The Quickening Twenty Times – Kunstverein, Amsterdam

May 29—June 2, 2024

Kunstverein x Amsterdam Art Weekend
Deirdre O’Mahony, The Quickening

During Amsterdam Art Weekend, as an offshoot of her major solo exhibition at The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art in Dublin, and in collaboration with our baby sister Kunstverein Aughrim, Kunstverein is proud to host twenty special screenings of The Quickening by Deirdre O’Mahony.

Deirdre O’Mahony’s 30+ years practice is rooted in the belief that art, as an alternate form of knowledge and a critical space to help us see things differently, is a powerful tool to bring together diverse communities. In the past, she has put it to use to investigate the political ecology of rural places through public engagement, exhibitions, critical writing, and cultural production. The Quickening too is a vehicle to discuss the contemporary issues facing farming, food production and consumption set on by one of the most urgent realities facing our time: the irreversible rise of the oceans. The film is the outcome of O’Mahony’s Sustainment Experiments—orchestrated gatherings disguised as modern lent feasts, bringing together actors that normally only sit figuratively opposite from each other at the other ends of a polarized conversation: farmers, scientists and politicians.

These gatherings allowed for physical, non-hierarchical, in-person, meetings where open and frank discussions about the reality of farming life and the centrality of soil to our lives could be had. As they ate and drank, the guests deliberated over sowing and harvesting techniques, discussed extreme weather, volatile demands of the market, food regulation, and the anxious, increasingly divided discourses around food. Their transcribed conversations became the building blocks for The Quickening, a new libretto that pairs human perspectives with other, non-human voices equally insistent on being heard, though they speak in a softer tongue; animals breathing in and out, the buzz of insects, the movement of soil creatures beneath our feet. And so, this polyphonic work reflects the land and its many inhabitants affected by the unseasonal droughts, floods, and erosions brought on by accelerating climate change.

Screenings of the film will start daily, on the hour during Kunstverein’s regular opening times.

Special Event
with Deirdre O’Mahony, Kate Strain, Honey Jones-Hughes & Antonio de la Hera
Friday, May 31 (7pm)

Following the last screening of the day of The Quickening, a conversation between the artist Deirdre O’Mahony and curator Kate Strain, of Kunstverein Aughrim will be held.

Serving: potato kombucha and potato-tulip ice cream

Both the tulip and the potato have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. Some provide sustenance for the body, some for the soul. Moreover, what binds them together is the role each played in the shaping of the countries and the cultures our Kunstverein franchise holds a foot in. Respectively, The Netherlands and Ireland. Amidst the ongoing ‘boerenprotesten’—a series of demonstrations by Dutch farmers triggered by a 2019 parliament proposal to halve the country’s livestock in an attempt to limit agricultural pollution in the Netherlands—and a growing divide between the people providing our food and those consuming it, we look at how the food we share shapes our thoughts. By bringing together different voices in the field, this event aims to offer a Dutch version of O’Mahony Sustainment Experiments – which lay at the foundation of her film now shown at Kunstverein – in an attempt (however small) to bridge the gap.

This moment will be celebrated with a special serving of a potato-tulip ice cream by Honey Jones-Hughes & Antonio de la Hera (aka buurtijs) and a potato kombucha in special ceramics (for sale at the event for just €150 each) made by O’Mahony.

Thanks

The Quickening was commissioned by The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art, Dublin, and supported by The Douglas Hyde and The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. This offshoot-presentation of The Quickening is made in collaboration with Kunstverein Aughrim and supported by Culture Ireland and Mondriaan Fonds. For their support to Buurtijs’ new flavour we would also like to thank milk farmer Bas van den Berg and John and Johanna Huiberts, of Huiberts biologische bloembollen. Kunstverein also wishes to thank its members and AFk for their continued support of our program.