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IMMA is excited to present Scene of the Myth, a major solo exhibition by artist Sarah Pierce

Sarah Pierce, Lost Illusions / Illusion perdues, 2014, video still

IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) is delighted to present Scene of the Myth, a major solo exhibition by artist Sarah Pierce opening on Friday 24 March 2023. Guest curated by Rike Frank and the European Kunsthalle, this expansive exhibition consists of performances, videos, large-scale installations, and archives. 

Sarah Pierce, who lives and works in Dublin, relocated to Ireland from the US in 2000. Rike Frank has brought together 12 works, spanning 20 years, to highlight patterns of making and thinking that define Pierce’s art practice. Born out of relationships between narratives we reproduce and those we wish to leave behind, Scene of the Myth, asks what it means to gather, reflect and act in community.

The title of the exhibition stems from one of Pierce’s essays in which the artist describes social infrastructures, such as academies and museums, as moments through which the narratives and conventions of a historical past are re-constituted in the present. The scene of the myth is not an actual location; it is an occasion where knowledges, both inherited and invented, come to play. The exhibition is one such occasion.

A key to the curatorial work is the potential for open doorways and unblocked windows to mark out specific “scenes” in and around Pierce’s practice: Institutes and Protests, Legacies and Exercises, Communities and Migrations.

The exhibition features a significant selection of projects with students, who appear as performers, demonstrators, and interlocutors, including An Artwork in the Third Person (2009), a set of interviews made with the Dutch Art Institute; Campus (2011), a performance that mirrors communal acts such as teaching, learning, and political protest; and The Square (2017), an experimental “play without a script” that uses Bertolt Brecht’s Lehrstück – or learning play – as a starting point. Pierce will involve student groups in the re-learning and re-staging of key performance works at intervals throughout the exhibition.

Over the last years, Sarah Pierce has developed a concept she names the “community of the exhibition” to describe how exhibitions have a particular ability to hold us, and works of art, in community. We enter the exhibition with others – other audiences, across generations, geographies and times. The exhibition includes artworks that bring to the fore this ongoing and discerning interest in community’s tenuous and unavowable bonds, whether it is the community of dementia in No Title (2017), the community of diaspora in Pathos of Distance (2015), or the community of translation in The Question Would Be The Answer To The Question, Are You Happy? (2009-12).

27 February 2023

– ENDS –

For further information and images please contact:

Patrice Molloy | [email protected]

Monica Cullinane | [email protected]

Additional Notes for Editors

Exhibition Details

Title: Sarah Pierce: Scene of the Myth

Exhibition Dates: 24 March – 3 September 2023

Admission free, book online at
Open: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10am – 5.30pm. Wednesday: 11.30am – 5.30pm. Sunday: 12noon – 5.30pm. Bank Holiday Mondays: 12noon – 5.30pm

Artists Talk
Thurs 23 March at 5.30pm
The artist Sarah Pierce and guest curator Rike Frank in conversation as part of the opening reception of Scene of the Myth.

Curators Lunchtime Talk
Fri 21 April at 1.15pm with Rachael Gilbourne, Assistant Curator, IMMA

Live Artworks
A number of Sarah Pierce’s artworks within Scene of the Myth involve live elements. Performers include a core group of students and recent graduates selected from a national open call, as well as other groups. Open rehearsals and performances of the artworks – Campus (2011), Levitating in the Nauman (2014), and Future Exhibitions (2013) – take place at intervals in the galleries and across the wider Museum. The Square (2015) engages groups of Transition Year students at moments throughout the duration of the exhibition. Shelter Bread & Freedom (2021) includes an afternoon of live readings in the shelter at the People’s Flower Garden, Phoenix Park, Dublin, on 3 September 2023. For details visit

Paraeducation Department:

In 2004, Sarah Pierce and Annie Fletcher developed the Paraeducation Department as a way to think about the knowledge that a community brings into the Museum. As a counter-balance to the Museum’s education and exhibition programmes, Paraeducation has no audience or agenda. It values gathering as an act and an end in itself. The room is available to book for self-organised activities, reading groups, and exchanges not programmed by the Museum, every Wednesday and Friday, 11am–1pm and 2–4pm.   

Dementia-Inclusive Programming:

To coincide with Sarah Pierce’s artwork No Title (2017) in the exhibition, people living with dementia and their family members or carers are invited to participate in a series of art-making ‘exercises’ developed by Pierce. The person living with dementia and their carer, as a community of two, are guided by a facilitator, encouraging each participant to alternately lead and follow as they explore what emerges together. A dementia-inclusive Azure tour of Scene of the Myth will take place on Friday 5 May at 11am.

