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IMMA presents Sarah Pierce: Scene of the Myth, guest curated by Rike Frank and the European Kunsthalle. The expansive solo exhibition consists of performances, videos, installations, and archives. Sarah Pierce, who lives and works in Dublin, relocated to Ireland from the US in 2000. Rike Frank has brought together twelve works, spanning twenty years, to highlight patterns of making and thinking that define Pierce’s art practice. Borne out of sticky relationships between the narratives we reproduce and those we wish to leave behind, Scene of the Myth asks what it means to gather, reflect, and act in community.

Closing Weekend Event: The Scene of the Myth: Dialogues Series, brings together international guests to discuss, respond and reflect on the practice of Sarah Pierce and the three organising themes of the exhibition: Institutes and Protests, Legacies and Exercises, and Communities and Migrations. Join us on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September for the finale gathering of talks, conversations, performances and readings, before the exhibition draws to a close. For details please click here.

The title of the show stems from one of Pierce’s essays in which the artist describes social infrastructures, such as academies and museums, as moments through which the narratives and conventions of a historical past are re-constituted in the present. The scene of the myth is not an actual location; it is an occasion where knowledges, both inherited and invented, come into play. An exhibition is one such occasion.

A key to the curatorial work is the potential for open doorways and unblocked windows to mark out specific “scenes” in and around Pierce’s practice: Institutes and Protests, Legacies and Exercises, Communities and Migrations.

The exhibition features a significant selection of projects with students, who appear as performers, demonstrators, and interlocutors, including An Artwork in the Third Person (2009), a set of interviews made with the Dutch Art Institute; Campus (2011), a performance that mirrors communal acts such as teaching, learning, and political protest; and The Square (2017), an experimental “play without a script” that uses Bertolt Brecht’s Lehrstück – or learning play – as a starting point. Pierce will involve student groups in the re-learning and re-staging of key performance works at intervals throughout the exhibition.

Over the last years, Sarah Pierce has developed a concept she names the “community of the exhibition” to describe how exhibitions have a particular ability to hold us, and works of art, in community. We enter the exhibition with others – other audiences, across generations, geographies and times. The show will include artworks that bring to the fore this ongoing and discerning interest in community’s tenuous and unavowable bonds, whether it is the community of dementia in No Title (2017), the community of diaspora in Pathos of Distance (2015), or the community of translation in The Question Would Be The Answer To The Question, Are You Happy? (2009-12).


About the artist

Since 2003, Sarah Pierce has used the term The Metropolitan Complex to describe her project, characterised by forms of gathering, both historical examples and those she initiates. The processes of research and presentation that she undertakes demonstrate a broad understanding of cultural work and a continual renegotiation of the terms for making art, the potential for dissent, and self-determination. Pierce’s work has shown widely in the EU, US and Canada with major exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, CCS Hessel Museum & CCS Galleries, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson Tate Modern, London and MuMOK Vienna.

Solo exhibitions include Lost Illusions/Illusions perdues, developed jointly with Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, Mercer Union, Toronto, and SBC Galerie, Montreal, No Title at the Centre of Contemporary Art, Derry, The Artist Talks at The Showroom, London, and The Meaning of Greatness at Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Pierce represented Ireland in a group exhibition at the 51st Venice Biennale and has since exhibited in major international biennials including Glasgow International, Eva International, Lyon Biennial, International Sinop Biennial, and the Moscow Biennial. 

About the guest curator

Rike Frank, co-director of the European Kunsthalle, an institution without a physical space.

Rike Frank works as a curator and writer and teaches exhibition histories and curatorial practice. She is Executive Director of the Berlin Artistic Research Grant Programme and co-director of the European Kunsthalle. Her practice often reflects on temporality, textility, and instituting and documenting curatorial articulations. Past institutional affiliations include Associate Professor of Exhibition Studies at the Academy of Fine Art of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (2014–2018); head of the exhibition space at Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig (2012–2014); member of the Artistic Program team, European Kunsthalle (2010–2012); Curator, Secession, Vienna (2001–2005); head of the Curatorial Office, documenta 12 (2007).

