Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 8:11 PM

HOME

GUEST BLOG

EDUCATION

VIDEO

FLASH POINTS: What is the value of art?

new artists, new films

search

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan
May 29th, 2009 by Georgia Kotretsos

Tweet

0

subscribe
Art21 Blog feed Video feed Education feed Guest Blog feed

New films in New York Close Up premiering throughout 2012

flash points

communicate

recent comments
How are stories and art intertwined?
Seoidín O'Sullivan standing in her bedroom with work space on the right

Agnieszka in Dissecting the Social Self: A [Wo]Man, an Animal, and an Ambiguous “I.” : Interesting... dennis in When Works of Literature Make The Leap: Joe, looking at Glenn Ligon this summer inspired me to give my ap... Kyle in Videogame Appropriation in Contemporary Art: Grand Theft Auto (GTA): I love the amount of work Rockstar puts... Docsson in The Art + Brain Files: These sound, to me at least, the same comments that were (and for some continue to... Birgitte Lamb in More Moments, More Dialogue: Hi Joe. This sounds very interesting and is clearly a subject of...

Seoidín O’Sullivan is an artist based in Dublin, Ireland. Her art practice investigates sociopolitical and ecological narratives, which she represents in critically engaged and poetic ways. Working within a group—an art community or with a fellow artist—is an essential parameter of Seoidín’s work. Her creative manifestations are tangible and serve as the departure point for our conversation. Seoidín’s energy is invested in sustaining her collaborations and projects by sharing her views, beliefs, and ideals of a creative society with an extensive community. It gives me great pleasure to talk to Seoidín about her practice, as I have been following her work for a decade now. Seoidín opened her home to me and generously let me into her world. Read on and acquaint yourselves with this artist. Georgia Kotretsos: What’s the main focus of your work? Seoidín O’Sullivan: I am interested in collective dreaming and believing and issues of land ownership; collective organizing and the commons emerge. I am interested in grassroots forms of organizing, in communities feeling empowered and taking ownership and responsibility in and for their localities. I wanted to see these ideas in practice rather than as mere theory, so I created The Community Garden project. I felt so much relational art that I saw and read about was tokenistic. It seemed to coopt ideas from grassroots collectives and activism—take a photograph of this community and move on. I am interested in sustainability, so my projects are long-term and often blur the line between art and activism. Having grown up in Zambia and South Africa, I want to make a connection between a wider dialogue of North and South. Art provides a perfect space to bring these questions and projects together in creative ways. I hope through my practice to challenge the art world and market, and find and create more sustainable ways that we artists can operate. I think with the current economic collapse we are all hungry for ideas. Creative alternatives can begin to emerge. GK: May you please walk me through your current studio set-up? SO’S: I have a home studio and I work in other spaces during residency awards. I use a room that operates as an office, workspace, and guest bedroom. It’s where I answer emails, plan projects, apply for funding, and apply for studio residencies. The making of artworks mostly happens outside of this space. I would like to have a long-term studio space in Dublin but simply cannot afford one right now. GK: How about your fellow Irish artists, how do they sustain a studio practice? SO’S: A decent-size studio—which is about 6m squared!—costs €240 ($340) in Dublin. Many artists share spaces to half the cost of rent and then allocate days of usage. Or they are on unemployment assistance, which covers the basic cost of rent and living, and then they work part time to subsidize their studios. They have teaching jobs if they are lucky; otherwise waitressing and retail. Artists are creative people. They figure things out, but I’d say most of us are living precariously from month to month. GK: Artists are indeed creative people, yet are often left to pave their own way by exclusively

featured video

David Altmejd: "Assistants"

teaching with contemporary art

In and out of the classroom

pages
About Art21 About the Art21 Blog Writers and Contributors

blogger-in-residence

newsletter
Sign up

art21 online
Michael Neault, Content and Media Producer, Portland, OR on Art21.org on Blip.tv on Del.icio.us on Facebook on Flickr on iTunes on PBS on Twitter on YouTube

