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The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now, IMMA: 30 Years of the Global Contemporary is a major museum-wide exhibition showcasing the IMMA Collection and the history of the Museum since 1991 to celebrate IMMA’s 30th Birthday. The exhibition will open in four phases throughout 2021, with each new chapter exploring specific themes within IMMA’s 30-year history. This is the first time that the museum has been given over entirely to a display from the IMMA Collection, and will showcase a selection of artworks, recently acquired for 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 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 national museums of contemporary art opened in countries such as Poland and Lithuania that 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.

The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now will present an ambitious Engagement & Learning programme with a significant online presence including virtual tours, online presentations, lectures, and public programming. A major publication will present a new history of the IMMA Collection bringing international voices together to probe what it means to be both global and local in 2021.

About the Exhibition

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. It reflects on the dramatic changes that occurred in Irish legislation relating to homosexuality, divorce, marriage equality and reproductive rights. 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. It contains multiple artistic perspectives on the conflict in Northern Ireland as well as narratives of political unrest further afield. Signalling the role of the Museum at this key moment, the exhibition embraces decolonisation as a process to actively reflect the diversity and the voices of the people within the Collection and around us. The reach of the artistic representation within the exhibition is global and includes various media such as painting, sculpture, film, video, installation, performance, internet art, sound, textiles, drawing, community-based practice, collaborative practice, and socially-engaged practice.

List of Artists

Additional Resources 


Additional Resources