Publications as editor and co-editor include Of(f) Our Times. Curatorial Anachronics (2019), Ane Hjort Guttu. Writings, Conversations, Scripts (2018), Textiles: Open Letter (2015), Textile Theorien der Moderne. Alois Riegl in der Kunstkritik (2015), Timing – On the Temporal Dimension of Exhibiting (2014), and Sketches of Universal History: Compiled from Several Authors by Sarah Pierce (2013).

Live Artworks

A number of Sarah Pierce’s artworks within Scene of the Myth involve live elements. Performers include a core group of students and recent graduates selected from a national Open Call, as well as other groups.

Performance Dates

Open rehearsals and performances of the artworks – Campus (2011), Levitating in the Nauman (2014), and Future Exhibitions (2013) – take place at intervals in the galleries and across the wider museum. Please note that performance dates listed below are liable to change.

Date Time
Thursday 30 March between 2pm – 4pm
Thursday 13 & 20 April between 2pm – 4pm
Saturday 29 April between 2pm – 4pm
Thursday 4 May between 2pm – 3pm
Thursday 11 & 18 May between 2pm – 4pm
Saturday 27 May between 2pm – 4pm
Thursday 1, 8 & 15 June between 2pm – 4pm
Thursday 6, 13 & 20 July between 2pm – 3pm
Saturday 29 July between 2pm – 4pm
Thursday 10, 17 & 31 August between 2pm – 4pm
Saturday 2 September between 2pm – 4pm

Participants: Charlotte van Braam , Julie Landers , Nada Yehia , Emily Miller , Manuel McCarthy Valderrama , Méabh McKenna , Sarah Joan Kelly   and Paola Catizone, Visitor Engagement Team, IMMA

The Square (2015) engages groups of Transition Year students at moments throughout the duration of the exhibition. 

On Sunday 3 September 2023 there will be a special performance of Shelter Bread & Freedom (2021). This performance includes an afternoon of live readings in the shelter at the People’s Flower Garden, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

All live artworks, performances and readings are free entry. No booking required unless otherwise stated.


Live Readings

An afternoon of Live Readings: Sarah Pierce – Shelter Bread & Freedom (2021) / Off-site, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8

Marking the closing day of the exhibition live readings take place on Sunday 3 September in the Phoenix Park, as part of Sarah Pierce’s artwork Shelter Bread & Freedom (2021). A community of readers made of individuals who have migrated to Dublin present short, chosen texts to read aloud in their home languages. The texts range from personal letters and diaries to manifestoes, poems, lyrics, and other printed matter. The readings are not translated, and the audience is invited to gather and listen without (necessarily) understanding the languages spoken every day by people who live in Dublin.

The event is part of the artwork Shelter Bread & Freedom (2021) featured in the exhibition at IMMA. The artwork focuses on the structure of the shelter in the People’s Garden in Dublin’s Phoenix Park and incorporates a series of banners scaled to the shelter’s interior with patterns, cutting and sewing by Aoife McLaughlin and shibori dying and fraying by Clíona McLoughlin. A zine with texts by Donna Rose, Grace O’Boyle and Sarah Pierce is available to read online at here.

Please note this event takes place in an outdoor setting. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear. You are welcome to bring your own picnic blanket or seating. The event will operate with a leave no trace ethic.

Location & Meeting Point: the shelter in the People’s Flower Garden at the Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. See location details here.

Listen Back

Listen to Sarah Pierce in conversation with guest curator Rike Frank & Director of IMMA, Annie Fletcher, for a keynote introduction to Scene of the Myth, a major solo exhibition presented at IMMA. Scene of the Myth momentarily brings together twelve installations spanning twenty years of artistic practice in three configurations. These artworks, comprising performances, videos, large-scale installations and archive, have been selected specifically for IMMA.

Additional Resources 


Additional Resources


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.