Burren College of Art Time, Space & Inspiration


  • Image courtesy of David Burrows & Plastique Fantastique
11th Mar 2016

Proposition: an Art of Ethics is a two day symposium which will take place at the Burren College of Art on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th March 2016. The event is supported by Clare County Council, NUI Galway and the Burren College of Art and is co-organised by Michaële Cutaya, Katherine Waugh and Conor McGrady (Dean of Academic Affairs Burren College of Art).

Participants include:  Iain Biggs, David Burrows, Vivienne Dick, Maria Kerin, Glenn Loughran, Seamus McGuinness, Aislinn O'Donnell, Ciaran Smyth, Susan Stenger, Judith Stewart, Suzanne Walsh.

"Spinoza's ethics has nothing to do with a morality; he conceives it as an ethology, that is, as a composition of fast and slow speeds, of capacities for affecting and being affected on this plane of immanence. That is why Spinoza calls out to us in the way he does: you do not know beforehand what good or bad you are capable of; you do not know beforehand what a body or a mind can do, in a given encounter, a given arrangement, a given combination."
Gilles Deleuze Spinoza:Practical Philosophy

This symposium gathers together artists, theorists and curators for two days of research and experimentation. All contributors have been invited to engage through their practice with ideas relating to a conception of ethics which differs substantially from dominant notions of morality. The starting point of the symposium – its founding 'proposition' – is philosopher Gilles Deleuze's reading of Spinoza, given Spinoza's extensive influence on recent artistic practice and thought around the 'ethical' in art. For Deleuze, Spinoza's ethics was a "a long affair of experimentation" which re-conceptualised the relationship between life, thought and practice, and this symposium will attempt to foster such an ethos of experimentation in its content and structure  – proposing ethics as a methodology in contrast to the rigid principles of morality. The many nuanced and singular methodologies required in artistic practice will be addressed in a variety of presentational formats by the invited participants: from art and music, film and writing to conversation itself. A continuous dynamic of responsiveness and discussion will be facilitated between both participants and attendees. Spontaneous forays into the surrounding countryside will also be considered.

In 'Towards an Aesthetics of Ethics' (Whitechapel/MIT Documents of Contemporary Art, Ethics, 2015), Walead Beshty’s notes:

“While moral criteria are always external to the circumstances to which they are applied, the ethical is immanent to the site of its deployment […]A turn to ethics is a turn to the affirmative question of art, not art as negation, allegory or critique, but the description of an art that operates directly upon the world it is situated in; it is a definition of art that is not at all premised on representation.”

Nietzsche asked "What is the mode of existence of the person who utters a given proposition?” and this symposium will take what is often seen as the "minor" tradition of ethical thought, an ethics of immanent practice, as its foundational proposition, allowing in turn a multiplicity of other propositions to take shape and develop over two days.

The symposium is free to all and food and refreshments will be served.

To reserve your place, please email Lisa Newman at

This event was made possible with support from NUI Galway and Clare County Council.

Participant Bios:

Dr Iain Biggs

Iain Biggs RWA works as an independent visual artist, teacher, writer and researcher. He holds Visiting Research Fellowships at Bath Spa University and UWE, Bristol, and is a UK coordinator for the arts-led research network PLaCE and the Mapping Spectral Traces network. He regularly publishes academic material and is supervising arts practice-led doctoral projects in the Irish Republic, England and Wales. He has undertaken various ‘deep mapping’ projects and is currently working with the arts organization NOVA on a major project on hydro-citizenship. In 2014 he held a Moore Institute Visiting Fellowship at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

David Burrows

David Burrows is an artist and writer interested in notions and concepts of the new in sacred, mass and avant-garde cultures. His current practice addresses the production of fiction as a transformative process as well as notions of impermanence and immanence, extending earlier concerns that addressed violence, destruction, crisis and disorientation as structural elements in popular & mass culture and avant-garde & utopian culture.
As well as establishing a solo art practice, Burrows has often worked in collaboration, including collaborations with the artists’ group BANK, Bob & Roberta Smith and DJ Simpson. Since 2005, David Burrows has been collaborating with Simon O’Sullivan to produce the performance-fiction Plastique Fantastique, through the production of events, films, writing, installations and artefacts.

David Burrows was born in London in 1965. He studied at Goldsmiths College, London. He has exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad including the South London Gallery, London, 176 Zabludowicz Collection, London, Chisenhale Gallery, London, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Arts Space, Sidney (with DJ Simpson) and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. He has participated in the Tatton Biennial (with Simon O’Sullivan), ‘GSK Contemporary’ at the Royal Academy of the Arts, London (with Simon O’Sullivan), and Macro/Micro: British Art 1996 – 2002, Kunsthalle Mucsarnok, Budapest. He was selected for Becks Futures at the ICA, London in 2001 and received a Paul Hamlyn Visual Artists Award in 2003.

