Engage | Event

Empty Columns Are A Place to Dream

January 04, 2022 - February 19, 2022

 An Exhibition of International Collage Artists

Monuments are ubiquitous on the landscape. Common and omnipresent, they blend into the background and go unnoticed until someone points them out. In recent years, monuments have become flashpoints of cultural controversy. It wasn’t that these monuments weren’t being seen, it’s that some people in the community weren’t hearing what others in the community were saying about them.

In 1747, a sandstone column was erected in the center of Birr, County Offaly, Ireland and topped with a statue of the Duke of Cumberland who just the year before brutally defeated the Scots at Culloden. The column and its statue was an act of imperialism, a message to the Irish people that a similar fate awaited them should they, too, resist English rule. In 1915, Birr Town Council voted to remove the statue. The Council’s action came during a period when the people of Ireland were asserting their independence from England. The column has stood empty ever since.

In 2021, at the invitation of the citizens of Birr, curator Ric Kasini Kadour invited eighteen collage artists from eleven countries to use an image by Robert French (1841-1917), The Square, Parsonstown, from the Lawrence Photograph Collection to imagine a monument that speaks to a world where all people enjoy safety, security, well-being, and dignity on their own terms. The collage prints debuted during the 53rd Annual Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, where the project was recognized with a National Heritage Award.

The exhibition of these works in the American South changes the context of the project from one rooted in British imperialism to an opportunity to reflect upon the role monuments can play in historical revisionism, in particular as we work to undo the legacy of slavery and the use of Confederate monuments to distort history and intimidate the descendants of enslaved people. That important civic conversation has focused on whether monuments should stay or be removed. We hope this exhibition invites a different conversation: What role do we want monuments to play in our community? What shared ideas or collective memories do we want future generations to celebrate? And ultimately, how can we build communities where all people enjoy safety, security, well-being, and dignity on their own terms.

About the Curator: Ric Kasini Kadour

Ric Kasini Kadour, a 2021 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts Curatorial Fellow, is a writer, artist, publisher, and cultural worker. Working with the Vermont Arts Council, Kadour curated four exhibits: “Connection: The Art of Coming Together” (2017) and Vermont Artists to Watch 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2017, he curated “The Art of Winter” at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery in Burlington, Vermont. In 2018, Kadour curated “Revolutionary Paths: Critical Issues in Collage” at Antenna Gallery in New Orleans, which bought together collage artists whose work represents the potential for deeper inquiry and further curatorial exploration of the medium; followed in 2019 by “Cultural Deconstructions: Critical Issues in Collage” at LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans, which furthered the conversation. Since 2018, he has produced Kolaj Fest New Orleans, a multi-day festival & symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society. As Curator of Contemporary Art at Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont in 2019 and 2020, he curated three exhibitions, “Rokeby Through the Lens” (May 19-June 16, 2019), “Structures” (August 24-October 27, 2019), and “Mending Fences: New Works by Carol MacDonald” (July 12-October 25, 2020). He also curated “Contemporary American Regionalism: Vermont Perspectives” (August 17-October 20, 2019) and “Where the Sun Casts No Shadow: Postcards from the Creative Crossroads of Quito, Ecuador” (November 1-30, 2019) in the Wilson Museum & Galleries at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. “The Money $how”, co-curated with Frank Juarez, was presented at the AIR Space Gallery at Saint Kate-The Arts Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (April 10-September 12, 2021). For the 53rd Annual Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland (August 13-20, 2021), he curated “Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream”. Kadour is the editor and publisher of Kolaj Magazine. He has written for a number of galleries and his writing has appeared in Hyperallergic, OEI, Vermont Magazine, Seven Days, Seattle Weekly, Art New England (where he was the former Vermont editor) and many others. Kadour maintains an active art practice and his photography, collage, and sculpture have been exhibited in and are part of private collections in Australia, Europe and North America. In January-February 2020, he was artist-in-residence at MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland. He holds a BA in Comparative Religion from the University of Vermont. Kadour splits his time between Montreal and New Orleans. www.rickasinikadour.com

Kolaj Magazine & Institute

Kolaj Magazine is a quarterly, printed, art magazine reviewing and surveying contemporary collage with an international perspective. We are interested in collage as a medium, a genre, a community, and a 21st-century art movement. 

The mission of Kolaj Institute is to support artists, curators, and writers who seek to study, document, & disseminate ideas that deepen our understanding of collage. Kolaj Institute operates a number of initiatives meant to bring together community, investigate critical issues, and raise collage’s standing in the art world. 

www.kolajmagazine.com

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