For Dementia-Inclusive Programming, if you or someone you know would like to participate, contact [email protected] or 016129914 for more information.

 IMMA International Summer School 2023, Art and Politics, #5 Assembly
19 – 30 June
In 2023, the annual IMMA International Summer School focuses on the theme of ‘assembly’. This intensive programme of online engagements includes seminars, discussions and workshops. Featuring a range of national and international artists, theorists and educators including Sarah Pierce, Ahmet Öğüt, Eva Weinmayr and Florian Malzacher, this year’s Summer School will overlap and intersect with Scene of the Myth in significant ways. The Summer School has a global reach, offering a free, accessible platform for participants from all over the world.

For full programme dates, details and tickets, visit

All talks and events are free admission but ticketed unless otherwise stated.

About the Artist

Since 2003, Sarah Pierce has used the term The Metropolitan Complex to describe her project, characterised by forms of gathering, both historical examples and those she initiates. The processes of research and presentation that she undertakes demonstrate a broad understanding of cultural work and a continual renegotiation of the terms for making art, the potential for dissent, and self-determination. Pierce works with installation, performance, archives, talks and papers, often opening these up to the personal and the incidental in ways that challenge received histories and accepted forms. Her interests include radical pedagogies and student work, art historical legacies and figures such as El Lissitzky, August Rodin, and Eva Hesse, and theories of community and love founded in Maurice Blanchot and Georges Bataille.

Pierce’s work has shown widely in the EU, US and Canada with major exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2016), CCS Hessel Museum & CCS Galleries, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson (2016 and 2012), and Tate Modern and MuMOK Vienna (2010). In 2014 she presented a major solo exhibition in three-parts, Lost Illusions/Illusions perdues, developed jointly with Walter Phillips Gallery Banff AL, Mercer Union Toronto ON, and SBC Galerie Montreal QB. Other solo presentations include: No Title at the Centre of Contemporary Art, Derry (2017); The Meaning of Greatness at Project Arts Centre (2006). She has participated in major international biennials including Glasgow International (2018), Eva International (2016, 2012), Lyon Biennial (2011), International Sinop Biennial (2010), Moscow Biennial (2007), and in 2005, Pierce represented Ireland in a group exhibition at the 51st Venice Biennale.

Publications on her work include No Title,co-edited with Sara Greavu, published by CCA Derry, and designed by Kaisa Lassinaro with essays by T.J. Clark, Karl Holmqvist, Mason Leaver-Yap, and Claire Potter; and Sketches of Universal History Compiled from Several Authors,edited by Rike Frank,published by Book Works, London and designed by Peter Maybury with essays by Melissa Gronlund, Tom Holert, Barbara Clausen, Declan Long, and Padraíc E. Moore. Pierce regularly writes and has chapters in many publications, most recently in,Of(f) Our Times: The Aftermath of the Ephemeral and other Curatorial Anachronics (Sternberg 2019).

Pierce was born in Connecticut in 1968 and grew up in Ontario before attending university in Los Angeles. In 1994, she completed her MFA at Cornell University in the School of Architecture, Art and Planning, and in 1995 she attended the Whitney Program in New York. In 2000 she moved to Dublin where she continues to work and live.

About the Guest Curator
Rike Frank works as a curator and writer and teaches exhibition histories and curatorial practice. She is Executive Director of the Berlin Artistic Research Grant Programme, as well as co-director of the European Kunsthalle. Her practice often reflects on temporality, textility as well as instituting and the documentation of curatorial articulations. Past institutional affiliations include Associate Professor of Exhibition Studies at the Academy of Fine Art of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts/KHIO (2014–2018); head of the exhibition space at Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig (2012–2014); member of the Artistic Program team, European Kunsthalle (2010–2012); Curator, Secession, Vienna (2001–2005); head of the Curatorial Office, documenta 12 (2007). Publications as editor and co-editor include Of(f) Our Times. Curatorial Anachronics (2019), Ane Hjort Guttu. Writings, Conversations, Scripts (2018), Textiles: Open Letter (2015), Textile Theorien der Moderne. Alois Riegl in der Kunstkritik (2015), Timing – On the Temporal Dimension of Exhibiting (2014), and Sketches of Universal History: Compiled from Several Authors by Sarah Pierce (2013).

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.