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IMMA presents an exhibition and performance by legendary artist Kim Gordon

Opening on Saturday 27 July, IMMA presents She bites her tender mind a solo exhibition by legendary multi-disciplinary artist Kim Gordon. With a career spanning more than three decades, Gordon is one of the most prolific and ground-breaking artists working today. Synonymous with the iconic band she co-founded in 1981, Sonic Youth, her work crosses boundaries between visual art, music, fashion, film, writing and performance, and insists on radical experimentation within every field.

She bites her tender mind features a series of new works including recent and previously unseen paintings, drawings, and ceramic sculptures, alongside a glitter installation and an immersive video projection.As part of the programme of events for the exhibition, on Saturday 27 July, An Evening with Kim Gordon takes centre stage in the beautiful surroundings of the IMMA Courtyard, which promises to be an intimate and unmissable event. The evening features live performances by Body/Head, an experimental electric guitar duo composed of Kim Gordon and Bill Nace; poet Elaine Kahn; and guitarist Heather Leigh. Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday 19 June at 9am. Those attending can view the exhibition prior to the performance. Food and drinks will be available to purchase on the night. Tickets €25.00 + BF at

The exhibition She bites her tender mind is a poetic response by the artist to the atmosphere and architecture of IMMA’s Courtyard Galleries. For Gordon, this series of four interconnecting rooms, each with its classical detailing, mouldings, mantles and fireplaces, ‘feels like a home of sorts’. A seasoned traveller, Gordon has drawn upon the domestic sensibility of these galleries as an analogy for contemporary urban lodgings, such as Airbnb or Homestay. There can be a certain dislocation and alienation within these faux homes away from home. Gordon wonders about the experience of morphing one’s own reality with these idealised, commercialised lifestyles. At IMMA, she suggests an imagined scenario where the galleries have become her own branded urban lodgings, decorated with lyrical gestures, with one of the new drawings on display taken from Gordon’s Airbnb Series.

The new and recent paintings in the exhibition also contain references to the prolific ancient Greek poet Sappho. Renowned as a symbol of desire and love between women, Sappho’s work continues to influence writers and artists today. The exhibition itself, together with one of the featured new works, takes its title from one of the poet’s word fragments ‘She bites her tender mind’. Several of these paintings see Gordon continuing her research about the body in a feminist reconsideration, where she uses materials such as metallic ink, interference pigments and tracing papers in gestural works. Gordon describes her uniquely visceral approach to creating this exhibition and the effect of her imagined scenario, “I wanted to feel Sappho and make physical manifestations about her in sort of a daydreaming meditation; to make myself into her. Similarly, I try to locate or imagine myself within an Airbnb… Waking up in a strange place to strange art as decoration”.

Alongside these new and recent works, other pieces within the exhibition draw from various series Gordon has produced since 2008. These include the ongoing Noise Painting series, depicting the names of experimental and noise groups; the From The Boyfriend series that use denim mini-skirts as paint surfaces turned on their sides and presented as minimalist art; and word paintings that refer to ‘hashtag culture’. The word paintings here also serve as a comment on other artworks around them.

An insistence on dismantling the hierarchical sanctity of the object has become a through line in Gordon’s practice, and in previous work, canvases were treated with direct application of paints, resins, glitters and fiberglass, as well as physical manipulation. Performing a painting becomes its own medium, as finished works are crumpled, overturned and flung. Fixed between states of decomposition and recomposition, battle scars from past performances become gestural abstraction via mischievous punk irreverence.


For further information and images please contact

Monica Cullinane E: [email protected] T: +353 (0)1 6129922

Patrice Mollloy E: [email protected] T:+353 (0)1 6129920


Image caption: Kim Gordon / Proposal For a Dance, 2008 – 2010 / DVD, TRT: 12 minute / Dimensions variable / @ the artist / Image courtesy, 303 Gallery, New York


Additional Notes for Editors


Kim Gordon, She bites her tender mind
27 July – 10 November 2019

Admission is free

About the artist

Kim Gordon studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in the late 1970s and has continued to work as an artist since. Her first solo exhibition presented under the name ‘Design Office’ took place at New York’s White Columns in 1981. For the past thirty years Gordon has worked consistently across disciplines and across distinct cultural fields: art, design, writing, fashion (XGirl), music (Sonic Youth, Free Kitten, Body/Head), and film/video (both as actress and director).

Gordon’s artworks include the ongoing ‘Noise Painting’ series, depicting the names of experimental and noise groups; a series of paintings depicting the names of contemporary galleries and gallery owners; works from the untitled ‘From The Boyfriend’ series – Rorschach-like images painted on used denim skirts; ‘Twitter Paintings’ sourced from the Twitter streams of ‘GIRLS’ producer Jenni Konner, critic Jerry Saltz, and artist Richard Prince among others; and her ‘Wreath Paintings’, which employ the decorative folk forms as stencils to produce vertiginous colour abstractions. An insistence on dismantling the hierarchical sanctity of the object has become a through line in Gordon’s practice, and in her most recent work, canvases are treated with direct application of paints, resins, glitters and fiberglass, as well as physical manipulation. Performing a painting becomes its own medium, as finished works are crumpled, overturned and flung. Fixed between states of de- and re-composition, battle scars from past performances become gestural abstraction via mischievous punk irreverence.

