Launched as part of our Autumn Preview on 1 August 2023, this installation features a site-specific landscape painting, inside a hanging tray, slicing through the width of Kunstverein Aughrim. It is both a screen, protecting an inner world, and a façade, projecting information. It is a topological enquiry and a pictorial representation of a multi-dimensional terrain. It sits aside a major new body of work by the artist that is on view at VISUAL Carlow until January 2024. What we see at Kunstverein Aughrim is a reflection of Shiel’s working processes and a portal into the sublime and slippery world that her work conjures.
Sitting within the bureau, a series of objects act like orientation cues in Shiel’s gameplan. These objects, retrieved, prepared and arranged performatively, are posed to activate the surface. They are the tangible physical result of a series of transformational image-making exercises, performed by actors at selected points on a map. They have been created using observational, alchemical and co-operative actions; burial and excavation, corraling, controlling, planting, picking, drawing, burning and sawing. Disruptive agents like the weather, crumbling walkways, tricks of the eye and ear, sleights of hand, and a gestural chants - all influenced their creation. Throughout her practice Shiel is interested in questions of agency and autonomy. She borrows from the fields of gaming, theatre-making, fiction and non-fiction writing, all narrative forms that show us how humans are both magical and powerless. Throughout this body of work, interactions between the artist and the landscape function as a method to solve artistic problems, in which the artist questions her own agency within the world, and how especially human it is to bet everything on hopeful acts.
Supernatural Bureau by Sonia Shiel was on view throughout the Autumn, from 1 August 2023 to 1 December 2023. The exhibition was open by appointment from 10am-5pm, Thursday-Sunday.
Kunstverein Aughrim’s ongoing collaboration with Sonia Shiel is made possible with the support of the Arts Council.