Fiona Marron is a visual artist based in Dublin, Ireland. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Dublin Institute of Technology and an MA in Visual Arts Practice from IADT Dun Laoghaire. Solo exhibitions include Co-location at RUA RED South Dublin Arts Centre, Ireland (2013), Last and First Men at The Joinery, Dublin, Ireland (2011), As Topic and Tool at The Joinery (2010) and For Who Knows What at FOUR, Dublin, Ireland (2009). Recent group exhibitions include In Free Circulation’ at Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin, Ingenious Showcase at The Drawing Project, Dun Laoghaire, We all live on the same sea at Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Co.Cork (2014). She has recently been awarded a residency as part the Digital Media Award at Firestation Artists’ Studios, Dublin and a production residency at Creative Spark, Dundalk, Co.Louth.
Sophie Behalf, Maeve Lynch, Steven Nestor, Rosie O’ Reilly and Benjamin Stafford had interviewed her.
Q1: Do you consider yourself an Irish practitioner of the arts? If so how does that manifest itself and is it difficult to be an Irish practitioner?
Yes – Identifying myself as an Irish practitioner of the arts, I acknowledge that my practice is based in Ireland and has a particular perspective because of this. While geographically on the periphery of Europe, and due of the island nature of the country I feel there are certain particularities to being an Irish artist. While still being exposed to European influences it is easier to be impartial to some trends. I don’t think being an artist in Ireland is necessarily difficult but I would be of the opinion that support for artists in other parts of Europe is more ingrained in society and perhaps eases certain pressures.
Q2: Do you think art and art practice are a luxury practice?
From my perspective I would not consider art or art practice to be a luxury practice, but undoubtedly have observed the reception of art in certain instances to be bound to an extravagance in spending in the same way that luxury products are consumed.
Q3: Do you think producing work for a market effects its value it as a cultural object?
In my view, if the objective is purely to serve the market and its demands then the value of a cultural object is reduced to that of a commodity. Depending on the context however, a different set of considerations on value might surround artworks that intend to make a point of critiquing the art market as a system. While disavowal of the market in favour of reputational value may be considered a more respected approach, the reality for a lot of artists is that when their work inadvertently proves popular in the market, certain previous standards tend to shift.
Q4: Do you feel that recent economic conditions have been cyclical in nature? If so, what has been your reaction?
As the property market in Ireland has already returned to patterns that were evident in the years that preceded the crash there are definitely signs of repetition in economic conditions. During the timeframe described as the downturn there was a lot of talk in political circles about getting things back on track – this statement always bothered me as the ‘track’ they desired to get back on was already a misguided one and not one I would have thought anyone would want to return to. Whether economic conditions are entirely cyclical is questionable though, as several changes have occurred that can never allow the context to be identical.
Q5: Do you think that similar arduous economic situations link you and your work to practitioners and the Zeitgeist of other PIIGS countries?
I imagine that similar discontent has been experienced by practitioners in other PIIGS countries and therefore would motivate these artists in comparable ways. I also think its easy to see how the significance of such links could become over stretched, but it definitely seems an interesting experiment to align the work of artists from countries with this commonality. Even within the group of countries represented by the acronym, there are major differences in the ways in which these countries dealt with the aftermath, so that also brings in to question what different ways artists from these locations may have dealt with it too. All the countries involved have suffered from the negative connotations associated with being labelled by the PIIGS tag, so it is a valid association to think of artists observing the situation from these dispersed perspectives.
Q6: How did the recession affect you? Positively, negatively or not at all?
Personally, as an artist who graduated into the environment of the recent recession, I would say that having not been accustomed to the affluence of previous conditions, the recession in terms of a change to my circumstances affected me less than other more established artists. In saying that however, the cuts to the arts sector during this time have meant that their were less resources available in the years where I was starting to build a career and in this way things have been challenging. One positive outcome of this period of time was the upsurge in artist-run spaces and the availability of vacant spaces for use by arts groups as a result of the property down turn. Many of my early opportunities came from independent gallery spaces and organisations that were trying to do something different. Oddly enough, learning how to make work with little or no budget is something that will possibly be of benefit to me when dealing with future production challenges.
Q7: Do you draw a distinction between a specialist, informed art audience and the wider public, and the way each group is perceived to respond to art?
Without doubt there are various distinctions between these sectors of an audience, but for me I see a successful work as one that offers something to any viewer regardless of their background so I see no distinction in terms of superiority. Making work that is only intended for an informed art audience negates the merit of art. The wider public are often perceived to be baffled by contemporary art, but in actuality they are often the sector of the audience who ask the more interesting questions about what might be at stake in a work and garner more from it as a result.
Q8: Are you aware of local and national governmental policies relating to the arts?
While I am aware of various governmental policies relating to the arts, I am by no means fully informed on the entire span or intricacies of these how these are implemented. One observation which has become ever more apparent is that while elected political representatives are outwardly verbally supportive of arts activities and the cultural value of these in Ireland, there appears to be a chasm between the rhetoric of this support and the implementation of policy to match the sentiment.
Q9: Do you consider yourself to be politically active. If yes, how do you manifest this activity?
I consider myself to be politically active in that I make an effort to keep up to date with happenings that not only interest me directly but also affect the conditions of society in Ireland and beyond. As a citizen I make it a priority to vote in all elections or referendums that take place here, after giving time to consider my views on the options presented. When an issue arises that I feel strongly for I will often contact serving councillors to advocate my position and look for their support of same, and at other times I have participated in protest marches. Most of the time however, I am more interested in small political actions that occur in everyday situations than mediated grand gestures, as I feel incremental adaptation is a more realistic outcome than seismic change.
Sophie Behalf, Maeve Lynch, Steven Nestor, Rosie O’ Reilly, Benjamin Stafford