Chroma – A book of Colour (June 1993) by Derek Jarman is an intensely personal exploration of colour, written during the final year of the artist’s life as his eyesight fails him. Described as an AIDS autobiography, Chroma is also a work of visceral prose, merging aesthetic and queer thinking with the intensely personal and politically reactive. Published in the same year as the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the Republic of Ireland, Chroma subverts perceived populist norms and is, by default, an inclusive read.
Taking this as its cue CHROMA explores a prism of protest in various guises, through play, art, music, lecture, dance, film and politics. CHROMA will explore themes of body relations to colour and space, identity politics, cultural blindness, forced anonymity, and the theatrics of visibility and invisibility. Embracing the self-determination and quest for personal freedom that underlines many LGBTQ personal histories and experiences the project will build new alliances across the queer community, providing a platform for a co-hosted, multi-vocal, open programme of discussions, screenings, workshops and experimental performances.
The project interweaves chromatic musings, evocative memories and archival reflections on continued desires to integrate and transform society. Featured projects include Club Chroma by artist and designer Niall Sweeney of Pony Ltd., who turns the gallery into a glittering stage for celebrating colourful community. This draws on Pony’s ‘Queer Notions’ and ‘Alternative Miss Ireland’ collective studio archive and longstanding manifesto of subverting conformity through dancing, dressing up and having fun. Featuring interactive agitprops and projected imagery from 25 years of the Alternative Miss Ireland scene, Sweeney calls on visitors to unite in becoming agitators, visionaries and glorious outsiders. Rooted in the domestic social and political contexts from which the self-organised, informal queer club scene of 1990s emerged and its role in mobilising the political drives of Ireland’s social movements, Sweeney creates a space for playful transformation, experimentation and self-expression — inviting you to make Club Chroma your own.
In the adjacent room, Padraig Robinson’s new artist book Gaze Against Imperialism (Metaflux Publishing 2019) is presented on a custom designed table. The book began in 2014 in the Irish Queer Archive, housed at the National Library Ireland. There Robinson mined selected material from the archive, re-animating the plural and diverging politics of the gay liberation movement in Ireland at the beginning of the 1980s. In doing so, Gaze Against Imperialism expands on LGBTQ narratives through personal accounts and prose that is both journalistic and poetic. Robinson’s new book exposes the fracturing of political consensus, its current day reflections and the importance of international solidarity for a queer future that has not yet fully arrived.
The Public Programme aligned with CHROMA offers a playful and unexpected environment for reading, discourse, restoring the “I” and the “we” of collective participation, bringing together creative practitioners, educators, activists and designers to respond to ideas of ‘intersectionality’ as it relates to IMMA’s current programme: Desire, A Revision; Derek Jarman, PROTEST! and IMMA Archive 1990s: From the Edge to the Centre
Club Chroma, 2019
A new installation by Niall Sweeney (Dublin) of Pony Ltd.
At Club Chroma, Niall Sweeney turns the gallery into a glittering stage — a temple of transformation that embraces colour and vibrancy. Through interactive props, projection, and do-it-yourself queer club theatrics, Club Chroma explores the power of dressing up and having fun, through parade, protest, and masquerade. At Club Chroma, no colour is the wrong colour, no vision is impossible, no state fixed, no history inevitable, no destiny assumed, no one is less.
Gaze Against Imperialism, 2019
A new artist’s book project by Padraig Robison.
With contributions by Cathal Kerrigan, designed by Yin Yin Wong. Metaflux Publishing 2019.
Gaze Against Imperialism by Padraig Robinson is written in the form of a rehearsal for a film never intended to be made. This built-in absence defers to the imagination of the reader, who, far from filling a gap, becomes a potential producer (as overhearer). The narrative begins in the Irish Queer Archive in 2014, where Robinson initially tracked tensions between legal reform activism and the social economy of the emerging gay scene in 1980s Ireland. Eight ‘scenes’ of dialogue script feature with University Librarian Cathal Kerrigan, co-founder of the small 80s lobby group, Gays Against Imperialism, documented in the final section of the Archive listings. By articulating the homonym Gaze and Gays, the title not only refers to the generative misunderstandings in any public utterance, but also to the space between reading and listening.
Gaze Against Imperialism was supported by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. Research at the Irish Queer Archive was supported by Kildare County Council Arts Office.
Niall Sweeney (Pony Ltd.) b.1967, Dublin. Lives in London. Pony Ltd. is an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed creative studio based in London and is the collaboration of Niall Sweeney (Dublin) and Nigel Truswell (Sheffield). Output at the studio ranges from popular culture to the avant-garde, from high-brow to low-brow — in art, design, print, theatre, film, performance, installation, music, publishing and writing. With a keen interest in words, pictures and the chance of a dance, Pony’s work has been published, exhibited, performed, collected and screened around the world.
Sweeney was no sooner out of school when he started an eternal relationship with the transformational power and politics of dressing up and having fun, through which he invigorated over 30 years of Dublin’s heart beat with graphic ephemera and radical spaces. From the early days of SIDES Danceclub in 1985, Flikkers at The Hirschfeld Centre, the first Alternative Miss Ireland in 1987 through to the last in 2012. Through the daytime clublands of Makullas, D-Side and the seminal and very nocturnal new technologies of ELEVATOR, D1 Recordings — and on — with a burgeoning family of collaborators — licking 1990s Ireland into shape and into an unapologetic outrageous frock with GAG, POWDERBUBBLE and H.A.M. Then on through the 2000s with the emergence of AMI and Panti as a combined national queer force (in the process AMI become a significant fundraiser for Irish HIV/AIDS organisations), reaching its apotheosis in The Queen of Ireland and as participant on the road to Marriage Equality. A belief in the power of glorious outsiders and their ability to change the world just by dancing together is played out in life-long collaborations, work and love affairs. AMI is a family concept that continues to grow, with Sweeney now collaborating with ThisIsPopBaby through its radical festivals Where We Live and Queer Notions, the performance/art/club WERK and the internationally touring hit show RIOT, and so much more. All of Sweeney’s output is touched by the revolutionary dancefloor we built for ourselves, of the people and places of our own disco beat, and of the ecstasy of tomorrow. See the artists website here
Padraig Robinson (b. Athy 1985) is an artist writing books and screenplays, inquiring into pre-queer histories and the contemporary economy of the image. Robinson’s first novella size book, 6 — 9: Notes from the archive of Dan Kane was published by Publication Studio Rotterdam in 2016, and in 2017 he was a contributor to the twelfth edition of the annual publication Caderno_Sesc Videobrazil 12, São Paulo. Robinson is based in Berlin and Stuttgart, where he is 2017 — 2019 Visual Arts Fellow of Akademie Schloss Solitude. Robinson studied sculpture at Limerick School of Art and Design graduating in 2008 and received an MFA at the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) in 2013. See the artist website here.
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