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Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd Launches IMMA’s Programme for National Concert Hall and Royal Hospital Sites

An exhibition from IMMA’s Collection engaging with scientific themes in celebration of Dublin City of Science 2012; the  famous Ned Kelly paintings by the renowned Australian artist Sidney Nolan; a mid-career retrospective of the work of leading Irish artist Alice Maher, and a series of lectures on major developments in architecture to mark its tenure at the NCH site, are all part of wide-ranging programme being presented throughout 2012 by the Irish Museum of Modern Art and announced today (Thursday 29 March) by Fergus O’Dowd, TD, Minister of State with Responsibility for the NewERA Project, in the National Concert Hall. The 2012 programme also includes a film work inspired by the siege of Sarajevo by Albanian artist Anri Sala; an ambitious project by prominent Irish artist Garrett Phelan, involving the bell ringers of Christchurch and St Patrick’s Cathedrals; and a Neil Jordan film installation based on Samuel Beckett’s play Not I. The exhibitions and associated events are being presented across the NCH and RHK sites, due to the closure of the main building in Kilmainham for major refurbishment works during 2012.

Speaking at the launch of the programme in the NCH, Minister O’Dowd said: “This exciting programme offers an ideal opportunity to showcase this prime city centre location. Today’s announcement is only the beginning of what will prove to be an innovative and stimulating programme. The fact that these diverse and engaging exhibitions will be spread across two wonderful and contrasting sites both here in Earlsfort Terrace and the Royal Hospital sites will ensure that IMMA’s 2012 programme can be enjoyed and accessed by a much wider audience.” 

Exhibitions – IMMA @ NCH

The programme at the NCH begins on 31 May with two contrasting exhibitions. In the ground floor spaces in the main building IMMA will present Time out of Mind, drawn from the Museum’s own Collection. Taking its location in the former UCD Medical School as its starting point, the exhibition explores connections between the worlds of art and science to mark Dublin City of Science 2012. Exhibition-making from a collection creates its own particular temporality; revealing new qualities and relationships in and among a selected group of artworks, while also recalling past associations. Time out of Mind focuses on the many and varied ways in which individual artists have engaged with time, space, perception, change and similar concepts. The exhibition, which is kindly sponsored by Dublin City of Science 2012, presents the work of 30 leading Irish and international artists, including Dorothy Cross, Grace Weir, Marcel Duchamp, Isaac Julian and Cristina Iglesias. An important work by Tacita Dean is being loan from the Crawford Art Gallery collection for the exhibition.

Alongside Time out of Mind, a collaborative film project entitled 1395 Days Without Red, by Albanian artist Anri Sala and American composer Ari Benjamin Meyers, will occupy the Annex at the NCH. The film takes as its subject the siege of Sarajevo, which lasted for 1,395 days between 1992 and 1996. We see the horror of this situation through the eyes of an elegant young woman as she makes her way through an empty city, along what came to be known as Sniper Alley. She is given the courage to carry on by hearing in her head excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, being played by the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra, which had continued to perform throughout the siege.

This will be followed on 1 August by another film-based project Not I, a strikingly original multi-screen film installation directed by Neil Jordan and based on the play of the same name by Samuel Beckett. It features American actress Julianne Moore in the role originally made famous in the legendary stage performance by Billie Whitelaw. The camera focuses only on the actress’s mouth, which is shown from multiple angles delivering a stream of consciousness monologue.  The work, which was part of the celebrated Beckett on Film project, was donated to IMMA by Neil Jordan in 2000.

Also at the NCH from October we will have Becoming, a mid-career retrospective of the work of Alice Maher, one of Ireland’s most respected and influential visual artists. Including painting, sculpture, photography and animation, the exhibition will present a number of Maher’s seminal works, such as Berry Dress, 1994 and Familiar, 1995. The title Becoming points to some of the artist’s main preoccupations and to the themes that will be explored in the exhibition. It indicates a point of transformation, where something becomes something else. Maher’s work has always placed itself at this nexus, a point of metamorphosis as states shift and the familiar becomes otherworldly or unknown – where the inappropriate and the unacceptable are constantly called into play.

Exhibitions – IMMA @ RHK

Meanwhile in the New Galleries at the Royal Hospital, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection continues until 20 May. This exhibition documents the evolution of photography since the 1850s and presents the work of some of the most notable photographers of the 19th and 20th-centuries. These are displayed so as to create “conversations” – between images by individual artists and also across a wide range of themes, such as portraits, landscapes and abstraction.

