IMMA BLOG

IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art


“The devastation of the people”: an interview with Nancy Scheper-Hughes

Duncan Campbell, The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy, 2016 (still). Photo courtesy of Rina Yang

On a recent return to Ireland in late March, at the invitation of the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes appeared for two speaking engagements to discuss her first major piece of work ‘Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics‘ (1979/ 2001) and how it has served as a source of inspiration for artist Duncan Campbell.  Campbell’s latest film work The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy was, in part, inspired by Scheper-Hughes’ debut. In IMMA on the 30 March she spoke with Campbell and Professor Luke Gibbons (acting as discussion moderator) reflecting on her experiences of tracing the social disintegration of a remote village in Ireland and her later attempts to reconcile an honest ethnography with the community. The talk held at IMMA was recorded and can be listened at the end of this blog post or on SoundCloud by clicking here. She then traveled to Cork on 3 April 2017 to speak with IMMA Director Sarah Glennie at University College Cork – School of Applied Social Studies.

Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics is an objective study of rural Irish life in the small town of ‘Ballybran’ in the 1970s. Plagued by social and individual problems, Scheper-Hughes was intrigued by the social life of the villagers and how their culture, language, religion, values, interactions, and way of life contributed to the community’s daily life and overall slow, yet steady decline through illness, emigration and isolation. Scheper-Hughes took particular interest in the prevalence of mental illness in rural communities, especially amongst men who often suffered from severe depression and schizophrenia.

While Scheper-Hughes was staying with us at IMMA we invited Dr. Lisa Godson, Co-Director, MA Design History and Material Culture, NCAD to meet with her and to write this blog about the occasion.

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Studio 10 Adult Programme at IMMA

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Studio 10 at IMMA

If you’ve ever wanted to experience something more creatively hands-on in relation to IMMA’s exciting programme of changing exhibitions, there are several programmes that use exploratory art-making to give you a richer understanding of the artworks and exhibitions on show in the galleries. Developed and run by IMMA’s Engagement and Learning  department (previously called ‘Education and Community’) these programmes are facilitated both by invited artists and art practitioners and our in-house facilitators from IMMA’s Visitor Engagement Team. These art-making activities focus on creative process and experimentation and are incorporated into a whole range of programming that caters for families, children, teenagers, third level groups, and adults.

For this blog we spoke to Caroline Orr (Engagement and Learning) and Joan Walker (Visitor Engagement Team) to hear more about one of the longest running of these programmes – “Studio 10” . This art-making workshop series takes place in three or four week blocks on Friday mornings, 10am to 1pm, in an autumn/winter and spring/summer schedule.  Each block focuses on a single current exhibition and explores the themes and techniques used in the making of the artworks presented in the galleries.  This involves several visits and tours to the gallery spaces, and lots of discussion, which then leads to a practical session of making in the studio. Officially called the Adult Gallery/Studio Programme it has become known as “Studio 10” – the number of the IMMA studio in which the art-making takes place. “Studio10” is free of charge and you don’t need to book in advance, you can just drop along on the day. For more information about the current dates and topics please see our website http://www.imma.ie/en/subnav_8.htm#adults

To give you a better idea of what the workshops feel like, we’ve taken a closer look at a recent project developed by the group.  In November 2016 Studio 10 was exploring the work of Jaki Irvine’s new work: If the Ground Should Open.” which was on exhibition in the Courtyard Galleries. An IMMA Commission, the work is a multichannel video and sound installation commemorating the often forgotten role women played in the 1916 Easter Rising. Using themes from this work such as commemoration and the role of memory Visitor Engagement Facilitators Barry Kehoe and Joan Walker devised a specific workshop for Studio 10 participants to make their own collaborative video work. Joan describes how the idea came about and how the film was made:

Joan tells us more:

The idea for this workshop began by honing down the Jaki Irvine piece to its essential core, which is to honour the name of a remembered person. In her case it was the memory of the women who played important roles in the 1916 Rising. To say a person’s name can be powerful, even in general conversation. It makes us pay attention, it’s grounding and it makes us feel recognised.

When Barry and I took this idea to the Studio 10 group our first step was to ask the group to think about someone who had meaning for us; perhaps someone we loved, honoured or respected. This could be someone from the past or the present, someone known intimately or even someone we had never met. We sat quietly with our memories, letting them flow to the surface and allowing the chosen person’s name to fill our heads, fill our mouths with its vibrations and then to whisper and speak out that name and indulge in its vowels and rhythms. The next step was to take a pencil to paper and begin to write the name and then to progress this further by doodling with the name, playing with it, decorating it, growing it on paper. We spoke about illuminated texts where initials are glorified in gold and jewel like colours or the bright primaries of pop culture and writing the name like a popstar or in love hearts like sweethearts, the type carved in trees or graffiti on to bathroom doors.

