The 16th edition of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts will be curated by Linda Shelvin.

‘Syntonic State’ takes dual cues from Galway’s merchant and mariner histories, and from the concept of nostalgia, with its cultural links to revelry and hedonism. The comfort we take in looking to the past – particularly during times of political and social crisis – forms the premise for multiple artistic responses.

Initially founded as a military base and urban site offering sanctuary to early colonists, Galway – derived from the Gaelic Gaillimh, meaning ‘Town of Strangers’ – ultimately became a settlement of foreign freemen. These historical developments arguably influenced the social and cultural diversity for which Galway has since become renowned. Thus, burgeoning trade routes and increased commerce influenced the evolution of Galway as a city, creating a newly-formed social stratum  – that of the merchant classes.

Introduced in the seventeenth century, the term nostalgia denoted a common condition among Swiss mercenaries, who displayed symptoms of extreme homesickness, sentimental longing, or wistful affection for the past. Described then as a “disorder of the imagination”,  nostalgia is now viewed as an emotion, rather than a physical condition. However, nostalgia does not always concern the past; it can be retrospective but also prospective. For many twentieth-century societies – including cultures that were globally displaced, marginalised from the cultural mainstream, or forged by eccentric traditions – a creative rethinking of nostalgia was not merely an artistic device, but a survival strategy. Such processes sought to make sense of the stateless condition, the impossibility of a homecoming, or a return to the halcyon days of a bygone era. This sense of grappling with displacement creates a desire to find one’s place in the world; to be ‘culturally syntonic’ – a psychology term denoting a person who is emotionally in harmony with their environment.

A contemporary wave of nostalgic revelry forms part of a continuum of nostalgic discourse that replicates itself until its signifiers exist without true recollection of the original. A certain aesthetic style speaks of a kind of nostalgia that is, even momentarily, entirely ahistorical. It is capable of being consumed independently of any emotional investment in the times and places to which the style alludes. In turn, nostalgia becomes a powerful political device. The fear and anger of those who feel most aggrieved by rapid change or loss continue to redefine the political landscape.

As stated by Russian scholar, Svetlana Boym, “the most common currency of the globalism exported all over the world is money and popular culture. Nostalgia too is a feature of global culture, but it demands a different currency.” Boym goes on to assert that the key terms defining globalism were in fact invented by poets and philosophers: “progress was coined by Immanuel Kant; the noun modernity is a creation of Charles Baudelaire; and virtual reality was first imagined by Henri Bergson, not Bill Gates”. Syntonic State will assemble a diverse array of artistic responses aimed at recontextualising history, as a vehicle for understanding the present moment.

Open Call Process & Guidelines:

TULCA is curated through invited artistic participation and an Open Call process. The final selection of artworks will be based on thematic connection, artistic quality, and feasibility.

Please send a single PDF attachment that includes the following material:

(Items 1 – 4 are obligatory)

  1. A concise artist’s statement (max 200 words)
  2. CV (max 2 pages)
  3. Max 5 examples of existing work you feel are appropriate to the festival thematic. Artists working in 3D are encouraged to apply. Each image of existing work must include the title, its dimensions, the material/medium, the date and your name, and also information on where the work has been shown, if applicable). Web links to up to 2 video works can be sent, accessible on either YouTube or Vimeo – you must include passwords for any private videos, and works longer than 5′ must be abridged.
  4. Examples of previous work (no more than 10 images; each image of existing work must include the title, its dimensions, the material/medium, the date and your name, and also information on where the work has been shown, if applicable). Web links to up to 2 video works can be sent, accessible on either YouTube or Vimeo – you must include passwords for any private videos, and works longer than 5′ must be abridged.
  5. Where new work is being proposed please include a clear outline text not to exceed 250 words. Please include any sketches or visualisations in the PDF document, and any available information on costings, materials, and venue requirements etc.
  6. Deadline: May 31st
  7. There is no submission fee
  8. Applications should be submitted via email to opencall@tulcafestival.com

Notes for Applicants:

  • TULCA is a focused visual arts festival with limited resources, so please bear this in mind in developing your proposal.  
  • TULCA typically takes place across a range of art and non-art venues, such as Galway Arts Centre, Nuns Island Theatre, University Hospital, 126 Artist Run Gallery and off-site locations. If you develop a proposal for a specific location or context, we cannot guarantee its availability or feasibility. We encourage artists to take a flexible approach in this regard, allowing for a variety of options and remaining open to discussion with the Curator.
  • We will acknowledge the receipt of all applications. Selected artists will be notified no later than June 30th.  
  • TULCA reserve the right to photograph works and to use elements of accepted entries for exhibition for publicity purposes, unless the artist expressly states the contrary in writing. Copyright of all work remains the property of the artist.
  • All artists are invited to apply, but artists living and working in Ireland will be prioritised in the Open Call selection process.

For any further queries please contact Festival Producer at info@tulcafestival.com