Collaborative projects are an intrinsic part of Sonia Shiel’s interdisciplinary process and have prompted the development of performance-, audio-, holographic-, animated-, and mechanical-works; in which she loosely appropriates scientific, legal and theatre-based methodologies towards the production of her exhibitions.
TEXT and audio
ROUND TABLE AND VASE (2019)
‘Round Table and Vase’ is an upcoming experimental community of invited playwrights and artists involved in the development of text-based work, through performative readings; dialogue-exchanges; audio-recordings; improvisation and world-building processes, initiated and hosted by Sonia Shiel.
Sonia Shiel’s work describes psychological landscapes built on the verge of humour, sensuality and success. On the other side of the verge lies anxiety, violence and failure. The viewer’s experiences of the artist's journey through her installations is often choreographed by audio, written, or animated elements. Upcoming collaborations include the choreographing of a dance sequence towards a new installation and performance project based on the ‘Place Your Finger’ (2019) animation series.
Sonia Shiel's works synthesise object, image and sound in performative and immersive installations. Composed non-hierarchically with stage and set directions often appearing as dialogue, she writes, directs, films, animates and performs many of these manifestations, and recent work has included a series of audio-visual works with which her performance and narration interact. Throughout 2016-2018 she directed a performance ensemble convened as part of her residency at UCD, Dublin, manifesting in over 11 performances with a variety of professional actors, writers and artists involved in post-graduate studies - including Shelly Harder CA; Katie O'Byrne IR; Giri Kurichiyath, IN; Kim Dongjin, CN; Tzarini Meyler, IR; Jack McWalters, IR; Conor Moran, IR; Waki Kamino, JAP; Emiline Notari, FRA; and Verna Kokkonen, SVE. Supported by the UCD Parity Studio Artist-in-Residence Award; The Arts Council and DLRCC Artist’s Bursary Awards and The NCAD Gallery Incubation Residency Award 2017 and NCAD Dublin Gallery Weekend Event, Curated by Anne Kelly.
At their most extensive, Sonia Shiel’s installations synthesise object, image and sound to make immersive landscapes or, more particularly, territories. Taken here to mean a field or sphere of action or thought, whilst being physically identifiable as a domain or province of something, her near-sentient works inhabit the space under their own far-fetched theoretical jurisdiction. Her relationship with Law developed in 2014 when she completed the Art and Law Fellowship program at Fordham University New York, concurrently with the International Studios and Curatorial Program, New York, supported by the Arts Council Project Award.
Sonia Shiel appropriates research from other disciplines to rationalise the far-fetched narratives of her installations. In doing so she confronts their core properties of materiality and immateriality through Physics; Quack-Sciences; Metaphysics; Pataphysics; Neils Bohr; Virtual Reality, Alfred Jarry, and Science Fiction - borrowing from the fundamental representational tropes and aesthetics of common fictional territories - Cartoons; Westerns; Stage-Plays; Comedy; Game Shows; Board Games; Video Games, and Horror.
Many of Sonia Shiel’s narrative works explore the impact of real life on creative autonomy, with its procedural and bureaucratic impositions, health and safety conditions, and litigation. In her recent work, Dead Her (2018), we meet the central protagonist half-way through her life, as she undergoes treatment to attain a fuller, more meaningful smile. She tells of being confronted at each appointment by rules, and then by a younger man - who lives outside of them. Together they discover a landscape, name it, tame it and watch it swallow them whole. In a series of everyday misunderstandings with authorities and compromising factors affecting her own artistic agency, the protagonist is implicated in a real-life misdemeanor, that her authenticity as an artist might or might not absolve her from.
Sonia Shiel has exhibited throughout Ireland and in a number of international shows. She has received support and funding from the Arts Council, Culture Ireland, DCC, DLRCC, among others, as well as a number of prizes - the Hennessy Craig Award, RHA and The Tony O'Malley Award, Butler Gallery. She has participated on many residencies and research programs including most recently the NCAD Gallery Incubation Residency 2017. She is represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery and has participated as such in many international art-fairs and gallery exhibitions. Her work is in numerous private and public collections, some of which have been commissioned and/or site-specific works, and some have toured with institutional exhibitions, including The Arts Council, The Office of Public Works, The Glucksman, and the DLR Municipal Collection.
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