The weakened eye of day, is a new body of work by Irish artist Isabel Nolan, conceived as a single project for IMMA. The exhibition explores how light manifests as a metaphor in our thoughts, obsessions and pursuits and includes text, sculpture, drawings and textiles. Nolan’s works begin with the close scrutiny of individual literary or artistic works, or evolve out of consciously erratic enquiries into the aesthetics of diverse fields, such as cosmology, humoral theory, and illuminated manuscripts.
The exhibition takes its title from Thomas Hardy’s poem The Darkling Thrush (1899), in which the sun, described as ‘the weakening eye of day', is a dismal star drained of its force by a gloomy pre-centennial winter afternoon. As the sun’s gaze weakens, so flags the spirit of the poet who, until interrupted by birdsong, sees only the inevitability of death in the cold world around him. This show is a material account of the strangeness of the world from the formation of the planet’s crust to the death of the sun and the enduring preoccupation with light as a metaphor for truth.
Nolan’s works both seduce and disarm us. Her work is underpinned by a desire to examine and capture in material form the moments of intensity that can define our encounters with the objects around us; inexplicable and unsettling moments that leave us with a heightened awareness of what is means to be alive. For Nolan this exploration happens through making things – whether monumental or intimate in scale, they are presented to us as tentative and precarious markers of the experience of our place beneath the sun.
Isabel Nolan’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Unmade’, the Return Gallery, Goethe Institut, Dublin (2012) and ‘A hole into the future’, The Model, Sligo (2011–12), which travelled to the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne, France (2012). Nolan was one of seven artists who represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale in a group exhibition, 'Ireland at Venice 2005'. Recent group shows include ‘Nouvelle Vague’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); ‘Sculptrices’, Villa Datris, Fondation pour la Sculpture Contemporain, France (2013); ‘Modern Families’, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2013).
Thanks to the Donkey Sanctuary irl. Liscarroll, Mallow. Co. Cork. for their assistance.
Isabel Nolan: The Three Body Problem
'Three bodies rising' Isabel Nolan, 2013, watercolour on paper, 42 x 29.5 cm.
Writing is an important tool for Isabel Nolan, and in parallel with the exhibition Isabel Nolan: The weakened eye of day, she has written a text which exists as an audio work, published online from 1 July 2014. This audio work, along with a series of talks by guests on subjects ranging from cosmology to philosophy, forms an integral part of the on-going investigative enquiries that inform The weakened eye of day and Nolan’s practice.
The Three Body Problem is an episodic fiction that portrays a world orbited by three suns. In this world where night rarely falls, art, science, language and knowledge are recognizable, yet play utterly different histories and roles than in our own society. Nolan uses this to reflect upon our relationship to light as a means by which the world is framed. She provides an opportunity to reveal the contingency not only of our own world, but also of our myriad ways of knowing and being in it.
The Three Body Problem Cast List Female Narrator Ali White Male Narrator Aonghus Og McAnally Copernijk Arthur Riordan Keith Johanson Arthur Riordan Anna Grey Barbara Brennan Louise Dagur Eimear Morrissey
Dr Stuart Clark: The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth Astronomer and Author Dr Stuart Clark opened Isabel Nolan's exhibition with a talk on how the universe is the canvas upon which nature paints its pictures. Click here to listen
Astronomers are there to witness, record and understand these amazing celestial phenomena. From the giant aurora of 1859 that engulfed two thirds of the Earth to Galileo's simple observation that there are mountains on the Moon, Stuart Clark will tell the story of how single observations have transformed our view of the Universe and our place within it. A closing discussion was moderated by Lorraine Hanlon (Associate Professor, School of Physics, UCD). This talk took place on Saturday 7 June, 1.00pm 2014, at IMMA
Gallery walk through of the exhibition by Karen Sweeney (Assistant Curator, Exhibitions, IMMA) In the form of a gallery walk through Sweeney introduced some of the artist's key ideas that inform her current exhibition. This talk took place on Wednesday 6 August 1.15pm, East Ground Gallery. Click here to listen
Talks and Events
As part of the exhibition there is a series of talks by guests, invited by Nolan, on subjects ranging from cosmology, philosophy and aesthetics.
Lecture | Stuart Clark presents The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth Saturday 7 June, 1.00pm, Lecture Room Award winning author and astronomer, Dr Stuart Clark tells the story of how single observations by astronomers have transformed our view of the universe and our place within it. Listen back to this talk on Soundcloud
Lunchtime Talk |Dr. Michael Dunne Friday 27 June 1.15pm, Lecture Room, IMMA Medieval and Renaissance Science, Religion, and Nature’s Secrets Dr. Michael Dunne (Head, Department of Philosophy, NUI Maynooth) introduces the overlapping areas of science, religion, and medicine in medieval and renaissance thought with reference to some key figures including Giordano Bruno and others that form part of his research on the philosophy of God, science and Ireland’s medieval philosophical heritage. Listen back to this talk on Soundcloud
Gallery Talk | Karen Sweeney Wednesday 6 August 1.15pm, East Ground Gallery Karen Sweeney (Assistant Curator, Exhibitions, IMMA) discusses a selection of works featured in Isabel Nolan's exhibition. Listen back to this talk on Soundcloud
In Conversation | Isabel Nolan + Sally O Reilly Wednesday 27 August 6.00pm, Lecture Room Isabel Nolan discusses her artistic approach for the current exhibition The Weakened Eye of Day with Sally O Reilly (writer for art and culture publications, including Art Monthly, Cabinet and Frieze). Listen back to this talk on Soundcloud
Seminar | Art in the Contemporary Universe IMMA+ MA Art in the Contemporary World, NCAD Saturday 20 September, 3.00pm - 5.00pm, 2014, Lecture Room This seminar explores realms of science, aesthetics and philosophy, and what Italo Calvino calls the ‘overambitious projects’ in contemporary culture, narratives in science and the cosmological turn in recent philosophy. Chaired by Paul Ennis and Declan Long (Lecturers, MA Art in the Contemporary World, NCAD, Dublin). Listen back to this talk on Soundcloud
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