categories
> Columns (1284) > 5 Questions for Contemporary Practice (21) > Alchemy of Inspiration (5) > Art 2.1: Creating on the Social Web (16) > Bedfellows: Art and Visual Culture (15) > BOMB in the Building (19) > Bound: The Printed Object in

blogroll
16 Miles of String 2 Buildings 1 Blog Art Fag City

http://blog.art21.org/2009/05/29/inside-the-artists-studio-seoidin-osullivan/

Page 1 of 6

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan | Art21 Blog
relying on that very quality. Is there a helping hand on the horizon besides the artist’s own? SO’S: There are a few avenues that Irish contemporary artists go down in order to support a full-time practice. The first one is to get a gallery to take an interest in their work, thereby helping to build up their reputation. The gallery takes on the role of finding shows and increasing the commercial value of the artists’ works. The second route is to develop a more project-based practice where you are supported through public art commissions. The Irish Arts Council, which is state-funded, is very generous in its support of artists. It runs twice-yearly bursary awards and also has a new work award and once-off award scheme. The awards are pretty competitive, as you can imagine, but once received, they do buy time to concentrate on a full-time practice for a few months. There are also some subsidized studios, which are equally competitive. In order to get them, you have to develop a good working practice, be visible, and pretty proficient in putting budgets and proposals together. It becomes a lot like running your own business; artists become technocrats and practice makes it easier. When it comes to private funding, I think most artists look for this if they want to put on a show and need extra support. I have not heard of wealthy patrons supporting individual artists in Dublin, but I should get on Bono about that (laughs). Artists also receive tax exemption, which was recently capped for top earners. (You can ask Bono about that too; U2 moved their bank account to the Netherlands in 2006.) So there are opportunities for artists to get by and concentrate on their practice here in Ireland and be able to pay rent for a while. Then it’s back to proposals and applications. Very few artists survive off their art practice alone. GK: Does your studio shape your projects in any way? Context (6) > Cairo in Context: Art and Change in the Middle East (4) > Calling from Canada (15) > Center Field | Art in the Middle with Bad at Sports. (58) > Future Metaphors (3) > Gastro-Vision (37) > GIF(t) Basket (8) > Gimme Shelter: Performance Now (18) > Ink: Notes on the Contemporary Print (29) > Inside the Artist's Studio (40) > Inspired Reading (12) > Letter from London (92) > Lives and Works in Berlin (28) > Looking at Los Angeles (81) > New Kids on the Block (4) > No Preservatives: Conversations about Conservation (37) > On Location: Inside Art Documentary Production (9) > On View Now (32) > Open Enrollment (145) > Praxis Makes Perfect (35) > Problematic: Answering Questions with Questions (2) > Revolution 2.1 (3) > Teaching with Contemporary
Domestic bliss: the view outside the bedroom/studio

1/13/13 8:11 PM

Art Whirled Artlog ArtsBeat Bad at Sports BAM 150 BOMBlog C-Monster Creative Capital – The Lab Culture Monster Ed Winkleman Eyeteeth Henry Art Gallery: Hankblog Hrag Vartanian Hyperallergic IMA Blog LACMA: Unframed Look Into My Owl Mattress Factory Modern Art Notes MoMA: Inside/Out New Curator OC Art Blog PBS NewsHour: Art Beat SFMOMA: Open Space The Artblog The Ben Street The Daily Beast The Gray Area (Grey Art Gallery, NYU) The Huffington Post Two Coats of Paint updownacross VernissageTV Walker Art Center

Art (268) > The Weekly Roundup (198) > Transmission (5) > Turkish and Other Delights (11) > What's Cookin': The Art21ndex (34) > Word is a Virus (7) Week in Review (1) > Flash Points: (421) Compassion: Do artists have a social responsibility? (29) Fantasy: Does art expand our ability to imagine? (26) How are stories and art intertwined? (12) How can art effect political change? (74) How do we experience art? (73) How does art respond to and redefine the natural world? (40) How is art influenced? (35) Must art be ethical? (40) Systems: Can art transcend paradigms? (32) The New Culture Wars: What's at Stake? (9) Transformation: How does art adapt and change over time? (26)

