this exhibition in this rejuvenated space sees the outcome of an exciting venture come full circle, culminating in the official launch of this new venue.

MART’s egalitarian ethos is echoed in the inaugural exhibition Curb your Carrie Bradshawism, as each participating artist will be given an identical challenge – to work within the constraints of a cardboard box, in any visual arts medium. As our culture is evolving into a society full of restrictions and limitations, artist’s struggle to find financial resources and opportunities to showcase their voice. The format of the exhibition and its established restrictions will generate an equal standing for each of the artist’s involved, without prejudice or favouritism.

The title of the exhibition Curb your Carrie Bradshawism, weighs heavily on contemporary material and cultural ideology. The all-pervading suffix, ‘ism’ has become commonplace and part of visual art pop culture. It enables the user to attain a certain gravity, or level of authenticity in their distinctive practice, philosophy or artistic movement in contemporary art. By initiating a response to the fad of ‘ism’, another layer is added to the prerequisite conditions imposed on the artist’s.

Impossible to ignore, Carrie Bradshaw becomes a focal point of the exhibitions title. Her character from Sex and the City, has become symbolic of consumerism, excess and materialism. Her happiness appears to be counted in material goods such as shoes, bags and couture clothes, in strict contrast to values and quality of life, and acts as an interesting foil to the realities of the artistic lifestyle. How would she survive the recession or economic hardship?

According to the philosopher Jacques Lacan, how somebody reads and interprets an artwork is determined in large by their subject position, as they inevitably project their own views on an object. To mirror this, another perspective worth considering is Carrie Bradshaw’s career as a journalist. Her character is established as possessor of ‘the gaze’, whose position involves objectifying situations to her individual perspective – highlighting the rupture between sight and gaze. A similar scrutiny will be undertaken by each of the artist’s involved in the exhibition, as they will be bringing their unique approach and individual interpretation to the fore as they create specific pieces. Despite the fact that the artist’s all have a common starting point, the final selection of artworks on display will differ significantly, both in composition and in their conceptual and philosophical deliberations – in stark contrast to the lite existential questions à la Carrie Bradshaw.

The use of cardboard boxes for each artwork is a confident, if unconventional method to provide unbiased, equal footing to every artist in the show. Yet, could it be argued that this scenario becomes symbolic of being somehow boxed-in? Or categorising the artist’s and their work – putting them into boxes, in a manner of speaking. The paradox of this construct is highlighted in the duality encapsulated by a seemingly neutral perspective, that when analysed may in fact be interpreted as including a somewhat judgemental element. These shifting concerns that are at play throughout the exhibition; the concept, the title, the symbolism and the display format, all combine to constantly challenge the perspectives of both artist and audience, as these fluctuating layers offer room for evolving interpretation.

Text by Rowan Sexton


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The Non Zero Sum Art Games

Curated by Matthew Nevin & Ciara Scanlan

Co-curated with Katherine Nolan (Portugal) & Aoife Giles (Dublin)

The Non Zero-Sum Art Games was part of Culture Ireland’s ‘Culture Connects International Programme’, marking Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Produced by MART and curated by Matthew Nevin & Ciara Scanlan.

The Non Zero Sum Art Games opened concurrently on March 7th with a live video link between three venues in three separate countries.

A Non Zero Sum Game is in game theory a situation where one decision maker’s gain (or loss) does not necessarily result in the other decision makers’ loss (or gain) – a win-win game. They generally have both competitive and cooperative elements. Players engaged have some complementary interests and some interests that are completely opposed.

‘The Non Zero-Sum Art Games’ was a program of exhibitions and performances focusing on the power that Art and people have to transform the socio/political psyche of the public in three European cities; Dublin, Lisbon & Athens all whom have recently hit by financial crisis.

Two groups of five Irish Artists travelled to both Athens & Lisbon to work under rules, financial and time restrictions imposed by the curators.

