Exhibition feature archival material, photographs and found objects
Developed within the context of EVA International, Ireland’s art biennale, an iteration of Stigma Damages was presented. Exhibition curator Merve Elveren has written:
A native of Askeaton, Michele Horrigan has long observed the environmental impact of the Aughinish Alumina Refinery on the Shannon River estuary. Built by a Canadian conglomerate in 1983, and now owned by a Russian consortium, the refinery imports mineral ore bauxite from Guinea and Brazil, and converts it to powder alumina to be exported worldwide for aluminium production. It has been subject to criticism for years due to tell-tale signs of industrial pollution around the estuary. In addition to investigating these circumstances and the aftermath of unregulated industrialisation in the region, Horrigan’s Stigma Damages proposes a non-chronological reading of the history of this ‘strong yet light’ material. Through a variety of mediums, Horrigan articulates how – from the nineteenth century onwards – the story of aluminium was repeatedly reconstructed along the lines of class, gender, ecology, value, and power.
For the 39th EVA International’s Guest Programme Little did they know, Horrigan’s installation Stigma Damages expands to Sailors Home and Hunt Museum’s Jewellery Gallery. The Sailor’s Home installment of the work dwells on the Rusal Aughinish complex – the largest industrial site in Ireland and Europe’s busiest refinery. Various archival documents and imagery trace the growing presence of the industry onsite with an overview of what is locally known as ‘the red field,’ a continually growing 350-acre site of leftover hazardous waste. Hunt Museum’s Jewellery Gallery installment offers an alternative societal view of the metal. Rock salvaged during a visit to the first open bauxite quarry in southern France, a replica of the aluminium top of the Washington Monument and harrowing headlines of the industry’s environmental impact in Limerick are among the ‘specimens’ presented.