Read Alan Owen's interview with Koyo Kouoh in the Limerick Leader
THE curator of EVA International, renowned for installing work in public spaces, is eyeing up the city as a venue for the exhibition, which opens next year.
The biennial, considered the country’s preeminent exhibition of visual art, is well know for its utilisation of quirky spaces and places – Arthur’s Quay Park and the Cleeve’s factory site among them in recent years.
Koyo Kouoh, from Cameroon, and a founding artistic director of RAW Material Company – a centre for art, knowledge and society in Dakar – paid her second research visit to Limerick recently and professed to being “impressed” by it as she plots and plans for the exhibition, the 37th edition of which opens on April 16, 2016.
“It is a lovely city,” she said. “I am quite impressed by the number of cultural institutions that exist here, given the size of the city. And it is wonderful that you can basically walk to everything, which for a biennial is ideal so that can you can walk from one side to the other without a lot of fuss, this is very important for exhibitions.”
Ms Kouoh’s exhibition has been entitled Still (the) Barbarians and will use the post-colonial condition of Ireland as a jumping off point, coinciding as it does with the centenary of the Easter Rising.
Woodrow Kernohan, director of EVA, said that the curator’s involvement would allow for a “very important reflection on that centenary, from a different perspective, from Koyo’s perspective in Cameroon and Senegal”.
“It has been fantastic to work with Koyo these last few months, we were delighted when she accepted our invitation to be the curator of EVA,” he said.
Ms Kouoh said that EVA was “this kind of insider secret of our international art world” and represented a “very special place” that was considered “absolutely avant-garde” when it was founded in the 1970s.
“It is a very important event,” she said. “Every exhibition is always an exhibition but also a challenge – especially on that scale.
“I am still in the process of putting ideas together – bringing artists together, even venues, finding and selecting the venues that will be interesting for the exhibition that I am in the process of composing,” she added, noting that the final figure of invited artists would probably be less than 2014’s tally of 56.
“Yeah, maybe a little bit less, I think, because I tend to work along the lines of less people, but have more of them – in terms of works and giving them more space,” she said.
“What I would really hope, is that the biennial activates the city, very much, in a sense that the people of Limerick take ownership of that event and that they feel reflected in the exhibition - in that they consider it their own and participate, so of course I am looking at practices that can activate that,” she added.