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Gallery Voices: The Underbelly of New York

In our Gallery Voices series Ciara Magee, from our Visitor Engagement Team, explores the subject matter in American photographer Nan Goldin’s exhibition Weekend Plans

The exhibition is now in its final week ending this Sunday 15 October.
Admission is free.

The work of Nan Goldin is a site to behold. Her early work documents New York in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s at a time when artists took over the Lower East Side due to the low rents during the economic recession. Goldin moved to New York in 1978 following her graduation and almost immediately immersed herself in the ‘No Wave’ scene in which she has since become a key figure. The ‘No Wave’ movement was a short-lived scene that emerged in the late ‘70’s in downtown New York that influenced a new underground art, film and music scene based on the rejection of commercial ‘new wave’ music at the time.

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Nan Goldin, Weekend Plans, Installation view IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2017. Photo: Denis Mortell.

Goldin’s body of work demonstrates to us the gritty reality of the underbelly of the city during this time. Her Exhibition, Weekend Plans is currently showing on the West Wing at IMMA alongside Irish artist, Vivienne Dick’s exhibition 93% STARDUST. Even though both of these exhibitions are separate shows, curated with a completely different approach, that is varied in their range of media, there are similar underlying themes and many of their mutual friends become faces we recogonise seeing them multiple times in both artists works.

From the outset, the blue colour on the walls, chosen by Goldin, interjects a sombre mood as we are met with her self portraits, taken from different decades. These portraits reflect many different aspects of Goldin’s life, including the high points and the low. Her most iconic work, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, is also featured, a 45 minute slideshow consisting of over 700 snapshots taken between 1979 and 1986, compiled with music from The Velvet Underground, James Brown and Nina Simone among others. This music gives context to the image placement in the slideshow and creates a more concrete narrative for the viewer.


Viewers watching The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1985, by Nan Goldin, Installation view IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2017

The Ballad seems to entice viewers for the entire duration of the work, on a number of occasions it has provoked in depth conversations about topics such as drug use, and of course, New York City itself. A number of weeks ago a woman approached me to tell me “it’s exactly how I remember it!”, to which she elaborated that she had grown up in New York herself and was of a similar age to Goldin. We discussed how the work had generated various memories from her youth including the hardships and highlights of living in the city during a time of such poverty amongst artists. What stood out in my mind is that Goldin had actually created this piece to exhibit to her friends and peers at the time to show life as it was happening, and now many years later within a museum, the work still resonates with her peers.

This work has become iconic for its documentation of subjects that had long been recognised as ‘taboo’, such as the AIDS virus, domestic abuse and drug use. Although many other artists have also focused on these subjects, what is unique about The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is that Goldin wasn’t just documenting this life, she played an active role.

One of the faces we see cropping up again and again is that of the actress Cookie Mueller, who Goldin had been a very close friend of since they met in 1976 and who she stated was “the most fabulous woman I’d ever seen”. The slideshow finishes with an image of Mueller at her husband Virrorio Scarpati’s funeral followed two months later by her own open casket after her death from the AIDS virus in 1989.

Also featured within this exhibition are sixteen rarely seen drawings by Goldin which she has created in recent years; and a series of photographs taken in Ireland during two of her visits, in 1979 and 2002, which have never been on display before.

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Nan Goldin, Weekend Plans, Installation view IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2017. Photo: Denis Mortell.

Displayed in the adjoining room to these images is a room entirely dedicated to Vivienne Dick and her son, Jesse. We see images taken over a long period of time and in many different places, from New York, to London and right here in Dublin. This work displays the close friendship both artists have shared with one another since their first meeting on Thanksgiving in 1978, shortly after Goldin had moved to New York.

By Ciara Magee – Visitor Engagement Team, IMMA.

This exhibition runs concurrently with Vivienne Dick’s exhibition 93% STARDUST which is also in its final week ending this Sunday 15 October 2017. Admission to both exhibitions is free.


AZURE at IMMA – for people living with dementia and their family, friends and carers

Are you living with dementia or do you know someone who is? IMMA is one of the lead partners of a programme called Azure which aims to make art galleries and museums around Ireland dementia-friendly spaces. Azure explores how people with dementia-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, and the people who care for them, can have a deeper involvement in cultural institutions and can participate in cultural activities.

Inspired by the ‘Meet Me at MoMA’ programme at MoMA, New York, Azure offers guided exhibition tours specifically designed to support people living with dementia and their family, friends or professional carers, to engage with the art work on show and enjoy a social museum experience.


