For this exhibition we are delighted to present a work from the IMMA Collection in an expanded context. IMMA approached the New York-based artist Beverly Semmes, who has collaborated with us on this project, and has generously lent work from her studio and has given unprecedented access to her archive. Commissioned for an installation at Smith College in 1995, the art-work Big Silver is attached to a motorised pulley so that it rises and subsides at regular intervals, mimicking the ballet dancer’s pliés at the bar. At its lowest point on the floor it is a formless expanse of glittering fabric, but it reveals its true identity as it is pulled up the wall, the figurative emerges from the abstract and vice versa.
One Green Leaf is a work on paper from an ongoing series of work The Feminist Responsibility Project or FRP. In drawing on work from the artist’s studio to complement Big Silver, the exhibition gives an insight into the artist’s working methods and concerns, while shining a light on aspects of a now familiar work from IMMA’s Collection. The two works are related both formally – through the use of colour and material – and in their subject matter, which is ostensibly the politics of the female body and its representation.
Documents and photographs associated with Big Silver are also displayed here; items – usually only seen by curatorial or studio staff behind the scenes which offer a wonderful insight into how an artist develops a concept from an initial sketch through numerous different iterations of a work to a final piece. The Project Spaces offer seismic shifts in scale between the rooms; this functions particularly well for presenting these two works, one small, one big; bookmarking periods of production and creation for an artist who continues to develop her practice.
Semmes has been exhibiting internationally since the 1990s. She has had solo exhibitions at the Sculpture Centre, New York; Camden Arts Centre, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Beverly Semmes: New and Recent Sculpture was shown at IMMA in 1996.
To mark the final two weeks of the presentation of Beverly Semmes, Big Silver (1996), an archive recording of a talk given by Semmes at IMMA in 1996 is now available to listen too. In this talk Semmes’ discusses the concept and making of Big Silver. Click here to listen