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Sounding out Grúpat
 

“So what is sound? Is it stillness? Does it shock flesh, the drums, the mind squealing? Is it the resolution or the tension? The silence or the not silent? So we sit or stand and even to hear the wildest anti-musical noise or nothing—it is still a creature in a jar. We want to free the creature. This is the point of everything you’ve heard before. The point, the sharpness of it, the moment where the idea takes shape and enters the flesh, drawing blood, opening bodies to air, not a penetration but a commingling, an embrasure, a knitting together, spillage and contamination—to set the creature free. Sound is the creature. Sound is a thing with feathers.” — Grúpat


Reusable Poster for Grupat by Turf BoonComposer and performer Jennifer Walshe’s work centres on the Tallaght-based artist collective known as Grúpat. Grúpat works primarily in sound, with work ranging from strictly-notated compositions for classic ensembles to graphic scores, sonic sculptures, sound installations and interventions in both the public and private sphere. The roots of Grúpat can be traced to 1999, when Bulletin M, The Parks Service, Turf Boon and other artists met at a rave at the Hellfire Club on Montpelier Hill, in the Dublin Mountains. They decided to form a political and artistic “insurgency” based on the ideas of the Situationists, graffiti artists, direct action networks, and others, which they called “The Avant Gardaí.” The rave was shut down by the police, but the artists met together later and began to develop interventions, dérives, and détournments along Situationist lines, which culminated in the infamous 2001 Quaring the Square intervention in the Tallaght Square, a multimedia infiltration that set upon Saturday afternoon mall shoppers with a three-hour long, illegal spectacle of music, dancing and art. Several members of The Avant Gardaí were arrested as a result, all of whom refused to give their proper names or answer any questions in any way except to say: “Grúpat.” As the practices and goals of The Avant Gardaí shifted and changed after the events surrounding Quaring the Square, and as membership evolved and grew more artistic and less provocatively political in orientation, what began as an assumed identity - Grúpat - was taken as the name for a new transformation of The Avant Gardaí, and Grúpat was soon developing not only interventions but also hosting shows and concerts featuring its members.

Grúpat is comprised mainly of artists living in the South Dublin County Council area, but has over the last few years grown to be international in scope and membership. While the group has a core roster, its affiliations and “temporary members” range widely. As well, many of the members of Grúpat, in line with their early pranksterish roots, exhibit and perform solely under pseudonyms. These facts sometimes make it difficult to determine exactly who or what is in Grúpat. Notable members include Bulletin M, The Parks Service, Detleva Verens, Ukeoirn O’Connor, Flor Hartigan and O’Brien Industries. This sub-set of Grúpat often exhibit under the name “6by4” a reference to the Parisian composers known as “Les Six” and the postcode Dublin 24, in which they all reside.

Jennifer Walshe has been working closely with members of Grúpat as a commissioner and curator. Walshe has commissioned a number of works for solo voice from Grúpat members which she has premiered to critical acclaim at concerts in the Kilkenny Arts Festival (Ireland), the Museum of Arts and Design (New York), Tmu-na Theatre (Israel) and Frau Musica Nova (Germany). Performances by Jennifer Walshe of Grúpat members’ work have been broadcast on Lyric FM (Ireland) and Deutschlandfunk Radio (Germany). Grúpat members have exploited Walshe’s commitment to non-traditional musical notation by writing pieces for her voice which incorporate photographs of the landscape around Tallaght, embroidered pictures from the Tallaght Echo and diagrams of the sky over South Dublin County into their scores. These unusual notational methods have garnered much interest for Grúpat members’ work - Three Songs by Ukeoirn O’Connor, Scintillia Studies by Detleva Verens and Whives by Flor Hartigan were exhibited in the Museum of Arts and Design, New York in November 2007. Whives by Flor Hartigan will be featured in the Notations21 Anthology to be published by Mark Batty in Winter 2008.

Installation shot of Bohernabreena by Grupat at TulcaIn November Walshe curated the Grúpat installation for the Tulca Arts Festival, Galway. The installation took over a room in the Pink Cottage Galway, filling the air with sound, scores, candles and over a pound of dried lavender. Grúpat describes the installation:

“Driving south of Dublin along the road to Bohernabreena we are suddenly in the countryside, the rural stealing upon us like a friend from behind, throwing over our eyes hands of mist and fingers of bog, clutching us in trees. A few minutes ago we jostled in the urban buzz of Tallaght, now a valley sheers away to the right and colours shift into the bruises of autumn. The shift in modality is exquisite, like passing through a veil, through the veil, into a realm, a hidden pocket, a secret sound held in your palm. Bohernabreena is a sound installation which plays with this shift, this veil, drifting between the unconventional scores which produced the sounds and the sounds themselves.”

Bohernabreena was featured both in the press and on CitiChannel TV.

For more information on Jennifer Walshe click here

For more information on Grúpat visit below websites
http://myspace.com/bulletinm
http://www.myspace.com/theparksservice
http://myspace.com/turfboon
http://myspace.com/ukeoirnoconnor
http://www.tulca.ie/pink_cottage.html

Press Clippings Grúpat


A Short History Of Grúpat
by Stuart Fresh
Download PDF A_Short_History_of_Grupat.pdf (56.86 KB)

Kilkenny Arts Festival Review
Review in The Irish Times, Aug 21 2007
Download PDF Irish Times Aug 21 2007.pdf (118.45 KB)

DETLEVA VERENS: TOMOGRAPHY, ECHOLOCATION, CONTAINMENT
Irish Sound Artist crosses Channels

Review in Exberliner, June 2006, Issue 39
Download PDF Detleva_Verens.pdf (41.12 KB)

Public Nuisance: Grúpat Strikes Again
Review of the Hack Tallaght project by Edwin Virringofin

PARKING by the Parks Service
Review in On Site, The Wire #268, May 2006
Download PDF The_Parks_Service.pdf (54.59 KB)

An Interview with Ukeoirn O’Connor
Conversation from ContemporaryMusic Centre of Ireland website www.cmc.ie
Download PDF Ukeoirn_OConnor.pdf (61.23 KB)

Day-Glo Gothic: Violetta Mahon’s Secret Cathedral of the Imagination
Article by Sarah Bendix, writing for ArtNews

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