Following on from this and beginning on 21 June is NEW FAITH LOVE SONG by prominent Irish artist Garrett Phelan, whose distinctive art practice embraces a wide spectrum of media. This ambitious project, commissioned by former IMMA Director Enrique Juncosa, involves Phelan working with the bell ringers from both Christchurch Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral to create a live dialogue between these two iconic religious monuments. Taking place on Mid-Summer’s Evening (21 June) it is designed to signal the arrival of New Faith, which follows a loss of faith and period of faithlessness. The project is accompanied by a site-specific installation in the New Galleries.

From 24 October, the New Galleries will present Sidney Nolan: Ned Kelly Series, by the renowned Australian artist Sidney Nolan, who died aged 75 in 1992. Painted in 1946-47, the series takes the form of a stylised depiction of the exploits of the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly in the Australian outback, which Nolan uses for a meditation on the universal themes of injustice, love and betrayal. Sidney Nolan was of Irish extraction and made several visits to Ireland where he painted his Wild Geese series, inspired by the soldiers who had fled Ireland after the Jacobite wars in the 1690s. Six of these paintings were donated to IMMA on its foundation in 1991. A further work, Gallipoli, 1955, was donated the following year.

Education and Community

IMMA continues to make its activities ever more accessible, with specially-designed programmes for children, young people, families and adults through free guided tours; talks, lectures and seminars; gallery and studio-based workshops.

Starting in June 2012 a new series of public discussions entitled ART + will be initiated. The first discussion in this series, Art + Science will be presented in association with the Collection exhibition, Time out of Mind. This will comprise a keynote address by Siân Ede, Arts Director of the Gulbenkian Foundation, followed by a panel discussion on the subject of collaborations between art and science. This new ART +  strand of talks will have resource material developed in association with the exhibition and will coincide with Dublin City of Science events in July 2012.

Other new initiatives for 2012 include a family programme being developed in collaboration with The Ark, the Children’s Cultural Centre, Temple Bar, to mark the link between art and science. There is also a new children’s trail of IMMA’s artworks in the grounds written by Siobhán Parkinson, Laureate na nÓg, with an accompanying video on IMMA’s website, while a number of collaborations are in development with the National Concert Hall.

To mark IMMA’s tenure in the NCH building, a series of lectures under the title Agents of Architecture is being organised in collaboration with the Irish Architecture Foundation. High profile international speakers have been invited to represent their involvement in the subject, their understanding of its definition, from the typical to the most unorthodox views. The series will uncover architecture’s impact on  society and will explore its connection to culture, revealing new critical approaches to engaging audiences.

National and Artists’ Residency Programme

In addition to the programmes at the NCH and the RHK, more than 80 works from the Museum’s Collection are already selected to be shown in locations around Ireland through IMMA’s National Programme. These include the Wexford Arts Centre; the Burren College of Art, Co Clare; the Clifden Arts Festival, Co Galway; the Linenhall Arts Centre, Co Mayo, and the Roscommon Arts Centre.

One of the exhibitions being facilitated by the programme is 474: the aesthetics of restriction, showing from 29 March at The Drawing Project, Dun Laoghaire.  The result of a collaboration with Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), 474: the aesthetics of restriction features works from IMMA’s Collection and responses to these works, selected by a curatorial team of final year students from IADT from works considered, in one way or another, as having been generated according to the logic of a set of definite restrictions. 
In May, the National Programme will collaborate with the Burren College of Art to present Who do you see when you look at me?, an exhibition which aims to promote greater engagement with, and access to, the visual arts within primary schools. The exhibition will provide an opportunity for a younger audience to discuss and engage directly with representations of people, portraiture and notions of identity.

IMMA’s Artists’ Residency Programme (ARP) provides opportunities for artists, curators, critical writers and art professionals to research and develop their practice, it supports both emerging and established professionals, working in any medium, participation is by application or invitation and is open to Irish and international applicants.

In 2012 the ARP is introducing a new online application process, which will be open to prospective applicants for the 2013 programme for six weeks from Friday 18 May and will be accessible through IMMA’s website, with supporting application guidelines. For the duration of 2012 the ARP will focus on developing its resources for 2013 onwards. Due to the refurbishment, activities will be limited, however, the full provision of facilitating art professionals living and working on-site will recommence following the reopening of the main building.

For further information and images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel: +353 1 612 9900; Email: [email protected]

29 March 2012