Published writing includes An art scene as big as the Ritz: the logics of scenes in ‘Deleuze & Contemporary Art’, Edinburgh University Press (2010), The Chymical Wedding: Masochism and Performance, Angelaki (2010 with Simon O’Sullivan) and Readymades, Lavender Mist and Mirror Travel in ‘Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New’, Continuum (2009). Burrows is a lecturer and the Head of Undergraduate Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Vivienne Dick

Vivienne Dick makes multilayered, open-ended work  framed from a female perspective and with an interest in sexual politics. Her early work is associated with the No Wave music and film movement of late seventies New York.  Her work has been shown extensively at festivals and museums in many countries.  In 2007 she was elected to Aosdana  and in recent years has had retrospectives of her work at Crawford, Cork and at Tate Modern with an upcoming show at IMMA in 2017.  Her work is in the collections of the MoMA , New York and the Irish Film Archives and is distributed by Lux UK.  Her most recent film Red Moon Rising was nominated for the Short Film Awards at the London Film Festival 2015. 

Maria Kerin

Maria Kerin is a graduate of Fine Art from DIT (1998) and holds an MA in Contemporary Dance performance from UL, (2006).

Combining her process based art practice and embodied movement formed through somatic principles, Kerin is tracing her own cross-disciplinary journey through methods of inner listening and finding presence in live performance and framing this through new media, internet, mobile phone, Skype. Her multidisciplinary work has evolved to question a sense of belonging and interrogating relations to place, formed through an embodied sense of being in the world, instilled in her from a rural upbringing in county Clare.

As well as public performances in Sweden, Estonia, England, Wales and Ireland and exhibiting in private galleries and spaces, public commissions include Sculpture in Kells, 2009, Electric Picnic, 2007, Kilkenny Arts Festival, 2007, and Ground Up, 2004 and funding from the Arts Council, Clare and Cavan County Council and the Irish Embassy in Estonia.
Kerin has also mentored and curated extensively nationally and internationally, especially in Estonia where she is based part-time. A founder member of Outrider Artists, Kerin is interested in trans-local cultural meetings and exchanges through hospitality, peer sharing and creativity and also works with SERDE, Latvia, to matchmake and instigate Creative Europe projects.

Maria Kerin is presently a PhD arts practice student in the Irish Academy of Music and Dance,UL, inquiring into the spatial dimensions of her embodied practice formed through somatic principles.

Glenn Loughran

Glenn Loughran is an Artist and Lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Creative Arts and Media (DIT), where he is course coordinator of the B.A.V.A on Sherkin Island.

Originally from Belfast, N.Ireland, Loughran has studied Art and Design at The Ulster University (1991), Dun Laoghaire College of Art Design Technology (Diploma / 2002), Fine Art Painting at the National College of Art and Design (B.A / 2003), Sculpture at N.C.A.D (M.A / 2005), and a doctorate at the N.C.A.D/Graduate School Of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) (2013).

Throughout this educational trajectory Loughran worked across two fields of practice, one focused on informal education, the other on artistic research within the framework of participatory art. Exhibiting Nationally and Internationally, his recent work has developed hybrid forms of these practices to investigate the concept of he event in education, such as thehedgeschoolproject, represented here:

Seamus McGuinness

Seamus McGuinness studied at GMIT where his initial art training for his Primary Degree was in textile design - the exploration of cloth-making. His artwork has always been influenced by the notion of the fragile - in terms of material, of the landscape we live in, and now in Lived Lives by the fragility of life itself. In 2006, he became the first Ad Astra scholar in Suicide Studies in the School of Medicine and Medical Science UCD and was awarded a PhD for his research on young suicide in Ireland (Lived Lives) in 2010. He currently works as a lecturer in Contemporary Textiles in GMIT and lives in the Burren, Co. Clare.

Aislinn O Donnell

Aislinn O’Donnell received her PhD in philosophy from the University of Warwick. She has lectured at a number of universities including the University of Dundee, University College Dublin and the National College of Art and Design. She currently lectures in Philosophy of Education at Mary Immaculate College (University of Limerick).
Her writing, teaching and research involve engagement in a range of formal settings, such as primary schools, as well as informal settings and non-traditional sites of learning, including closed institutions. These spaces become research sites offering opportunities for co-enquiry in philosophy and cognate disciplines. This approach is influenced by contemporary art practice and research. Together with gallery educator and curator Katy Fitzpatrick, she has been developing a project called ‘Art and Philosophy in the Classroom’. They have collaborated on Young EVA, NINE (with the Lab), Dublin Ships (with the Lab and Dublin City Council] and Mobile Art School. She is currently developing a book project entitled ‘Experimental Imaginaries”.

