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Royal Hospital Kilmainham
Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
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The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now traces urgent themes across the 30-year period as they impact the personal, the political and the planetary, and prompts thinking about the effects of globalisation today in the Irish context as we respond to global crises from COVID-19 to Climate Change and the Black Lives Matter movement. The exhibition will explore ideas of bodily autonomy, conflict and protest, the Anthropocene era, and digital technologies, through the rich holdings of the IMMA Collection and Archive which represent a diverse history of artistic responses to these themes.

The first Chapter, Queer Embodiment, maps the context for the project, reflecting on the dramatic legislative changes that occurred in Irish society such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality (1993), provision of divorce (1996), marriage equality (2015) and the repeal of the Eighth Amendment (2018). These moments in the struggle for human rights find echoes across the globe, as grassroots movements continue to contest the impact of the State on the Body.

The Museum’s Collection and Archive reflects a strong history of feminist practice, relaying the defiance of women in Ireland against church and state oppression; as well as queer histories that capture moments of resistance and joy, as well as presenting the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. While many of these changes have built a more compassionate society, some of the artists in this exhibition engage with troubling issues, such as Irish citizenship and migration, which remain unresolved.

Queer Embodiment is organised in sections: the first, explores themes of mourning, HIV/AIDS, bodily autonomy and domestic violence. The second shows how artists, particularly female and queer artists, articulate resistant forms of identity representation that counter prevailing beliefs. The third considers the idea of home as it is articulated through ideas of the national, post-colonial, traveller, migrant and refugee experiences. The final section presents viewpoints from artists who embody hopeful visions of recuperation, and the future.


List of Artists

The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now

The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now opens in four phases throughout 2021, with each new chapter exploring the past three decades through different thematic approaches. Chapter One: Queer Embodiment opens on 30 July followed by Chapter Two: The Anthropocene on 24 September; Chapter Three: Social Fabric on 5 November; and Chapter Four: Protest and Conflict on 19 November. This is the first time that the Museum has been given over entirely to showing the IMMA Collection and will showcase a selection of recently acquired artworks to the Collection through a fund from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. Alongside this, several key loans will augment the artworks in the Collection and Archive. The exhibition is designed by the collaborative architecture and design practice led by Jo Anne Butler and Tara Kennedy.

The exhibition positions IMMA’s inception in 1991 as part of a crucial moment in the history of globalisation, within the European context. Around this time, several museums of contemporary art in countries such as Poland and Lithuania were redefining their cultural identities in the context of a post-Communist Europe. These and wider shifts towards globalisation, with the dawn of the internet and rise of neoliberal politics in the West, provide the context for thinking about IMMA’s role in relation to the global contemporary.


Eimear Walsh
The Land Question, 2020

Eimear Walsh’s film work, The Land Question: Where the fuck am I supposed to have sex?, 2020, is on show as part of Chapter One of the The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now. The full film is available to watch here. The work presents a brief history of land contestation in Ireland, and questions how the history of land relations persistently impacts our most intimate thoughts, aspirations, and interactions. Though a series of rurally-set and often humorous scenes, the artist illuminates the particular relevance of the 19th Century Land Wars in a contemporary Irish context. Please note that this video contains sexual references and strong language.

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