The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now traces urgent themes across a 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 explores 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 third chapter, Social Fabric, positions textile and its histories at the heart of this exploration of the here-and-now. This chapter considers themes of globalisation, technology, labour, community and agency through artworks that engage with textile as commodity, material and craft. These ideas form pathways across the exhibition, from feminist work to heirlooms, woven acts of resistance to the relationship between weaving technologies and computer code.
The exhibition considers textile as a commodity, associated with global industry and exchange and addresses the association of textile production with ‘women’s work’, domestic industry and labour. It explores the opportunity provided by textile making and materiality for personal expression and agency. Proposing that ‘Textiles’ not only empowers through its frequently subverted association with the ‘tender crafts’, but also as a symbol of care, repair, heirloom of knowledge and self-sufficiency. The interconnected relationship of textile production and the development of computers and contemporary digital technologies is also explored.
Works from IMMA’s Collection, including some of the earliest works acquired for the Collection by Maureen Connor, William Hogarth, Colin Middleton and Kathy Prendergast, are presented here alongside international loans by Ahree Lee and Ibrahim Mahama.
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The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now is presented in four chapters, each one explores the past three decades through different thematic approaches – Chapter One: Queer Embodiment; Chapter Two: The Anthropocene; Chapter Three: Social Fabric, and Chapter Four: Protest and Conflict. This is the first time that the Museum has been given over entirely to showing the IMMA Collection and showcases 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 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.