Laura Sheeran, Katie Kim and Donal Dineen at “Dublin Contemporary”.

The first serious attempt at curating an international, contemporary art exhibition was held in Dublin during the months of September and October under the banner Dublin Contemporary. The most spectacular aspect of which was its commandeering of an entire wing of the NCH in Earlsfort Terrace. Scores of unloved rooms on three floors in the otherwise august edifice were used as self-contained exhibition spaces and for pop-up events, one of which, memorably, brought the exhibition to a close at Halloween.

Who Are You? Vol 2 was curated by DJ and film maker Donal Dineen, and attending it appropriately enough felt a bit like stepping back in time and into one of the less salubrious if more productive corners of Andy Warhol’s Factory, circa 1967. Musicians, artists, film makers and general hipsters gathered in an air of conviviality and studied nonchalance to casually if carefully manufacture magic. It could so very easily have been hopelessly cringe-inducing. Unusually, it was quietly spectacular.

For a couple of hours three solo musicians serenaded us one after the other, as painter Guillermo Carrion and visual artist Hector Castells ably assisted by Dineen projected a collage of gently evolving images made up of a combination of stills, video and an oil painting that was being worked on live at the back of the room. First up of the musicians was Laura Sheeran.

Sheeran produces a live show that demands to be seen. Veering dangerously close at times to parody, she injects an intensity into her live shows that gives them a genuinely hypnotic air. 500 years ago she’d have been burnt at the stake by now. And it would be easy to mistake what you see as gimmicky. But as soon as you hear the sounds she produces, it’s impossible not to be drawn in. You can’t fake that kind of passion.

Although she hasn’t yet quite managed to capture that eerie energy on disc, the album she released earlier this year, Lust of Pig and the Fresh Blood at http://www.laurasheeran.com/ is, nonetheless, a wonderfully atmospheric work that bores its way in to the back of your brain, where it nestles quietly nudging you.

Katie Kim, who was next up, has had no difficulty in translating the magic of her live performances onto disc. Mazzy Star meets Coco Rosie though never fey, she manages to project both confidence and vulnerability. Technically accomplished and emotionally engaging live, she’s already succeeded in reproducing that sound on her previous album, Twelve at http://katiekim.bandcamp.com/album/twelve and the forth coming Cover&Flood is one of the most keenly awaited albums of the autumn. Kim is the real deal. Nb.

Finally, Sean Mac Erlaine, Sean Óg as he’s been performing under for much of the last decade (http://www.sean-og.com/), brought the evening to a suitably quiet if intense close, with some unashamedly difficult, horn-based free-jazz. All three musicians made brilliantly inventive use of amplified distortion to their own very different ends. The results were never less than memorable, and at times, magical.

But then that’s hardly surprising. The whole thing was put on by Donal Dineen. Dineen has by now educated, informed and entertained an entire generation of music lovers with infectious erudition and generosity first on No Disco, and then for 17 years on Today FM. At the end of November, the latter are letting him walk away. One can only assume that someone in Montrose will have the good sense to grab hold of him and install him in RTE, preferably on Lyric. The idea of not being able to tune in to Dineen somewhere on the airwaves is unthinkable.

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  1. […] pop-up event curated by Donal Dineen at last year’s Dublin Con­tem­po­rary, which I reviewed here […]

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