Out in the Open was a three-day programme of new commissions, screenings, interventions and conversations about what it means to make art in the public domain in Belfast. As well as premiering new and existing artworks in across the city, Household invited leading local and international artists, curators, researchers and producers to present key projects and case studies that explored the transformative possibilities of public art. Through this discursive programme of events, Household explored how artistic and curatorial strategies in cities such as New York, London, and Helsinki could inform how art in public is currently considered in Northern Ireland, and how definitions of public art production can be expanded.
Artists Mitch Conlon and Martin Boyle explored the temporal and ambiguous potential of public art. Commissioned as part of Out in the Open, they produced temporary chance encounters embedded in the everyday fabric of the city and in the activities of a local community of interest.
Martin Boyle’s Semi-Permanent and Permanent-Semi – a series of sculptural installations and interventions – responded to ill-conceived planning decisions and constructions across the city centre. In north Belfast, Mitch Conlon commenced the first stage of Solitude – a long-term project in collaboration with Cliftonville FC– with a performance in the Waterworks Park.
Together with artist and curatorial collective Brown&Bri, artist Dan Shipsides and artist and writer Daniel Jewesbury, Household led a guided bus tour that provided a critical glance at the city’s recent history of art in public, charting successes and failures of public art delivery, curating, and commissioning. Following this, Household led a public symposium of talks at PLACE with contributions by Eva Neklyaeva, Director, Checkpoint Helsinki; Meredith Johnson, Curator and Director of Consulting, Creative Time, New York; and Phoebe James, Collection Coordinator, Artangel, London, followed by a public discussion.
At the Maple Leaf Social Club East Belfast, Household staged an immersive screening of Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams’ video Echt. His absurdly comical, surreal film depicts a post-apocalyptic future driven by societal greed, where kings are hoarders and status is based on conspicuous consumption. The Maple Leaf Social Club is one of the longest running social clubs in Belfast, but is earmarked for demolition and will be replaced by flats in a city dominated by half-empty overpriced new-builds.
Audiences were invited to book an appointment to view a piece of prime real estate in Belfast city centre to view London-based artist Philip Ewe video TIKET TO A SCAM ARTIST. Based on recordings with the London Metropolitan Police and a property-based scam involving a man called Tiket, the work addressed issues around authenticity, authority, urban planning, property, and languages of economy.
Out in the Open was supported by the Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, and the British Council.
Thanks to PLACE and the Maple Leaf Social Club.
Programme design by Tom Hughes. All images by Simon Mills.