Recent selected exhibitions include in 2017 Kim Gordon & Rodney Graham, L’Académie Conti, Dijon, France; in 2016 Manifesta 11, Zurich, Switzerland; 2015 Noise Name Paintings And Sculptures Of Rock Bands That Are Broken Up, Benaki Museum / Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece Design Office: The City Is A Garden, 303 Gallery, New York; All Instruments Agree: an exhibition or a concert, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. In 2014 Coming Soon, Design Office, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles; 1NVERSIONS with Nick Mauss, Frieze Projects, London; in 2013 Design Office with Kim Gordon – 1980, White Columns, New York and in 2012 Karen Kilimnik & Kim Gordon, 303 Gallery, New York and in 2009 Sonic Youth ETC.: Sensational Fix, (Traveling exhibition) MUSEION, Bolzano; Kunsthalle Dusseldorf; Malmo Kunsthalle; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid.

A full talks programme will accompany She bites her tender mind, please check for details.



An Evening with Kim Gordon

with performers Body/Head, Heather Leigh and Elaine Kahn in the IMMA Courtyard

Saturday 27 July, 19.00 – 22.00
Tickets €25.00, on sale Wednesday 19 June at 9am from www,

Those attending can view the exhibition She bites her tender mind prior to the performance (limited capacity). Food and drinks will be available to purchase on the night.

Note: Please be advised this is an outdoor event, while we hope for sunshine, please dress appropriate to the weather. Please note our 17th-century courtyard has a cobbled surface appropriate footwear is advised.


About the Performers

Body/Head – The Switch

Creative alchemy doesn’t just happen in the studio or in the practice space; so much of it is the product of solo time with one’s instrument, learning how body and wood and electronics fuse, and of subconscious processes as one lives one’s daily life—picking up the ambient noise of the world outside, listening to others’ work, talking through ideas with friends. For Kim Gordon and Bill Nace, time together these days is limited to live performances and recording, so they’ve got to bring all their magic to every encounter. Lucky for us, these are two experimental sorcerers of significant renown.

Their debut album together as Body/Head, Coming Apart, from 2013, was more of a rock record—heavy, emotional, cathartic, spellwork in shades of black and grey. The Switch is their second studio full-length, and it finds the duo working with a more subtle palette, refining their ideas and identity. Some of it was sketched out live (if you’ve not had the fortune of seeing them in that natural environment yet, see 2016’s improvisational document No Waves), but much of it happened purely in the moment. Working in the same studio and with the same producer as Coming Apart, here Body/Head stretch out, making spacious pieces that build shivering drones, dissonant interplay, Gordon’s manipulated vocals, and scraping, haunting textures into something that feels both delicate and dangerous. Less discrete songs than one composition broken up into thematic movements, a slow-moving narrative that requires as much attention and care from the listener as it did from everyone involved in its creation, it is a record that sticks around after it’s done playing.This is Nace’s favorite of Gordon’s guitar work; she’s truly come into her own as a guitarist, having built up her confidence through solo shows. The way the duo work together, you’d never know they spend so much time apart; on The Switch, their vision and focus feel truly unified. If Coming Apart was dark magic, The Switch works with light, though it never forgets that these approaches are two sides of the same coin, and that binaries—black/white, near/far, emotion/analysis, body/head—are made to be broken open, and that the truth of things is in the energy between.

Jes Skolnik, May 2018


Heather Leigh

The daughter of a coal miner, weaving a trail from West Virginia to Texas to Scotland where she’s lived for over a decade, Heather Leigh furthers the vast unexplored reaches of pedal steel guitar. Her playing is as physical as it is phantom, combining spontaneous compositions with industrially-charged psychedelic rock. With a rare combination of sensitivity and strength, Leigh’s steel mainlines sanctified slide guitar and deforms it using hypnotic tone-implosions, juggling walls of bleeding amp tone with choral vocal constructs and wrenching single note ascensions. 2015’s critically acclaimed I Abused Animal (Ideologic Organ) was a turning point, a breakthrough album that marked her first venture into professional studio recording. Throne (Editions Mego) is her latest achievement, an album of punch-drunk desire clouded by peripheral danger. After the rawness of its precursor, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; a suite of alluring heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. Leigh’s work explores themes of glamour, abuse, sexual instinct, desire, romance, vulnerability, memory, shadow, fantasy, jealousy, cruelty, delusion, deception and projection.

In addition to her work as a solo artist, Heather Leigh has worked extensively with a long list of unique collaborators, most recently with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. The duo have released four highly idiosyncratic albums: Ears Are Filled With Wonder, Sex Tape, Crowmoon and their most recent LP, Sparrow Nights on Trost Records.

Heather Leigh’s albums have been met with widespread critical acclaim and coverage in The Wire Magazine, FACT Mag, MOJO, Uncut, The Guardian, The Quietus, The New York Times, Pitchfork, Tiny Mix Tapes, Dusted, Spex, Magnet, Rolling Stone, Vice, Brainwashed, Blow Up, The List and many more.

Known for her captivating live performances, Leigh’s songs come into vivid life on stage. She has performed across the globe throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, USA and Mexico, playing venues/festivals including Cafe OTO, Red Bull Music Festival, Moers, Donau, Le Guess Who, Tectonics, ATP, Supernormal, Supersonic, TUSK, Issue Project Room, Tate Britain, Jazzhouse Copenhagen, A L’ARME! Festival, Dundee Contemporary Arts, South London Gallery, Colour Out Of Space, iDEALFEST, Islington Mill, CCA Glasgow, Edition Festival Stockholm, St Johns Sessions, Le Weekend Festival, The Art Institute of Chicago and many more.

Heather Leigh is published by Mute Song. Heather Leigh is a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Award


Elaine Kahn

Elaine Kahn is the author of Women in Public (City Lights Publishers, 2015) and Romance or The End (forthcoming from Soft Skull Press). Writing has appeared in Frieze, The Brooklyn Rail, jubilat, Poetry FoundationArt Papers, and elsewhere. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Pomona College and the Poetry Field School. She lives in Los Angeles, California.


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.