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Ireland at Venice

‘Free Market’ to represent Ireland at the Venice Biennale 2018


The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, today, 26 October 2017, announced that ‘Free Market’ will represent Ireland at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice in 2018 (the ‘Biennale’). The team of co-curators behind the selection for Ireland’s national presentation is Laurence Lord (AP+E), Orla Murphy (Custom), Jeffrey Bolhuis (AP+E), Jo Anne Butler (Culturstruction), Tara Kennedy (Culturstruction) and Miriam Delaney (DIT).

Minister Humphreys said: “The ‘Free Market’ team has proposed a very relevant exhibition on the common space of market towns in Ireland. As we know, these spaces are hugely important for rural communities in our country, and for economic and social engagement in our towns. However, this is also a theme with global resonance, and there is no doubt that the team’s research will be of interest worldwide. 2018 offers an unprecedented opportunity for contemporary Irish architecture to gain the international recognition it deserves, building on Pillar 5 of the Creative Ireland programme on unifying our global reputation.” 

Ireland’s continued presence at the prestigious Venice Biennale in 2018 is bolstered by the fact that, for the first time, the curators chosen by the Biennale for the International Architecture Exhibition areIrish architects.  Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects have been honoured with the task of curating the central exhibition and developing the theme which will inform all national exhibitions.

The national exhibition ‘Free Market’ is a direct response to the overarching theme of ‘Freespace’, selected by curators, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. It will highlight the generosity, humanity and possibility in the common spaces of Ireland’s market towns. Once the economic and social hubs of rural Ireland, small town marketplaces have undergone fundamental change in recent times. Indeed, many have seen their function as places of exchange and congregation diminished. The project proposes to reclaim these places of interaction and community. It will also build on the research of the team and others, and on the lived experience of these spaces, to re-imagine the shared urban territory of the small town marketplace.

The Venice Architecture Biennale, which will be held from 26 May to 25 November 2018, remains the most important global platform for the exhibition of architecture involving the public, members of civil society, individuals and institutions.

Ireland’s exhibition at Venice is an initiative of the Culture Ireland division of Minister Humphreys’s Department, in partnership with the Arts Council. Since 2005, Culture Ireland and the Arts Council have partnered on supporting Ireland’s representation at Venice given the ongoing platform it offers artists to reach an international audience.

Ireland’s exhibition in 2018, ‘Free Market’, will tour towns in Ireland in 2019 following its presentation in Venice.