Soon there was spontaneous writing, drawing or collaging. There was complete silence in the studio, the concentration was immense as everyone, locked in their thoughts, began a visual memorial to their chosen name.

At our next session the following week we introduced a selection of percussion instruments, to pick up from the music at the centre of Irvine’s work. We gathered in a circle and began to improvise with sound. In their own time each person allowed their special person to come forward in their mind and let it flow to their hands and their instruments so they could honour that name in sound. Immediately some people began to sing, hum or shout out their chosen name. The Studio filled with wonderful sound and the cacophony was all the time being recorded on a mobile recording desk.

Following this it was time to record the actual speaking of the chosen name. During the recording process many participants recounted cherished memories of their person. Neither Barry nor I could have anticipated the outpouring of honesty, emotion and rich tales that would go on to weave this wonderful tapestry of sound and vision.

The next and final stage was to photograph the drawings which were combined with the recordings to produce this truly heartfelt memorable piece of art.


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Behind the Blink – Go behind the scenes with the IMMA Collection: Freud Project Advertising Campaign

IMMA Collection: Freud Project is a landmark exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art around one of the greatest realist painters of the 20th century, Lucian Freud (1922-2011). The current exhibition features a selection of 30 of the artist’s finest paintings and 20 works on paper.

To celebrate this extraordinary exhibition we asked Dublin-based advertising agency Irish International BBDO to created a 20 second advertisement for television, cinema, display, digital and social media that would capture the feeling of seeing a Freud work in the flesh. We absolutely loved the result, and hope you do to! Everything you see below was achieved in camera with NO special effects or computer generated imagery – this is a model sitting very, very still with her face brilliantly painted…with an eye-opening twist.  Don’t believe us? Read on to watch a time-lapse of the whole process.

Original 20″ Advert:

II BBDO Creative Director Dylan Cotter, who nicknamed the ad ‘facetime’, explains the concept:

The difference between looking at Freud’s portraits on a screen or in a book or catalogue, versus seeing them ‘in the flesh’ – is profound. Rachel and myself visited the exhibition in December and our reactions differed in many respects, but we both felt that. Part of it was the physics of the paint, the depth of it. And part of it was just spending time. For me, it was only after a little while of staring and exploring, that I noticed how in every portrait the eyes were these points of quite fierce stability amongst all these swirls and eddies of withering, weathering flesh.

We wanted to capture that in our ad.

Quite literally invoking people to see this work ‘in the flesh’; but also making that point on a more emotive and less literal level.

At the exhibition we read a quote from Freud, next to Man in a check cap: “As far as I’m concerned, the paint is the person. I want it to work for me just as flesh does.”

This sparked a thought with Rachel, to play with that relationship between the paint and the painted.

We were incredibly lucky to find a make-up artist here in Dublin – Caitríona Giblin – who is as good as anyone, anywhere, at achieving the effect we were after.

Behind-the-Scenes Timelapse:

We are very proud of the fact that the finished work was completely achieved in camera. One take, no cheats or fixes or embellishments, no CGI tricks. This is a real model with a painted face, standing in front of a painted backdrop (also by Caitríona), and opening her eyes.

It’s a simple and hopefully resonant comment on Freud’s ability to truly connect the viewer of the portrait with the subject of the portrait, in a startling and transcendent way. Go to the exhibition and you’ll see what we mean!

Like any piece of creative work, experimentation was an important part in the making of this ad. While the general concept and story had been planned before the final shoot took place, the team saw an opportunity to play with the idea and expand it further. The result is a series of videos where one is more playful and cheeky than the last.

Playful and dramatic:

Freud painted from life, and usually spend a great deal of time with each subject, demanding the model’s presence even while working on the background of the portrait. His portraits depict people he was close to; friends, family, lovers, and the like as he wished to capture his subjects alongside his interactions with them, stating:

The subject matter is autobiographical, it’s all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really..

His subjects usually recall having to devote enormous amounts of their time for an uncertain period of commitment.  Freud’s portraits could take weeks or even months to complete and required extensive dedication and focus from his subjects which sometimes led to emotional and physical discomfort. Perhaps the following take is the result of a similar experience felt by the production team (we hope not!):

Our model had excellent control over her eyebrow muscles. We were impressed:

Kiss, kiss. Wink wink.

