Reflecting the seismic changes in Ireland’s political, social, economic, and cultural realities of the 1990s, contemporary Irish artists have begun to redefine traditional identities, raising questions about the relationships between female and male, urban and rural, North and South, history and the present. This struggle over identities that previously marginalized Ireland and societies like it has now become central to current cultural debates around the globe.
From the Poetic to the Political presents a reading of Irish art of the nineties and examines the repositioning of Irish identity in works drawn primarily from the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, which itself opened in 1991. The exhibition brings together works by emerging and more established artists, who live and work in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland or abroad. Their questioning voices have initiated a dialogue within their society and contexts beyond Ireland, employing painting, photography, sculpture, video, and installation to explore subjects ranging from the personal and poetic to the political. They share a basic understanding that the language they use cannot be regarded as an innocent carrier of meaning but must be seen as an integral part of their subject. These concerns – and the way they are conveyed through new interpretations on conventional mediums as well as nontraditional materials – link these works to new art being made elsewhere in the world.
Accompanying this exhibition is the catalogue Irish Art Now: From the Poetic to the Political, edited by Kim Levin, Declan McGonagle, and Fintan O’Toole, and co-published by Independent Curators International (ICI) and Merrell Holberton Publishers, London, in association with the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Please visit our shop for more information.