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On the approach of the centenary of Ireland’s Easter Rising and the subsequent establishment of the new Republic, IMMA is pleased to announce the exhibition, El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State. This exhibition reflects on the artistic and cultural community who gave voice to a new image for the emerging state and a visual language for its politics. It places this local reflection within a broader global consideration of the role of artists in the imagination of emergent states of the early 20th century, and acts as a contemporary exploration of the task of the artist in relation to civil society.

The exhibition brings together a significant body of works from the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, by El Lizzitsky (1890 – 1941), one of the most influential artists of the 20th century who is shown here for the first time in Ireland. El Lizzitsky was an enthusiastic supporter of the Russian Revolution. For him the construction of the Soviet Union meant the opportunity to break away from traditional constraints. He used it to develop visions of a collective aesthetic of the new world, which he then embodied in his artworks.

These works, including an important body of his noted ‘Proun’ series, are shown in the context of archive material referencing the work of Irish nationalist poet and writer Alice Milligan (1865-1953), and her collaborator Maud Gonne (1866 – 1953). The exhibition explores their parallel visions of the activated artist central to the imagining of a new state. El Lissitzky and Milligan both envisaged their creative practices as tools for social and political change, although realising this through very different aesthetic languages and strategies. What becomes clear is the conviction and active participation in the task at hand: the artist as active in the formation of the new world order.

A contemporary counterpoint to the historical narrative is provided by the work of four artists – Rossella Biscotti, Núria Güell, Sarah Pierce and Hito Steyerl – whose work, in different ways, reflects on the position of the artist within our society now. Núria Güell and Rosella Biscotti directly address our position as individuals within the mechanics of the state. Sarah Pierce questions the task of the artist (both past and present) in addressing any kind of cohesive experience in civil society. Hito Steyerl will exhibit two works which both reflect on the important history of the Russian Avant Garde while pointing towards more contemporary concerns within today’s digitised and militarised global context.

El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State brings to Ireland for the first time an extraordinary body of El Lissitzky works generously lent to IMMA by the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, shown alongside archival material related to Alice Milligan and Maud Gonne’s theatrical tableaux, and newly commissioned and recent works by Rossella Biscotti, Núria Güell, Sarah Pierce and Hito Steyerl.

The exhibition is curated by Annie Fletcher, Chief Curator, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; and Sarah Glennie, Director, IMMA, with Dr Catherine Morris as curatorial advisor.

The participation of the Dutch-based artist Rossella Biscotti is made possible with financial support from the Mondriaan Fund. The participation of Hito Steyerl is supported by the Goethe-Institut Irland. The exhibition is presented with the support of Yeats 2015.

Featured artist: Rossella Biscotti, Maud Gonne, Núria Güell, Alice Milligan, Sarah Pierce & Hito Steyerl

Talks and Events

Gallery Discussion | El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State
Thursday 30 July, 11am – 12noon, Garden Galleries, IMMA
Exhibition Curators, Sarah Glennie, Annie Fletcher, and Catherine Morris (art historian and curator) lead a gallery discussion within the exhibition spaces. Listen to this discussion on Soundcloud: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Sarah Pierce, Performance | Gag: a performance for three actors
Garden Galleries, IMMA.
More info
Intermittent scenarios will be performed throughout the exhibition space using gesture and voice. These scenarios are based on the Irish Cultural Revival during the late 19th and early 20th century. This is an intermittent, roving performance throughout the building. The performance starts at 2pm on the following dates:

Saturday 12th September
Saturday 19th September
Saturday 26th September
Saturday 3rd October

Lecture + Roundtable Discussion
Saturday 17 October, 3 – 5:30pm, Lecture Room, IMMA
On the closing weekend of El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State, Catherine Morris presents a lecture on her research into the work and ideas of the key revolutionary figure of Alice Milligan in the early years of the 20th century. This will be followed by a discussion addressing Lissitzky’s enthusiasm for the revolution and the relevance of his ideas for contemporary artists and society, as Ireland approaches the centenary of 1916. Participants include: Rossella Biscotti, Núria Güell, Sarah Pierce, Annie Fletcher, Sarah Glennie and discussion moderator, Mick Wilson (Researcher, Valand Academy, the University of Gothenburg). A closing reception follows this event.

Reading Room

A Reading Room featuring special editions and rare publications on loan from Van Abbemuseum Library, Eindhoven will be open a few hours daily. Located on Floor 3, Garden Galleries, IMMA

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday
11.30am – 1pm and 1.30 – 3.30pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays
12noon – 1pm, 1.45 – 3pm, 3.20 – 5.15pm

Additional Resources

Exhibition guides (PDF – click to download):
El Lissitzky guide
Alice Milligan guide
Room by Room guide of exhibition El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State

Video (YouTube): Sarah Glennie, Director, IMMA, introduces the exhibition El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State, followed by a conversation between Dr Catherine Morris, curatorial advisor for the exhibition, and featured artist Sarah Pierce.

Alice Milligan: Republican Tableaux and the Revival, an essay by Catherine Morris, Field Day Review 6 (2010). (PDF – click to download)

Legal report and letter of resignation from Núria Güell’s work, Stateless by Choice. On the prison of the Possible. 2015.

Timeline of El Lissitzky’s life, from the Van Abbemuseum (PDF – click to download)

Listen to talks and discussions on the exhibition via Soundcloud

Sarah Glennie (Director, IMMA) and Annie Fletcher (Chief Curator, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven) introduce the exhibition.

Dr Catherine Morris (art historian and curator) introduces the work of Irish cultural activist, writer and arts practitioner Alice Milligan(1866-1953),

Annie Fletcher and Sarah Glennie discuss some of the contemporary artworks that comprise the El Lissitzky exhibition. Contemporary artists include Rossella Biscotti, Núria Güell, Sarah Pierce and Hito Steyerl.

Listen to lecture and roundtable discussion: To mark the closing weekend Dr Catherine Morris presented a lecture on her research on the ideas of key revolutionary figures; Alice Milligan, Maud Gonne, Yeats and El Lissitzky in the early years of the 20th-century. This was followed by a discussion addressing Lissitzky’s enthusiasm for the revolution and the relevance of his ideas for contemporary artists and society, as Ireland approaches its centenary year of 1916.

In conjunction with ARC Programme at IADT 2015-16 Maeve Connolly (Lecturer, IADT) addresses the ‘infrastructural turn’ in contemporary art, media and culture. This session explored definitions of infrastructure developed within art and media theory, referencing recent works by contemporary artists such as Celine Condorelli, Simon Denny, John Gerrard, Melanie Gilligan, Fiona Marron and Andrea Zittel, and critical texts by Hito Steyerl, whose work was on view in the El Lissitzky exhibition.


New art at IMMA proudly sponsored by Matheson

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. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.