Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, speaking at the Dublin Launch of Venice Art Biennale


“Céad míle fáilte anseo anocht. Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chuir romhaibh uilig anseo anocht. Is ócáid fíor-thábhachtach é seo i gcomhair na amharc-ealaíona in Éirinn.”

We are here to make the formal announcement of Ireland’s participation in the Venice Art Biennale. It is fitting that we are gathered in Iveagh House, from which many international high profile events across all sectors of Irish society are formulated. In this wonderful Ballroom we are as close as we can get to Italy, below a ceiling which is said to be modelled on the ancient baths of Diocletian in Rome and within the magnificent walls which are clad in Carrera marble.

As most of you gathered here already know, in 2019 Ireland will be represented by Eva Rothchild’s exhibition “The Shrinking Universe” which is curated by Mary Cremin. This proposal was selected under a competitive process which was managed by Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council. It is a great achievement to win the honour to represent Ireland at the world’s most significant visual arts exhibition and I congratulate you both as I know there was an extremely strong interest and that the award was well won.

Ireland at Venice is an important project in the context of the Government’s Global Ireland initiative which aims to increase Ireland’s global footprint.  The investment of €310,000 in Ireland’s presentation, with €240,000 provided by Culture Ireland and my Department, is testament to the commitment to support this presentation and Ireland’s global reach.

Eva, in speaking of The Shrinking Universe, references the extent to which the world seems to have contracted in terms of travel and communicative possibilities and how our perception of time, distance and opportunity has been transformed over the past decade. This is in fact why we need as a nation to embrace a global approach and focus increasingly on working in an international context.

Exhibiting at the Biennale provides a high profile platform for the international art world to engage with Irish contemporary art practice and to showcase the strength of Irish creativity working on the global stage. Previous artists who have represented Ireland at Venice have subsequently gained significant international profile.  Eva, who is originally from Dun Laoghaire, currently based in London, having studied in Belfast, seems to embody our current desire to cement our relationship with the UK. I am aware that Eva is already on the road to achieving global success and undoubtedly the platform of the Venice Biennale will increase her global recognition.

I know we all aspire to see the exhibition in Venice but I am delighted that the opportunity is available for all to see the exhibition on its return to Ireland in 2020 as part of a commitment by Culture Ireland and the Arts Council to present the exhibition on a national tour which the Arts Council will support.

I wish Mary and Eva every success in Venice, it is challenging I know, but you have worked hard and taken this honour to represent Ireland very seriously and ensure that the best possible exhibition will be delivered.

The exhibitions in Venice will take many forms and Eva’s well considered sculptural work fits the words of one of the greatest ever artists, Pablo Picasso who said;

“Sculpture is the art of the intelligence”

Thank you very much – Enjoy the rest of the evening.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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