Rules include:

  • Artists are playing against each other to win a game with no results.
  • Artists may not bring any materials or equipment with the exception of 1 Mobile Phone & one Laptop
  • Artists will be given €100 to source materials / equipment in the host country.
  • Artists must work with at least one local artist / resident.
  • Artists will showcase their work on 7 March.
  • All artworks will be destroyed when show is complete.

Dublin: Co-curated by Aoife Giles.

To coincide with MART’s Lisbon & Athens Exhibitions, MART hosted 2 Portuguese and 2 Greek artists in Unit 4 Gallery.

Exhibition Featuring: George Gyzis, Orlando Franco, São Trindade, Maria Tzanakou.


Five Irish artists land in Athens and had five days to create a piece of installation or sculpture artwork working under a set of Rules and Regulations, opened as an exhibition on 7 March.

Athens – metamatic:taf Exhibition Featured: Andrew CarsonAdam GibneySamantha McGahonMatthew NevinCiara Scanlan.

Also featuring collaborations with Greek Artists : Stefanos Athanatos, Panos Profitis, Kyrgiakos Tsiftsopoulos, George Gyzis, Maria Tzanakou, Christos Papasotiriou.

Lisbon – Co-curated with Katherine Nolan

The Performance event consisted of 5 performance artists arriving in Portugal on Sunday 3 March, working in Plataforma Revolver from 4-7 March devising 5 performances, they performed at an opening event on 7 March.

Lisbon – Plataforma Revólver. Event Featured: Vanessa DawsFrancis FayEleanor LawlerKatherine Nolan, Aine Phillips.

Also featured collaborations with Lisbon Artists; Rui Mourao, Nuno Lacerda, Pedro Azevedo, Marias Teixeria, and Sara Maia.


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MART @ Unit 4

MART hosted a series of artists and curators at Unit 4 on James Joyce St, Dublin from Wednesday 6 February 2013 – Friday 3 May 2013



Terence Erraught,  Joan Healy and Catherine Barragy

Iterative is a project by Catherine Barragry, Terence Erraught and Joan Healy. Using the space as territory, the three artists present a continuously shifting array of sculptural, media and performative works. Each artist assumes the role of author for one week while the other two artists respond to their process. By the fourth week clear authorship breaks down as the three artists attempt a mash-up of material and content; creating alternative forms by using each other’s practices as raw material. The artists identify risk-taking as a catalyst in this process.

The Non Zero Sum Art Games 

7 – 23 March

George Gyzis, Orlando Franco, São Trindade, Maria Tzanakou

To coincide with MART’s Lisbon & Athens Exhibitions we will be hosting a portugese and greek artist [George Gyzis, Orlando Franco, São Trindade, Maria Tzanakou] in Unit 4 as part of Culture Ireland’s “Culture Connects International Programme” marking Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.


 25 April  – 1 May

Tristan Hutchinson

Terroir is an intended look at the transformation of community as reflected by the marks and traces upon the land that remain after various processes of industry and migration. Whilst geographically-rooted in specific landscapes, an intended ambiguity running through the work feeds into notions of fictive anonymity, exploring multi-locality, personal and shared experiences, and folkloristic interpretations of ‘landscape’.

Just In Time

9 – 25 May

Curated by Aoife Flynn

Featuring Adam Gibney, Richard Forest, Gerry Erraught

“The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.” Walter Benjamin Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time. The term is divided into two categories: obsolescence of desirability vs. obsolescence of function. This kind of planning has its origins in ‘Just-in-time’ production, where stream-lined methods of production and communication meant manufacturing changes could be made on the fly and products could be made and adjusted when they were needed. Lower manufacturing costs meant products could be sold cheaper and to a wider customer base thus increasing competition. In turn, to ensure that customers needed to continue buying their product, manufacturers began to introduce variations in their products and construct them with in-built life spans. This project will gather together three artists whose work is centred around the use of technology, its possibilities and problems. Turning their enquiries towards outdated, obsolete technologies they will endeavour to create something new and potentially useful out of that which is doomed to become waste. Through this process we will seek to question our society’s perpetual consumption and propose alternatives uses for the spiraling series of technological advances in our contemporary existence.


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