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not just A Gallery

Art galleries can largely be perceived to be passive containers of artworks. Curator Daniel Jewesbury has gathered together a number of artists from various disciplines to challenge that notion, and is giving the public the opportunity to engage with the work and its creators -- through discussions, workshops and performances -- while challenging their own views as to what objects and constructions shape their world.

The event -- it seems to be much bigger than an exhibition -- is called re:public, and will be based in Temple Bar Gallery & Studios for the next few months. Jewesbury sheds some light on the thinking process behind this major undertaking.

Can we reframe our definition of 'gallery'?

All kinds of ways have been tried to take art out of the gallery, to find new ways of encountering art. But the gallery is a public space, too; there's really no reason why it has to be thought of as elitist, even if the art inside it is difficult, or strange.

The gallery is one of the few places where you can come in and enter a different time zone, if you want to -- by trying to understand what an artist is saying and why they've chosen to use a particular medium in a certain way. I don't want people to come to galleries because they think it might be good for them; I want people to come in and look for new ways of understanding themselves and the world around them.

How did re:public come about?

I'm an artist, and the themes we're exploring in re:public are ones that I find crop up again and again in my own work.

GradCAM, the research academy in art, design and media in Dublin, asked me to put this project together, and I helped them secure funding from the European Commission. We then approached Temple Bar Gallery, and they were very generous and enthusiastic.

We're holding a series of events like this in 2010, not just in Dublin, but in Helsinki and Zagreb also. The aim is to be able to compare what we see in the places that we go to, and to document all this.

Are artists vital to the community?

Even though Ireland is often portrayed as having a wonderfully rich culture, we don't always see a commitment to including artists' voices in the bigger conversation about who we want to be and where we want to live. Art can genuinely offer us different ways of thinking about the world. But artists also have to be given a chance to think seriously about what they want their role to be, individually and collectively. Hopefully, this project helps point us in that direction. - SC

Re:public runs 'til mid March. See www.templebargallery.com for info