Sean Lynch – Adventure: Capital, Irish Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015

The Irish Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – presents a new artwork by Sean Lynch titled “Adventure: Capital”. Sean Lynch’s work “As a transcendental journey through history and myth, from the Gobán Saor to castaway minimalist sculpture. Lynch’s ethnographic methodology playfully challenges hegemonic structures and entwined flows of capital, migration, and forms a exceptionally unique form of complex narrative mediated through film and object.”

Adventure: Capital, combining sculptures, video, and archival elements. The work inhabits a spirit akin to the Gobán Saor, legendary stone carver and first architect of Ireland. Tracing a journey from Bronze Age myth to contemporary forms of minimalism around Ireland and Britain。

”Adventure: Capital” tells an alternative history composed of overlooked fragments, hearsay and rumour. Visitors to “Adventure: Capital” will be taken on a circular journey by the figure of a wandering stone-carver – starting at a quarry in Cornwall, travelling through the financial heart of London. The discovery of smiling Greek river gods on the back of Irish Free State banknotes initiates a journey via public art at airports and abandoned sculptures that culminates at a traffic roundabout in the southeast of Ireland.

Adventure: Capital follows this wandering figure as it encounters the hegemonic structures and entwined flows of capital, migration, and neoliberal spatiality.

Sean Lynch (born 1978) is a contemporary Irish visual artist. Lynch studied art at the Städelschule and has a master’s degree in History of Art from the University of Limerick.

Lynch represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2015. He has also held exhibitions with EVA International (2006), the Hugh Lane Gallery (2012–15), Modern Art Oxford (2014), the Royal Hibernian Academy (2016), the Charles H. Scott Gallery (2016), the Rose Art Museum (2016), and the Douglas Hyde Gallery (2017). In 2019 he created an exhibition about the Yorkshire forger Flint Jack for the Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019 art exhibition, displayed in the Henry Moore Institute.

In 2019 he was Visiting Professor of Sculpture at Carnegie Mellon School of Art, Pittsburgh.

Museum projects
Sleepwalkers (2012–15) at the Hugh Lane Gallery, curated by Michael Dempsey and Logan Sisley, was a two-year project in which six artists were invited to use the museum’s resources, reveal their artistic process, and to collaborate with each other in this “unusual experiment in exhibition production”. This process culminated in each artist developing a solo exhibition at the Hugh Lane Gallery and a publication. Lynch’s exhibition was titled A Blow-by-Blow Account of Stonecarving in Oxford and took place during July – September 2013.

The Exhibition
Adventure: Capital is the result of Lynch’s creative research, reviving the forgotten cultural and social heritages of Ireland and presenting them through a fresh anthropological lens. His artistic practice is reminiscent of the lyrical culture which runs through his homeland, marking his collection of photography, projection and sculptural installation out as a contemporary revival of the Irish Bardic tradition.

Lynch’s practice centres on a meticulously researched, archaeological approach to aspects of mostly recent cultural history. That practice embraces writing, visual and textual documentary material, original objects and the reconstruction of lost objects. It often involves an edge of institutional critique, encouraging us to question cultural and aesthetic assumptions.

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Adventure: Capital, drawing together what would ordinarily be several separate projects.

Lynch gravitates towards historical oddities and anomalies. Here the central, 17-minute title video sets out to link different narrative strands in the manner of a seanchaí relating a meandering tale. The video involves references to curing stones in Neolithic communities, the fate of a discarded public sculpture by the late John Burke, monuments and the lack of them at John Lennon and George Best airports, Greek river gods, the financial district of London and much more.

Ambitiously, the work’s abiding metaphor of flow and stasis encompasses the birth of both rivers and stone; the development of societies and cities; and the attainment and eclipse of manual skills as the free circulation of capital overwhelms the value of human labour and egalitarian aspirations. That, at least, is one plausible line of interpretation. If anything there is too much to interpret. The video, although never less than gripping, jumps restlessly from topic to topic and strains to contain them all in one package.

“Adventure: Capital” has been made possible through additional support from: Embassy of Ireland / Ambasáid na hÉireann; Limerick City Gallery of Art; Limerick Institute of Technology, Limerick School of Art and Design; EVA International – Ireland’s Biennial; The Model, Sligo; Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast; Maurice Ward Art Handling; Limerick City and County Council Arts Office; Limerick National City of Culture 2014; Wexford County Council; British Council Northern Ireland; Ronchini Gallery, London; ArtReview; Peroni; Askeaton Contemporary Arts; Irish Wire Products.

Subsequent to its presentation at La Biennale di Venezia, “Adventure: Capital” will tour throughout Ireland during 2016.

Venice Biennale 2015
The 2015 Art Biennale closes a sort of trilogy that began with the exhibition curated by Bice Curiger in 2011, Illuminations, and continued with the Encyclopedic Palace of Massimiliano Gioni (2013). With All The World’s Futures, La Biennale continues its research on useful references for making aesthetic judgments on contemporary art, a “critical” issue after the end of the avant-garde and “non-art” art.

Through the exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor, La Biennale returns to observe the relationship between art and the development of human, social and political reality, in the pressing of external forces and phenomena: the ways in which, that is, the tensions of the external world solicit the sensitivities, the vital and expressive energies of the artists, their desires, the motions of the soul (their inner song ).

La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895. Paolo Baratta has been its President since 2008, and before that from 1998 to 2001. La Biennale, who stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, organizes exhibitions, festivals and researches in all its specific sectors: Arts (1895), Architecture (1980), Cinema (1932), Dance (1999), Music (1930), and Theatre (1934). Its activities are documented at the Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) that recently has been completely renovated.

The relationship with the local community has been strengthened through Educational activities and guided visits, with the participation of a growing number of schools from the Veneto region and beyond. This spreads the creativity on the new generation (3,000 teachers and 30,000 pupils involved in 2014). These activities have been supported by the Venice Chamber of Commerce. A cooperation with Universities and research institutes making special tours and stays at the exhibitions has also been established. In the three years from 2012-2014, 227 universities (79 Italian and 148 international) have joined the Biennale Sessions project.

In all sectors there have been more research and production opportunities addressed to the younger generation of artists, directly in contact with renowned teachers; this has become more systematic and continuous through the international project Biennale College, now running in the Dance, Theatre, Music, and Cinema sections.