Enshrouded in this room are sculptures from the work Conversation Piece (Dublin) by Spanish artist Juan Muñoz, originally created for his exhibition at the museum. Following the exhibition, he loaned the work to the museum, asking for a case of vintage Irish whiskey each year of the loan in return.
However, before the first case could be sent, Muñoz died unexpectedly.
Since that time, now five years, a final agreement has not been reached between the Museum and his estate about the work’s fate, and the work has not been shown since. However, at the same time, the work remains nearly iconic in the Museum’s context – it is used to promote IMMA, it appears on the web site, in guidebooks, and catalogues. Many rumours have grown up around the artwork: that it is no longer at the Museum, that it cannot be shown, that its status is unknown. In many ways, by not being actually seen, it now occupies a greater space within people’s minds than it does as a physical object.
By being absent, artwork can expand its context and be re-defined – the absence of the artwork can be as important as its presence. Artwork is changed by its viewer and circumstances, but the viewer does not necessarily need to see the work itself to engage with it. The absence of the artwork is a form that incorporates the artwork’s situation and your role as the viewer.