IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art

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Open House Junior at IMMA October 2016


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016

This October IMMA hosted an exciting workshop for teens, as part of Irish Architecture Foundation’s Open House Dublin.The session was an exploration of space and time by an impressive group of young people, and was facilitated by Paola Catizone and A. Legarreta (‘maken’) from the IMMA Visitor Engagement Team. As we look back at the year that was we wanted to capture some of our highlights, so have asked Paola and  maken to share their memories of the event.

The overall theme for the workshop was Time, Space and Presence, which takes as its cue the current exhibition IMMA Collection: A Decade. This collection exhibition is framed by a defined period of time – the last decade – and  includes many works that are time-based or time-related. Many of the works also underline the importance of ‘presence’.

In our workshop we engaged with several different spaces at IMMA: the grounds; the West Wing Gallery to view A Decade, and Studio 10 – one of the studio spaces on site. We focused on the contrast between linear time (where time is an absolute physical reality, and where the passage of time is independent of consciousness) versus ‘being in the now’, and on the effect of architectural space on human daily experience.

We started in the grounds of IMMA with maken, using a Time Machine…


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016

We built a Time Machine with the group. Yes, we did.

Participants assembled at the base camp/Studio 10 to meet their crewmates and be briefed on the space-time hopping planned for the day. The usual safety announcements were made, including the possibility that we would all be vaporized in the time machine, accidentally transported to Mars, etc, etc.

304 seconds later (4 seconds behind schedule, but we are at IMMA, not NASA), we left base camp. The Krono-nauts, aka Time-travellers, marched in formation to the designated launch site South of the RHK Clock Tower (yes, most appropriate). As we marched, we signaled our presence by our team flag – a pair of futuristic wings that flapped in the air as we walked. We carried with us our very own home-made Time Machine, which, conveniently, had been designed to fit into a bucket (see image above). The Machine consisted of an ‘electomagnetic’ gold-silver ‘aeronautical’ drapery, 16.2m long, threaded with our own imaginary experimental metal alloy, immanite™…  and we were off!

After announcing the first destination, the Krono-nauts were asked to close their eyes. With a din of strange machine-sounds (closely resembling the ding-ding of a pantry-bell and the gong of… well… a meditation-Gong), we navigated through the space-time continuum, for what really and truly felt like 5 seconds. Without opening our eyes, like human-compasses, the crew were instructed to turn their bodies south-east to face the exact location. When they opened their eyes, the pilot described the building/ structure/ site they were beholding…

This space-time jump was repeated a number of times. Among other destinations we travelled to….

…the year 974, the outskirts of Dubh Linn in Hibernia. A hut Built by a young hermit called Maignenn, later known as ‘the place of Maignenn, or… ‘Kill-Mainham’.

…1679, Paris, France. ‘Les Invalides’ building. Officer Arthur Forbes falls in love with this military retirement home and persuades king Charles II to build a replica in Dublin.

…1880, Kandahar, Afġānistān. The site of an anti-colonial battle. A burial place will be erected in the IMMA gardens for a member of the British colonial troops at Kandahar. The warrior, who received a medal from Queen Victoria, was Volonel, an Arab horse.

…1940, Berlin, Deutschland. Detlev-Rohwedder building, the largest office building in Europe, headquarters of the Reich Air Ministry. A nameless secretary files a photograph of the RHK taken by the Luftwaffe. The file, called ‘Operation Green’, holds tactical information for a Nazi invasion of Ireland.

After several such space-time jumps, and safely returned to the launch-site, Krono-nauts were told that they had all now become Human Time Machines, with the ability to take other people back in time to all those places they had learned about, simply by repeating the stories they had heard.

We then moved to the West Wing to explore Old and New” tour, with Paola

Amanda Coogan, Medea, 2001, chromogenic print from digital file, mounted on diabond, 92 x 123 cm, edition 2/3, IMMA Collection

Within A Decade, we looked at works by Mark Dion, Kevin Atherton, Amanda Coogan, Corban Walker, Alexis Harding, Dennis Mc Nulty and Philippe Taaffe as each one of these works invites reflections on the passing of time, with materials, media and use of space carefully and deliberately chosen by the artists to create sharp contrasts between present and past. Each art work inhabits the surrounding space on its own terms, sparking up a dynamic between contemporary art and historical architecture. The walls of the RHK are soaked in history and yet they comfortably host artworks that, while  in conversation with the past, are of the present and speak to it.

Atherton’s performative video installation is one of IMMA’s latest acquisitions supported by The Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection. It consists of projections of two videos featuring present time Atherton in dialogue with his younger self, one filmed in 1978 and another in 2014. The older film has been re-edited to simulate this dialogue, and the arrangement of the projections within the room forces viewers to turn to look left and right, to follow the conversation, in a way that makes us participate in the performance.

Harding examines time from a different perspective. By using two painting mediums –oil and emulsion—with different drying times the artist can exhibit wet, dripping paintings which continue to form and change as you watch them, changing over time to dynamic effect.

McNulty’s multi-media installation, also supported through the Hennessy Art Fund, takes as its point of departure texts from Olaf Stapleton’s fictitious timeline for ‘Last and First Men‘, which he displays in a looped LCD. The timeline imaginatively extends from prehistory to a dystopian future threatened by a solar catastrophe. The windows in the room are partially covered by orange gel sheets while foil plaster boards reconfigure the shape of the walls and an acapella version of  “The sun always shines on TV” by Norwegian 1980s band A-ha is the looped sound track. We find ourselves immersed within a sensory environment that hints at a future human existence lived in synthetic, manmade spaces surrounded by a threatening external world, no longer habitable.

