of de Blacam and Meagher (2010)

of de Blacam and Meagher (2010)


of de Blacam and Meagher was Ireland's exhibition at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice in 2010. The exhibition addressed de Blacam and Meagher Architects' built and unbuilt portfolio of the previous 33 years and sought to communicate the cultural landscape of Ireland through this work.

The exhibition was commissioned by the Irish Architecture Foundation under the directorship of Nathalie Weadick. The exhibition concept took the form of a book unbound, containing volumes of drawing and photographic reproductions from the archives, contemporary photography and readings of the work with commentaries. The commentaries came from a cross-generational collective, who shared an encounter with the architecture of de Blacam and Meagher. Their commentaries offered a contemporary and critical view of the practice and its positioning in the wider context of Irish architecture.

of de Blacam and Meagher exhibition was presented in the oratory of Chiesa di San Gallo. The oratory’s perfect jewel-box-like dimensions established the appropriate context architecturally and historically for the exhibition's curatorial thesis to be played out. Similarly, the venue responded to La Biennale’s theme 'People Meet in Architecture', encouraging the public to not only interact with the paper archive exhibition but with the physical space it was placed within.

Nine thousand volumes were presented as paper stacks on oak joinery in the eighteenth century oratory of the Irish monk St.Gall near Piazza San Marco. The installation within the oratory acted as both archive and reading room. The public were invited to read the work and take it away as a folio. Over time the stacks were depleted by the actions of the public, until finally only the furnishings were left. The archive was, in essence consumed.

of de Blacam and Meagher was curated by Tom dePaor, Peter Maybury, Alice Casey and Cian Deegan. While avoiding rhetoric and representation, they created a three-dimensional evocation of a concept, which connected the public to the subject through invited interpretations and in turn revealed the critical significance of the practice. They arranged the works as they existed and as they were understood.

The exhibition had two speeds; one was the immediate visual impact created by imposing paper stacks, scaled to physically and theatrically occupy the space; the second a deep and enveloping engagement of an archive, encouraging the act of reading and observation, research and questioning.