SO’S: Working from home has pushed my practice in new and different directions. In 2004, I was living in a house that had a storefront space I used as a studio. I had been living in Dublin for 2 years, having moved from South Africa, and knew very few visual artists; most of my friends were musicians. I decided to hold a ‘Meet and Dine’ project in the space so that I could meet and interact with artists but also connect my interests in art and activism: “For the month of April I am inviting creative groups, be they reading groups, event organizers, activists, musicians, gardeners, cooks, or art groups, to make use of a storefront space to have a dinner meeting. Please bring one vegetable and one piece of fruit. Soup and juice will be provided.” I used the fruit and vegetables brought by one group to feed the next group. In the end, it was mostly activists and community groups that responded. There was one artist reading group. It was good to get a taste of what was happening in the city and to have, for example, a new immigrant community group, feed a group wanting to set up a social centre, feed a community garden group, feed an art reading group. GK: You’re doing significantly well for yourself, whether you work from home or some ideal studio setting. Does your art production differ in any way when working from an organized studio? SO’S: Well, I’ve recently managed to get funding and have been awarded studio residencies so I have been able to support and concentrate on my projects and practice. TRESPASS is a project where my studio/research space has been wasteland spaces in Dublin. Irish artist Aoife Desmond and I began the project in 2005. It started with trespassing in the spaces and initially doing some drawing and photo-based work at the sites. This work emerged from us witnessing the rapid disappearance of these “green” spaces during Dublin’s economic boom. As these spaces disappeared, rents and studio spaces in Dublin went up (laughs). There is a funny correlation between all of this. We were awarded an Arts Council new work award in 2007. We have concentrated on two spaces outside of the Irish Museum of Modern Art over the last two years, making film, research, and photographic-based works, which we recently exhibited at The LAB.

archives
January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010

http://blog.art21.org/2009/05/29/inside-the-artists-studio-seoidin-osullivan/

Page 2 of 6

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 8:11 PM

What influences art? (47) What is the value of art? (83) What's so shocking about contemporary art? (40) > Video: (528) Classroom (15) Conversation (8) Excerpt (35) Exclusive (186) New York Close Up (62) Reblog (198) Spoof (6)
"TRESPASS," 2007. The hoarding surrounding a derelict site beside the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007

Uncut (4) Access '12 (1) Art21 Access '09 (25) Art21 Artists: (1390) Ai Weiwei (19) Alejandro Almanza Pereda (1) Alfredo Jaar (59) Allan McCollum (40) Allora & Calzadilla (68) An-My Lê (30) Andrea Zittel (49) Ann Hamilton (47) Arturo Herrera (39) assume vivid astro focus (5) Barbara Kruger (65) Barry McGee (75) Beryl Korot (10) Bruce Nauman (82) Cai Guo-Qiang (68) Cao Fei (47) Carrie Mae Weems (79) Catherine Opie (7) Catherine Sullivan (26) Charles Atlas (28) Cindy Sherman (61) Collier Schorr (35) David Altmejd (4) David Brooks (3) Diana Al-Hadid (2) Do-Ho Suh (43) Doris Salcedo (30) El Anatsui (17) Eleanor Antin (40) Elizabeth Murray (17) Ellen Gallagher (26) Erin Shirreff (1) Florian Maier-Aichen (19) Fred Wilson (35) Gabriel Orozco (55) Glenn Ligon (15) Hiroshi Sugimoto (54) Hubbard & Birchler (8) Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (25) Ida Applebroog (27) James Turrell (48) Janine Antoni (43) Jeff Koons (89) Jenny Holzer (99) Jessica Stockholder (37) John Baldessari (79) John Feodorov (4) Josephine Halvorson (2)

