Created by Niall Sweeney, Club Chroma Chlorologia is a newly commissioned site-specific work installed in the gardens and grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.
Club Chroma Chlorologia is the first stage of a gradual extension of the recent exhibition CHROMA presented in the Project Spaces in the museum’s galleries in 2019/early 2020. The CHROMA project explores ideas of intersectionality, as it relates to themes of the body in relation to colour and space, identity politics, cultural blindness, forced anonymity and the theatrics of visibility and invisibility. Embracing the self-determination of personal freedom that underlines many LGBTQ personal histories and experiences, the project aims to build new alliances across a diverse set of communities. Taking as its departure point the creative, activist and written work of Derek Jarman that comprised a major IMMA retrospective called PROTEST! last year, for which Niall designed the substantial publication that accompanied the exhibition.
In this latest evolution of CHROMA, Club Chroma Chlorologia now moves its attention to the outdoors and activates two very large hoarding blocks, located between the north-facing aspects of the 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Created in response to the formal geometry of one of Dublin’s most historic gardens, Niall Sweeney’s dazzling black and white graphics elevate the hoarding into an installation space for public participation, one that billboards the Club Chroma manifesto that calls visitors to action. At various seasonal moments throughout the year, keep an eye out for a procession of multi-coloured protest placards of sensory body parts that will populate different quarters of the grounds in unexpected ways, enticing a variety of engagements throughout the year.
In the current climate of social distancing and renewed interests in restorative benefits of nature, gardening, outdoors, public spaces and community – over the coming year IMMA is delighted to collaborate with Niall on Club Chroma Chlorologia that will grow and evolve, as we welcome all visitors to enjoy the community grounds and gardens unique to IMMA.
“Come into the garden with Chlorologia and dance amongst the divine communications of the iridescent oracles of Club Chroma in a dazzle of anti-camouflage. Here you parade as deities of the good times, spirits of the marginalised, lovers of the exquisite bodies of the living and the dead. Chlorologia compels all fantastical humans to rise up against gravity, vibrate into life and blossom together in full colour.” — Niall Sweeney
As Niall explains, Chlorologia engages with the magic and mystery inherent in the convergent settings of the formal gardens and the underground nightclub, — as places of projected fantasy, transformational power and realisation of the self. Hoarding patterns riffs off the geometries of both the gardens and the dancefloor, in a black-and-white dazzle pattern that fizzes the eyes. Viewers are invited to be participants, to parade around the vibrating patterns, to shape-shift and make some moves, becoming all the more colourful as they do. As participants glide between the two hoarding monoliths of dazzle towards the garden, they should incant and perform together the Club Chroma manifesto, — to their own divine rhythm — a love song thrown to all bodies of the cosmos. Chlorologia invites you to be present, to dress up, to move together — and have some fun.
The presentation of this project is kindly supported by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
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 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. Pony’s work has been published, exhibited, performed, collected and screened around the world.
Niall has worked for over thirty years with radical spaces and their graphic ephemera. From the early days of SIDES dance club in 1985, Flikkers at The Hirschfeld Centre, GAG, POWDERBUBBLE, H.A.M. and Alternative Miss Ireland (AMI) 1987–2012), through to the new technologies of ELEVATOR, DEAF and D1 Recordings.
Working with this growing family of collaborators, AMI and Panti emerged as a national queer force, becoming active participants on the road to Marriage Equality in Ireland. Radical theatrics continue with ThisIsPopBaby’s productions, Where We Live, Queer Notions, WERK, RIOT, and so much more.
All of Niall’s output is touched, in one way or another, by the revolutionary dancefloor this alternative family built for themselves, moving forward to their own disco beat, and by the ecstasy of tomorrow.
The primary catalyst for the themes discussed in CHROMA, was the book ‘Chroma – A book of Colour’ (June 1993) by British artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman. Written during the final year of the Jarman’s life as his eyesight fails him, the book is an intensely personal exploration of colour. 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 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, Niall 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, Niall creates a space for playful transformation, experimentation and self-expression — inviting you to make Club Chroma your own.
The project also features 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.
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