While the production team had a lot of fun directing these different takes during filming the restrained drama of the model’s first take was ultimately the most fitting and striking moment captured on the day. Her subtle movement beautifully translates the connection a viewer can feel when standing in front of one of Lucian Freud’s portraits.

We wish to extend our sincerest gratitude to the team at Irish International BBDO  and and all the individuals who donated their time and expertise to this campaign.

Creative Director: Dylan Cotter
Art Director: Rachel Foley
Producer and Editor: Georgia Stevenson
Post Production: Lee Miller
Account Manager: Lorna Begg
DOP: Martin Osborne
Makeup Artist: Caitríona Giblin
Model: Deirdre J Lynam
Kevin Breathnach (Avondale Studio)

IMMA Collection: Freud Project is now open. Tickets are available online and advanced booking in strongly recommended. Find out more here and book tickets here.


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To Be Determined (for Jean) – Dispatch from week two of the Emily Jacir workshop at IMMA

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As we enter the final weekend of Emily Jacir’s exhibition at IMMA ‘Europa’, ending this Sunday 26 February, we hear from Emily Jacir on the second week of her workshop “To Be Determined (for Jean)” which took place during the month of January in conjunction with her exhibition.

Conceived and organised by Jacir, in collaboration with IMMA, the workshop was based around a student collaboration with Jacir’s students from the International Academy of Art Palestine, Ramallah and a number of Irish students. IMMA invited colleges throughout Ireland to nominate students to participate, resulting in students from Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD); Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Centre for Creative Arts and Media (GMIT  CCAM); the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Dublin and Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

In the second week of the workshop the students traveled to the Burren College of Art, Co. Clare where they worked with Conor McGrady and Áine Phillips. On their return to Dublin they participated in workshops by artists Gerard Byrne and Shane Cullen. Here we hear from Emily Jacir and the participants in the programme, both artists and students, on their reflections on the second week and what the workshop meant to them.

Read the blog from week one by Emily Jacir and the participants in the programme.


Emily Jacir’s new installation at IMMA, “Notes for a Cannon”, which she describes as throwing open her sketchbook, constellates histories of Palestine and Ireland in a magnetic field of correspondence and convergence. We could think of the two week-long workshop as aiming at something similar: not a process of instruction or “information delivery”, but an ongoing, collective sketch-work that kept discovering past and present interconnections between two sites that are geographically remote but bound together by actual and analogical links. Both the land and the culture of Ireland and Palestine are marked by imperialism and settler colonialism and by an enduring resistance to them. The fragmentary and episodic connections traced between them may look like the debris of historical damage, but are charged with the openness to the future that the imagination and forging of life in common inspires. – David Lloyd, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside.

My workshop To Be Determined (for Jean) started on 23 January at IMMA (read my dispatch from week one) and in our second week we kicked off by heading to the Burren College of Art on Sunday to spend a few days there. On the first day there we went to see the Atlantic Ocean and the Cliffs in the morning. Then it was back to the Burren College of Art (who hosted us and where we stayed) for Conor McGrady‘s seminar: “Visual Culture & The Irish Conflict: Incarceration, Resistance, & the State.”

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Conor McGrady Seminar at the Burren College of Art

On our second day at the Burren we started with a drawing seminar in the beautiful studios of the Burren College of Art, pictured below. This session focused on using drawing as a way for the students to process in their own language the many things they have been confronted with on this journey together.

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Drawing workshop, Burren School of Art

After lunch Áine Phillips presented us with her lecture entitled “Contemporary Live Art: Colonialism and Gender in Ireland”. This was followed by a field trip to an abandoned famine village. The day ended in the castle at the Burren College of Art where a fire was lit and local musicians and poets from County Clare came and shared their gifts with us.

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Burren College of Art was pleased to participate in Emily Jacir’s workshop, that brought a group of her students from the International Academy of Art Palestine to Ireland to work with students from four Irish colleges over a two week period. At BCA seminars were complimented with intensive discussion, reflection and visual documentation/drawing in response to issues impacting art and politics in Ireland and Palestine. Emily’s workshop comes in the wake of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising and at a critical conjuncture in contemporary global politics. In engaging with Ireland’s past and Palestine’s present, it posed important questions on the role of the artist in responding to the social, cultural and political legacies of colonialism and conflict. It was an honor to work with Emily in this important initiative, and to share time, space and discussion with such a dynamic group of committed and enthusiastic students.– Conor McGrady, Burren College of Art.

