“Deliverables is a remote collaborative exhibition project by Alex Keatinge, Bronagh Gallagher, Dáire McEvoy, Ellen O’Connor, Lorcan McGeough and Olivia Normile. Our exhibition is, among other things, the story of a postal package, an experiment in communal art making, and the celebration of a collaborative structure built over the course of one year, spanning across the Atlantic ocean“
In April of 2021, six early career artists initiated a remote collaborative exhibition project.
Our physical locations are varied; Ellen is in Montreal, Bronagh in Donegal, Lorcan in Wexford, Alex in Kildare and Dáire and Olivia are in Dublin. The project evolved through weekly virtual studio sessions on various platforms; email, discord, zoom, google drive, and experiments on mock exhibition websites. We discussed what it means to produce a collaborative exhibition, ideas of remoteness and exchange, physical versus virtual collaboration and the sticky combination of formality and creativity within group work.
We decided to make physical our virtual back and forth – and started a postal exchange. On the 10th of May an order was decided. The first artist sent a ‘whisper’ of their practice to the second artist, who responded to the work, adding and expanding to the contents, and then sent it on to the third artist, and so on. After 131 days, the package ended its travels with its return to the first artist, who unboxed it via a live stream with the entire group.
This exhibition houses 6 works, one from each artist, developed collaboratively through virtual workshops, after our package completed its journey. These new works bring forward various ideas that emerged in our postal collaboration, reflective of our conversations surrounding its outward existence. Collaborative work acquisition is examined, texture is given to our timeline and communicative tensions and questions of ownership and emotive response are connected. Virtual, real world and imagined aural landscapes are entwined and the layers of our material process are celebrated. Response and exchange form the crux of our project, the fruitful to-ing and fro-ing of our shared words, sounds and shapes.
Walter Benjamin’s 1931 essay Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting where he describes unboxing his collection of books in a single day, seems to ring true in relation to our project. Benjamin explains that a library is not just a collection of books (any more than an exhibition is just a collection of art works)—but that the sense of order is “a balancing act of extreme precariousness” that reveals itself as “a dialectical tension between the poles of order and disorder.” Benjamin then goes on to narrate aspects of this tension—names, places, memories, stories. A book is always for Benjamin more than a book; even its acquisition, as much as it’s writing, has a history.
Deliverables aims to reveal some of the complexities of the ways our collaborative exhibition came into being. How its acquisition can be reflected in new works that respond to both the contents of our postal package, and what its existence itself has unearthed. The work we have made is unique to each of us, but importantly ingrained in the work of each other and in the story of the process we have structured around us.”