In 2007, I was awarded Studio 468 in Dublin. This studio is situated in a community centre in one of Dublin’s more disadvantaged areas, Rialto. Part of the residency was to work with a community group for 6 hours a week. I found it strange having a studio, an individual quiet space in a community centre while all the other spaces were communal and shared. I was doing my Masters at the time and researching the cultural challenge that environmental sustainability posed to art. I had been involved in a squatted community garden that had recently been evicted. I decided that it would be great to set up a community garden that linked directly to the community centre. So I began to plant seeds in my studio, which had a large glass front. It was like a greenhouse and incubation space for the seeds and the project. I called a meeting in the studio and found an abandoned green space and got permission to use it for free. The site had planning permission on it for apartment blocks, which was not due to be built for another 2 years. So we have been able to use it in the meantime. Rent and studio spaces in Dublin skyrocketed in the last 10 years with the development boom and Celtic Tiger economy. Now with the economic recession, the chances are that we may have the site for a lot longer. Next year I would like to curate a series of projects by artists responding to the garden. Community gardens are radical spaces. They are collectively organized and run; we grow our own food and they are a place of trust where tasks, produce, and materials are collectively owned and shared.

support art21
Your tax-deductible donation provides crucial support for Art21 projects.

admin
Admin access

"Collective Dreaming," photo lightbox, 2007. Part of the "Not There Here" installation. Seoidín in the site that became the community garden.

These wasteland spaces will probably now reemerge and artist studio spaces will get cheaper, as there are so many empty apartment blocks in Dublin and the unsustainable building trade has gone bankrupt. TRESPASS did a residency in 2008 as part of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s project, the land’s One Year Project 2. It was good to go and experience this famous relational work firsthand and we responded with Relocated Jungle and a book that maps the wasteland sites around the land’s office in central Chaing Mai.

http://blog.art21.org/2009/05/29/inside-the-artists-studio-seoidin-osullivan/

Page 3 of 6

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan | Art21 Blog
"Relocated Jungle," the land, Thailand. A photograph of a wasteland site in Chiang Mai city was put up in a structure on the land.

1/13/13 8:11 PM

Josiah McElheny (44) Judy Pfaff (40) Julie Mehretu (60) Kalup Linzy (20) Kara Walker (86) Keltie Ferris (10) Kerry James Marshall (47) Kiki Smith (85) Kimsooja (20) Krzysztof Wodiczko (37) Lari Pittman (21) LaToya Ruby Frazier (12) Laurie Anderson (57) Laurie Simmons (42) Laylah Ali (36) Liz Magic Laser (2) Louise Bourgeois (93) Lucas Blalock (8) Lynda Benglis (5) Margaret Kilgallen (17) Mariah Robertson (5) Marina Abramović (16) Mark Bradford (100) Mark Dion (88) Martha Colburn (8) Martin Puryear (35) Mary Heilmann (33) Mary Reid Kelley (8) Matthew Barney (52) Matthew Ritchie (30)

My collaborative project TACTIC was awarded an incubation space in The LAB, a Dublin City Council-run artspace, for 6 months beginning in October 2008. This was a large studio in Dublin’s city centre. South African artist Ralph Borland and I used this space to bring artists and activists together for a month of talks, events, and debates during March 2009. Prior to that, I used the space during the other 5 months for TACTIC meetings in the morning and TRESPASS meetings in the afternoon.

"You stole my idea!" debate on copyright and art in TACTIC's incubation space.

Now I am back in my office/studio space at home.This space is a bit like the engine room of my wider practice. I am applying for funding for the next phase of these projects and work part-time to cover my rent. GK: One may be critical or skeptical about the office/studio/home model but underneath the initial layer of presuppositions attached to such workspaces, an in-depth look of the works produced within these homey walls may surprise us. Until next time, that’s a wrap!