Being in the moment with visual art

Ciaran McKinney, Head of Arts and Culture at Age and Opportunity, says the arts are
increasingly recognised “as being really helpful for people living with dementia. In an interview with the Irish Times he spoke about how “It can be an experience of being in the now. It’s not about the past. Also, it’s not about needing to refer only to safe material. People with dementia have the same rights as the rest of us to be shown something that is challenging, new or avant garde. To really hate an art work is just as valid as loving a piece”.

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Gallery Voices: Touching, intriguing, descriptive, upsetting, a response to The Passion According to Carol Rama

In our Gallery Voices series Evy Richard, from our Visitor Engagement Team, takes us on an insightful journey through the exhibition The Passion According to Carol Rama exploring the extraordinary life and work of Italian artist Carol Rama.

The exhibition is now in its final week ending this Bank Holiday Monday 1 August.
Admission Free.



Carol Rama in her atelier home, Turin, ©Photo: Pino Dell’Aquila, 1989. © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino

A tour of this exhibition is like having a chat. The curators at IMMA have tried to replicate the artist’s apartment in Turin, Italy, where she lived like a recluse for most of her life, until her death on the 25th of September last year. Meandering from room to room, through corridors and passing alcoves is also like being on a journey, discovering the nooks and crannies of Rama’s home.

It is quite dark, lit low and black walls face you at mid corridor.

And the title, The Passion. Double meaning here? The deep impulse to create, paint, draw, no matter what, where nor with what. The main emotion running through 80 odd years of this artist’s life. Maybe also the spiritual Passion, a transcending pain, exposure, the spiritual battle to overcome a lowly “human condition”.

Born in 1918 into an affluent industrialist family, she started drawing at 14 and “ I never stopped, never” (Carol Rama). Her life takes a u-turn when her mother (also maybe her grand-mother?) is interned in a psychiatric hospital. Family conflict, business ruin, a father ousted as homosexual, his suicide? The conjectures are still rife as Carol herself kept a firm and unpredictable rein on her own history. Her death last September may now open more windows into her life. Continue reading

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Gallery Voices: Visitors to Patrick Hennessy’s exhibition discover how unusual he was for an Irish artist of his time

In the next blog of our Gallery Voices series Olive Barrett, from our Visitor Engagement Team, gives us an insight into how visitors to the exhibition Patrick Hennessy De Profundis are surprised with how talented, skilled and forward thinking Hennessy actually was.


Main image Men bathing, Étretat, c. 1954, Installation view Patrick Hennesy De Profundis IMMA 2016. Photo Jed Niezgo

The Patrick Hennessy exhibition, De Profundis, showing in the East Wing Galleries since March this year is now in its final week ending this Sunday 24 July. For many visitors to the gallery this is the first time that they have experienced Hennessy’s work and many people are of the opinion that the work is unusual for an Irish artist of his time. Patrick Hennessy was born in Cork in 1915, educated in Scotland and worked for a time under the Cubist master Fernandez Legér after winning a scholarship to Paris in 1937. The main perception from the public is that he was an artist and painter who had been forgotten about and had not readily received the acclaim that he deserved in a National Institution until now.

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Patrick Hennessy, Portrait-Figures (Self-Portrait), 1972, oil on canvas, 101.5 x 127 cm, National Gallery of Ireland Collection, Photo © National Gallery of Ireland, Photography courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland.

The admiration for his work is obvious as one is present in any one of the four rooms or along the main corridor of the exhibition. For those who were familiar with the artist’s work, they had never realised how prolific a painter he was, the high skill level and execution of his subject matter or the diverse and avant-garde manner in which he painted. Hennessy was also a gay artist who openly expressed his sexuality in his work when it was not commonplace to do so and when it was in fact illegal in the state to be gay. This has been significant to many visitors not only artistically, culturally and socially but also regarding equality in light of the recent marriage equality referendum and rights for the LGBT communities. Viewers have been overheard saying that they had not realised the symbolism surrounding the wearing of a red tie to signify male interest and sexual orientation as is seen in the paintings, Portrait-Figures (Self Portrait), 1972, and the recent addition to the exhibition, Portrait of a Young Man. Continue reading

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Curator’s Voice :: Diving into the National Collections with Dorothy Cross

Golden Beads, c.900-700 BC (NMI) with Meditation Painting 28, 1997 (IMMA) by Patrick Scott Denis Mortell Photography

Golden Beads, c.900-700 BC (NMI) with Meditation Painting 28, 1997 (IMMA) by Patrick Scott
Denis Mortell Photography

As Trove comes to a close this week we asked IMMA curator Johanne Mullan to tell us a little more about how the exhibition came into being. You can also listen to a brief introduction to Trove by IMMA Director Sarah Glennie on our IMMA Soundcloud.

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