IN PLACE: From empty spaces to artistic pieces

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When somebody conscious and observant starts to become interested in something it can lead to a great thing. IN PLACE arose exactly that way. Young Irish woman Nichol Gray started to created a new project in January 2016. She was weary of “seeing how many vacant sites are going to absolute waste in The City Centre,” said Nichol in our interview.

Could you briefly present us your project IN PLACE? What is the goal?
IN PLACE asks artist to come into an urban space and asks them to create work and reaction to that space. We are bringing all of that work into Tara St, a formerly vacant office block, on the 29th of September, which we’ve turned into a gallery for exhibition.

The whole point of the project is improve policy change. To create policy that enlivens the arts and cultural groups to use these empty spaces and to show that they are available.

What was the first impulse to start the project?
The first basic idea which led to IN PLACE, was walking around Dublin and seeing how many vacant sites are going to absolute waste in the city centre and really just overtime developed them to 29th exhibition. And that people also don’t seem to interact with these spaces at all, or see them as real places within the city.
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Photo by Zoe Sheehy

With whom do you cooperate in this project?
The first time we spoke about it, there were three of us, a small group of like-minded people who wanted to make a statement about the potential reuse of Dublin’s vacant spaces. From that we have grown to a small community of artists and creatives all working toward the same goal, to change the way we view disused urban space. The team grew to eight people that is now the main team: myself, Zoe, Jordan, Conor, Stephen, Grace, Eric and Hazel. There are 17 people in the final exhibition and maybe 25 people in total.

And important is for sure, was Kickstarter, public-benefit company is helping us fund making the changes we need to in Tara St to hold our exhibition there between 29th of September to 4th of October.

Did you know each other before or how did you meet?
Some people I used to work with before, some people we found because they were doing similar kind of work and some people are friends. Most people from the main group know each other from college. For example myself and Zoe have known each other for a long time. Hazel I met when we worked together for a few months.

Could you tell us something about IN PLACE community?
The artists are working in lots of different disciplines. We have dancers, people working with lights, metals, installations, sculpture and lots more. It´s been really interesting to see why people have wanted to join and what work they produced because everyone is from different artistic field. And we have a contemporary dance piece as well on the 3rd of October that will be really cool.

Did you meet somebody who surprised you?
It was nothing really surprising. Just happy surprise was how many other artists were already working with this. We didn’t open call. We published the thing on social media asking people to contribute. It was so nice how many people were just individually working alone and then to bring them all together and see what they create, it is amazing.
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Photo by Jordan Quaid

And I’m really excited also about the dance performance developed by two artists based in London. They came with something very interesting. They will do the dance in the dark and the audience get the lights and they shine it on the dancers. That is really cool.

What does it bring to you? Are you glad to be the head of this project or do you feel more as one of the artists?
Obviously I really enjoyed putting them together and It was really exciting for me to see why people are involved and taking part. But also in my final year in college I wrote a thesis about policy and this generation, the way the city is changing and how people engaged with the city as it changes. So for me this is like continuing with it and that is why I am so passionate in it.

I would like to make something for the exhibition. Like an interactive thing. I would make an installation that could only grow by the people in the gallery contributing to it but I don’t have time. It turned out to be so much more time consuming than I would a thought originally. Maybe after this exhibition I can do something for that. But for now, also with a full time job, all of my time is gone.

You had already some successful events in Tara street and you are working on the exhibition. That is it about? What else can we look forward to?  
We did the Kickstarter launch and we hosted a really successful event with the girls from Eight Stories called Gals Gig for Repeal.  And the next thing we have coming up is our actual exhibition opening on Thursday 29th and run to the 3rd of October. We will be opening our exhibition with a talk series from three different parties involved in the reimagining and reuse of Dublin’s vacant spaces. And we will be closing our exhibition with a contemporary dance performance that I’ve already mentioned.
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Photo by Eric Stynes

We are thinking and talking about a few different projects that we will be involved in and we are interesting in other spaces. But it will be in Summer 2017, so there is nothing concrete yet. For now it´s hard to say how it will go.

I heard that you are also working on a book. Could you reveal something about it?
It´s a photo book and I´m working on it with two other people. Tara Street is not actually the only space that we are using. We had quite a few others but none that we can open the doors and ask people to come inside for lots of different reasons. To overcome that we have created a photo book, which is a series of photo essays, documenting people working in spaces. Because we don’t want people to only think about Tara Street but they think about IN PLACE.

The photo book is showing people all of the spaces that we use. And the artists worked in different spaces but after we can show their works just in Tara Street. We also want to show the public spaces that the artist worked in and that inspired them. It has some text in it as well. It has quite factual text about vacancy it Dublin, why it happened and what we could do. Also some poetry and interesting stories.

Could you tell us any outcome? Some last words for readers.
IN PLACE snowballed with time. It was a small idea between a really small group of people and it grew into a big thing. Especially after the Kickstarter approach because then we got anyone who is interested in the idea to come in and speak about it. It was really good. I think now, after the exhibition it will be important to take a break and look at whole event and all the different connections we made. Seeing how it could go forward.

More information on:

https://www.facebook.com/inplacedublin

https://www.kickstarter.com

Featured Image by: Hazel Shaw

About the author

Sabina Šrámková


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