Posted in: > Flash Points:, > Inside the Artist's Studio, Film & Video, Installation, Interviews, Ireland, Public Art, Social, What is the value of art? Similar posts: Urban Homestead , Inside the Artist’s Studio: The Studio Reader and the SAIC Summer Studio , I International Forum on Spaces for Culture November 8-10 , Kara Walker at Irish Museum of Modern Art , Open Enrollment: Coffee and Politics (Part 1) Comment (1)

Maya Lin (56) Mel Chin (32) Michael Ray Charles (6) Mika Tajima (7) Mike Kelley (84) Nancy Spero (51) Oliver Herring (54) Paul McCarthy (46) Paul Pfeiffer (22)

One Response to “Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan” Suwan Laimanee on January 12, 2011 3:52 pm Hi Seoidin, Great! I love the idea that you organize of feeding each other. Some cyberbandit has stolen my old emai laddress! Cheers, Suwan Reply

Pepón Osorio (16) Pierre Huyghe (35) Rackstraw Downes (5) Rashid Johnson (17) Raymond Pettibon (52) Richard Serra (69) Richard Tuttle (37) Robert Adams (37) Robert Mangold (4) Robert Ryman (31) Roni Horn (34) Sally Mann (30) Sarah Sze (11) Shahzia Sikander (32) Shana Moulton (11) Susan Rothenberg (19) Tabaimo (4) Tim Hawkinson (22) Tommy Hartung (4) Trenton Doyle Hancock (38) Ursula von Rydingsvard (35) Vija Celmins (29) Walton Ford (21) William Kentridge (91) William Wegman (35)

Trackback URI | Comments RSS Name (required) Email (required) Website Leave a Reply

http://blog.art21.org/2009/05/29/inside-the-artists-studio-seoidin-osullivan/

Page 4 of 6

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 8:11 PM

Submit Comment

Yinka Shonibare MBE (61) Art21 News (300) Biennials (61) Education (432) Exhibitions (735) Festivals (49) Guest Blog (710) Interviews (305) Locations: (1669) Africa (15) Argentina (5) Asia (15) Australia (12) Brazil (2) Canada (48) Caribbean (2) China (24) Colombia (5) Cuba (4) Denmark (11) Egypt (2) Finland (10) France (26) Germany (83) Greece (23) Guatemala (1) Iceland (2) India (7) Iraq (2) Ireland (7) Israel (1) Italy (31) Japan (6) Korea (2) Mexico (11) Middle East (14) Netherlands (13) Peru (3) Poland (3) Russia (2) Scotland (3) South Africa (13) Spain (29) Sweden (10) Switzerland (18) Taiwan (1) Thailand (1) Turkey (22) Ukraine (1) United Kingdom (154) USA (1271) Boston (27) Chicago (165) Connecticut (3) Houston (9) Indianapolis (28) Los Angeles (185) Miami (18) Minneapolis (3) Nebraska (3) New Orleans (23) New York City (569) North Carolina (4) Ohio (10)

http://blog.art21.org/2009/05/29/inside-the-artists-studio-seoidin-osullivan/

Page 5 of 6

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Seoidín O’Sullivan | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 8:11 PM

Philadelphia (21) Pittsburgh (6) Portland (3) San Francisco (89) Seattle (12) Texas (30) Washington (4) Washington D.C. (28) Media: (1629) Architecture (60) Design (82) Drawing & Collage (285) Fashion (27) Film & Video (421) Food (42) Installation (590) New Media (261) Painting (377) Performance (346) Photography (329) Printmaking (95) Public Art (224) Sculpture (455) Social (208) Sound (41) Sound & Music (100) Photos (23) Podcasts (14) Prizes (46) Programs-Events (297) Publications (103) Season 5 (113) Season 6 (32) Support Art21 (19) Uncategorized (75) William Kentridge: Anything is Possible (20)

© Art21, Inc. 2001–2013. All rights reserved. Art21 is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization; all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
contact us posts(RSS) comments (RSS) top

http://blog.art21.org/2009/05/29/inside-the-artists-studio-seoidin-osullivan/

Page 6 of 6