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The second week of the workshop was again a fantastic experience, travelling to the Burren gave a great insight into the more rural aspects of Irish history and culture, between that, the drawing workshop and an array of great lectures and discussions not to mention invaluable tutorials from a range of people at the top of their profession I have been left with new insights and a rich vain of useful ideas that can feed directly into my work now and into the future – Conor Burke (GMIT- CCAM)

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After our return to Dublin we wrapped up the last few days of the workshop with seminars with artists Gerard Byrne and Shane Cullen (pictured below) regarding their practice. Gerard and Shane and I also conducted one on one tutorials with the students to discuss their work and the new projects they are embarking on inspired by the workshop.

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Gerard Byrne, Emily Jacir and Shane Cullen

During the workshop we have been introduced to many inspiring people and stories. We are only beginning to process all the information, and I am sure it will stay with us for a long time. Being away from the college working structure, working with different artists is also a great opportunity for us to look at our own work from a wider perspective. Personally, I have not only found out more about Ireland and Palestine and their relationship, but also about my own identity and my own relationship with Ireland. – Oliwia Nowak (LSAD)

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Final dinner with artists, students, participants in IMMA’s Residency communal house.

The workshop has been over for nearly a month now and I’m still picking apart and digesting the experiences that were cultivated during those intense two weeks. In my mind, the second week of the workshop is a blur of wild landscapes hurtling past the windows of our bus, beautiful food shared with beautiful friends and songs sung in both familiar and unfamiliar languages (of which I still find myself idly humming along to). I rediscovered the power of drawing. I was reminded of the value of song and spoken word. I learnt about the importance of making work locally, for yourself and for your neighbours. It’s difficult trying to chronicle or sum up the happenings of the workshop and I think it would not be helpful to do so right now. I can only express my undivided gratitude to the many wonderful people I was fortunate enough to meet. May this be only the beginning. Yurika Boo.

Emily’s proposal for a student workshop, which she presented to IMMA’s Engagement and Learning team during the early planning stages of her exhibition, provided a way for IMMA to further explore how we can be a support and locus for research and student interaction. The collaborative approach of the workshop involved many individuals and organisations coming together through seminars, lectures, site visits, excursions, and also meals which provided important opportunities for the learning and experience to be digested. Taking place against the backdrop of Emily’s exhibition at IMMA, this student workshop provides a rich model for future student collaboration and exchange which we hope to build on in the development of IMMA as a site for research and learning. – Lisa Moran, Curator: Engagement and Learning, IMMA. 

Europa is in its final weekend, ending this Sunday 26 February. The exhibition is free. 



About the Author

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Emily Jacir. Photo John McRae, 2016.

Emily Jacir’s recent solo exhibitions include IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art), Dublin (2016 – 2017); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015); Darat il Funun, Amman (2014-2015); Beirut Art Center (2010); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009). Jacir’s works have been in important group exhibitions internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; dOCUMENTA (13) (2012); 5 consecutive Venice Biennales, 29th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2010); 15th Biennale of Sydney (2006); Sharjah Biennial 7 (2005); Whitney Biennial (2004); and the 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003).

Jacir is the recipient of several awards, including a Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007); a Prince Claus Award (2007); the Hugo Boss Prize (2008); the Herb Alpert Award (2011); and the Rome Prize (2015).

In 2003 O.K. Books published belongings. a monograph on a selection of Jacir’s work. A second monograph was published by Verlag Fur Moderne Kunst Nurnberg (2008). Her book ex libris was published in 2012 by Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln. In 2015 The Khalid Shoman Foundation published A Star is as Far as the Eye Can See and as Near as My Eye is to Me the most extensive monograph to date on Jacir’s work in English and Arabic. The most recent publication on her work are Europa which accompanies the exhibitions at Whitechapel and IMMA. Earlier this year NERO, Roma published TRANSLATIO about Jacir’s permanent installation Via Crucis at the Chiesa di San Raffaele in Milano.

She has been actively involved in education in Palestine since 2000 including PIVF and Birzeit University. Over the past ten years she has been a full-time professor and active member of the vanguard International Academy of Art Palestine in Ramallah. She conceived of and co-curated the first Palestine International Video Festival in Ramallah in 2002. She also curated a selection of shorts; “Palestinian Revolution Cinema (1968 -1982)” which went on tour in 2007. Jacir is on the faculty of Bard MFA in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.