In the studio


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016

Having looked at the work in the galleries and explored the grounds the group decamped to the studio where they were invited to respond to the exhibition in ways that were physically active and sensorily rich – breaking away from a traditional reliance on the use of paints and crayons to make art.

The workshops started with an ice-breaker name-game, a visualization on architectural space, and a movement exercise by Augusto Boal. In another exploration we imagined the world at various stages in the next 1,000 years, a sci-fi fantasy as a response to Dennis McNulty’s installation, with the resulting texts jumbled up and read anonymously: “I don’t think there will be a planet Earth in the future”, one read, and “Aliens will live among us”, another. The group also created an installation built by writing their hopes for the future on coloured strips of paper, and attaching them to thread crisscrossing the Studio space: “Clean water for everyone” and “Infinite Knowledge” could be read. The process was simple but the result was visually and emotionally impactful. It was a privilege to witness this young group’s hopes and thoughts on the future. May all their hopes come true!


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016



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The Gordon Lambert Archive Project (Continued)

This is the second of two blogs by Ciara Ball from IMMA’s Visitor Engagement Team introducing Gordon Lambert and his life as a collector and patron as documented through his archive.  A selection of material from the Gordon lambert Archive was on display during National Heritage Week.

Image of suitcase -detail- Photographer Chris Jones

Gordon Lambert’s suitcase, Photo by Chris Jones

Throughout the early 1980’s Gordon Lambert travelled to meetings and exhibitions as a member of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art and continued to support Irish artists and build his own collection. Influenced by his experiences with the International Council and the desire to make his art works more available to a public audience his attention became increasingly focused on the need for a national museum of modern art in Ireland. By the time of his retirement from Jacob’s  in 1986 he had become a prominent figure in a growing movement to create a national museum. By the next year the project had gained the approval of then Taoiseach Charles Haughey and with the promise of Gordon’s artworks as the basis for a nation collection debate began about the best location for a new museum.  A city centre site on the Quays known as ‘Stack A’ and the recently restored Royal Hospital Kilmainham divided public opinion until Haughey ended the discussion by announcing IMMA’s establishment in the Royal Hospital in October 1987.

Scanned 1992 Gordon Lambert Exhibition at IMMA reduced 2

Gordon Lambert exhibition at IMMA, 1992

IMMA opened on May 25th 1991 with an inaugural exhibition entitled Inheritance and Transformation. A large selection of works from the Gordon Lambert Collection were first shown in their new home the following year. Over the intervening twenty five years the IMMA Collection has formed the basis of numerous exhibitions, both onsite and in venues throughout the country as part of the museum’s National Programme.

As well as serving on the advisory committee and the first two boards of IMMA during the 1990s, Gordon was a board member of the Art Committee of the Ulster Museum and the Ireland – America Arts Exchange Foundation. He was made an Honorary Doctor in Laws by Trinity College Dublin in 1999 and ended the decade by receiving a Business2Arts award for lifetime commitment to the arts in Ireland.  Despite ill health in his later years, evidence from the archive attests to his continual engagement, through print and correspondence when not possible in person, with all aspects of Ireland’s cultural life, and with the enjoyment and commitment which had always driven him to add so much to it.

Scanned colour photograph GL  with artworks by Arp 2

Gordon Lambert at home with his Collection

Material from the Gordon Lambert Archive was on display during National Heritage week. The cataloguing of the archive is ongoing. For more information please contact Ciara Ball  or Nuria Carballeira, Collections Department, IMMA.  Visitors who are interested in Gordon Lambert can also find the works from his collection donated to IMMA here.



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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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IMMA announces landmark Lucian Freud Project for Ireland alongside an expanded 2016 programme of new work

IMMA announces landmark Lucian Freud Project for Ireland
alongside an expanded 2016 programme of new work celebrating the radical thinkers and activists whose vision for courageous social change in Ireland and beyond remains relevant to us today.

IMMA is pleased announce highlights from our 2016 exhibition programme today, Tue 8 March 2016.

Sarah Glennie, Director of IMMA, said: “We are delighted to announce today that the IMMA Collection has secured an important long-term loan of 50 works by Lucian Freud (1922-2011); one of the greatest figurative painters of the 20th-century. From September 2016, the IMMA Collection: Freud Project will be presented in a new, dedicated Freud Centre in the IMMA Garden Galleries for five years. With this extraordinary resource IMMA will create a centre for Freud research with a special programme of exhibitions, education partnerships, symposia and research that will maximise this exciting opportunity on offer in Ireland.” Continue reading

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Curator’s Voice: Kissing in public

As part of the Curator’s Voice series we invited curatorial duo RGKSKSRG (Rachael Gilbourne and Kate Strain) discuss their project This is Public & Sexy, a one-night collection of artworks, choreographers and minor dramas, performed live, which co-incidentally took place on the closing weekend of What We Call Love.

This is Public & Sexy map

Emma Haugh, “The Re-appropriation of Sensuality” (Detail) also featuring This is Public & Sexy printed map designed by Alex Synge.

What We Call Love coincidentally shared its closing weekend with that of our residency as independent curators RGKSKSRG at studio 468, a studio based in St. Andrew’s Community Centre, Rialto, Dublin 8. Located a stone’s throw from the museum, the concerns of our community-based residency and that of the major exhibition at IMMA, were spun from mutual desires. This text serves as a footnote marking this moment of interest in the softer, wetter things in life – desire, sexuality, love – as poised across two very different spaces within Dublin city. This rush of feelings to the site of presentation could be read as reflecting the collective impulse of a society to cast and hold a space where the complexities of love and sexuality can be celebrated, in public. Continue reading