Sue Dolan, a mala nada na lama, Student of the Year Exhibition

7th – 23rd February 2019


Each year,  the Lavit Gallery awards a Student of the Year to a Crawford College of Art and Design graduate whose work was exemplary.

At the 2018 degree show, we selected Sue Dolan. for her work ‘a mala nada na lama’. The prize consists of an exhibition in Lavit Gallery and a cash prize which is funded by our sponsors Roberts Nathan Business Advisors, Audit and Tax.

There is no such thing as tenancy when one’s inherent rights of ownership are treated as a sport by those in power. This work looks at the liminal space between both home and body displacement and reimagines the notion of championship as revolt.

Titled a mala nada na lama, Sue Dolan’s work merges video and installation while investigating a ‘wait’ stage and considers how this period of waywardness may impact the stability of one’s sense of identity. The work also confronts the question of whether the response itself may be as landless as those in the throes of a threshold.

a mala nada na lama is a reaction to a case study of documented resistance to the displacement of a community in Rio de Janeiro due to the 2016 Olympic Games and draws transcultural parallels with women’s rights in Ireland in 2018.

This award-winning work saw Dolan being named the Lavit Gallery Student of the Year in 2018 and also won the RDS Special Award at the RDS Visual Arts Awards 2018.The Lavit Gallery will host an extended version of this work with added video and photography and will run from Thursday 7th February until Saturday 23rd February 2019.


Sue Dolan Exhibition Synopsis Guide for a mala nada na lama


This work considers the threshold state of enduring permissible displacement of tenancy; both of home and body, and the impossibility of progress when human rights are treated as a sport by those in power.

I have used a case study of the displacement of thousands from their favela in Vila Autódromo (Racetrack Village) to make way for the now-derelict Olympic stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games which in turn bankrupted the city of Rio. With today’s rampant and universal land displacement in mind, I have reimagined Vila Autódromo as a stage and have created a transcultural parallel with the void of tenancy of bodily rights for women in Ireland in 2018; part of which hung in the balance during the making of this work. I have used medical gauze to discuss the transparency of a fake healing process and the covering up of reality. I have dismantled the Olympic flag by assembling five bicycle wheel rims hung by ribbon to mimic a medal ceremony. The concrete blocks, taken from one of Cork’s last intact ghost estates in Lios na Gréine have been used as props upon which to project my video work.

The video of twenty jugs being demolished with the expelling of a milk-like substance refers both to the twenty new houses ‘won’ back by the residents of Vila Autódromo after a bloodied resistance to depict the anti-champion whist also referring to the twenty teenagers on average per month in 2017 forced to travel to the UK from Ireland for reproductive medical care.

The video of the door at sea is influenced by the poetry of Sam Beckett’s Quatre Poémes and in particular, ‘living the space of a door that opens and shuts.’

The performance video piece, entitled Autódromo, shows five figures wearing an exoskeletal-like sportsuit sculpture, each of which was derived from working with a translator to unveil some Portuguese palindrome meanings which discuss a threshold state. I am interested in the palindrome as a textual means of depicting an inbetweenness as it interweaves in and out of itself. The five ‘suits’ are multiple casts of transitory objects made from jesmonite and fibreglass hung from a bicycle lock: a door hinge, a boomerang, a pregnancy test, a telephone receiver and the subtraction of two soundwaves. The absurd sporting ‘suits’ are employed as a means to portray how self-identity can be impacted by legality, through the prism of liminality.

The title of this work, a mala nada na lama (the suitcase swims in the mud) is physicalised in a neon light piece. From a certain perspective, the neon light and mirror ‘talk’ to each other. The illuminating sign says: ‘Our rights exist neither here nor there, on no island and on no plain; we are but a suitcase swimming in the mud.’ The mirror relays this message back to us, the observer, as we stand in between and become a part of this conversation while the mirror reports back to the sign that its message has been passed on.

The fifth Lios na Gréine concrete block holds a distorted image of a suspended suitcase within its belly over which is placed a trace of the object in its originary state.

Five Swimming Caps in the colour of bone are hung alone to both other them and to reconjure the displaced human condition as a prop.