Ciaran Smyth, Vagabond Reviews

Ciaran Smyth and Ailbhe Murphy are co-founders of Vagabond Reviews, an interdisciplinary platform combining socially engaged art and research practice. As artists and researchers they are interested in engaging broader publics in alternative forms of cultural participation and knowledge production. They recently completed a residency at Workhouse Union, Callan, Co Kilkenny. As part of a broader residency programme curated by Hollie Kearns and Rosie Lynch, their research culminated with Temporary Institute (One): the Bio-Archives. In a public event at the nascent library at Workhouse Union in November 2015 contributors were invited to draw on their lived investment of reading in order to select the texts which have influenced them and helped them endure in relation to struggles with forms of systemic violence.

For the Jackman Goldwasser residency at Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (July – August, 2015) they explored the city through the lens of social practice and architecture via a research device entitled Sciemtia Civitatis: Missing Titles Chicago. Recent projects include Scientia Civitatis: Missing Titles for the exhibition Phoenix Rising, Art and the Civic Imagination (November 2014 – March 2015) at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, curated by Logan Sisley. Initiated in 2011, the Arcade Project explores arts-based pedagogy in youth work with the Rialto Youth Project, Dublin 8. Other projects include (In)Visible Labour Factorium for the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s Legacy Project, curated by Valerie Connor. The Legacy project exhibition Still, We Work was launched in the Gallery of Photography in Dublin in November 2014 and has toured in 2015 at the Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny, Callan Workhouse KIlkenny and Dance Ireland, Limerick.

Susan Stenger

Susan Stenger was born in Buffalo, NY. Following intensive flute studies in both Prague and New York, she specialised in performing the music of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Phill Niblock. She was a founder of acclaimed wall-of-guitar group Band Of Susans and all-bass art band Big Bottom and has collaborated with an eclectic range of artists, including dancer/choreographer Michael Clark, writers Iain Sinclair and Alan Moore, and scrap-metal percussionist FM Einheit. She has also toured America with The Creatures and John Cale and for three years performed regularly as a bassist with Nick Cave. In 2006 she was commissioned by Mathieu Copeland, along with with Forma Arts for the Musée Art Contemporain Lyon, to make an exhibition-length sound installation. Soundtrack for an Exhibition, which ran for 96 days, explored song form on multiple levels of genre, time and detail.

Stenger’s cyclical drone work Full Circle was first presented as a month-long installation during Newcastle's AV Festival 2012 and was subsequently featured in Toronto's Nuit Blanche Festival and the Stockholm Music and Art Festival. In 2011 she composed the soundtrack for Pat Collins’ film Tim Robinson: Connemara. Stenger's soundtrack was based on a study of Irish traditional unaccompanied singing, the Connemara landscape, and a close reading of writer and cartographer Robinson’s work.

Stenger’s Deep Songs, a new work commissioned by Oslo’s Only Connect Festival for performance in June 2015, combined subterranean sounds with the elemental timbral qualities and profound melancholy of the Hardanger fiddle. In 2014 Mathieu Copeland invited Stenger to make music for The Exhibition of a Film, which premiered at Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement in Geneva and has since had iterations at the Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern. The resulting Three Disembodied Love Songs include Stenger’s performances interwoven with studio-constructed duets between Cosey Fanni Tutti and Laetitia Sadier, and Nick Cave and Alan Vega.

Her most recent exhibition, Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland, uses an 1838 cross-section geological diagram as a graphic score, creating a sonic geology of layered instrumental sounds, melodic patterns and signature rhythms from Northumbrian folk music and dance.  Premiered in 2014 at the Laing Art Gallery as part of Newcastle’s AV Festival 2014, Sound Strata has toured the Northumberland coast throughout 2015 and resulted in a 96-page publication with CD.

Judith Stewart

Judith Stewart is an artist and a lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts. Her practice has included research and experimentation into alternative modes of curating and supporting artists. Since 2010 she has worked in a freelance capacity with firstsite (Colchester), as Artists' Support Researcher and as Research Advisor for the Associate Artist Programme. Her PhD looked at the impact of the government's social inclusion agenda on artists and their work. She is a founder member of Clause Four, an experiment in artist-led critical collecting.

Suzanne Walsh

Suzanne Walsh is a cross-disciplinary artist from Wexford, based mainly in Dublin. She works  across a spectrum of writing, music/sound and performance, in both an art and musical context, as well as publishing in journals, most recently in Gorse literary journal. She is an editor of the creative art writing magazine Critical Bastards.

Thematically her work often draws on questions around the human/animal divide and the borders of the human 'self', animism and poetic truth. She is inspired by ecology and literature.

In the past year she has performed in the Oonagh Young Gallery and MART in Dublin, with Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw and in Harelbeke, Belgium. She frequently collaborates with other musicians and film-makers also, including a sound-group based in Temple Bar Gallery. She is currently working on a body of fictional writing as well as a solo musical project.