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Exhibitions > Past Exhibitions

Mobile Encounters: Documenting the Early Years of Performance Art in Ireland

12 December 2014 – 15 February 2015

Project Spaces, IMMA

Image: Nigel Rolfe, Zebra, 1978–79, performance using flour and soot, Dorothy Walker Collection, National Irish Visual Arts Library.

Mobile Encounters presents a selection of ephemera and artworks documenting the early years of performance art in Ireland.

The exhibition is curated in partnership between the National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) and IMMA. NIVAL is a public research resource that holds the world’s largest collection of documentary information on Irish 20th and 21st century art. An important objective of IMMA’s newly established Project Spaces is to consider how a museum engages with its collection, artists, curators and visitors.

Drawing on both national collections, the exhibition traces the people, organisations and events that contributed to shaping a culture of ‘mobile encounters’ for performance art from the early 1970s to the late 1990s.

The task of documenting an inherently impermanent artform such as performance raises critical questions about how recordings of ‘live action’ are invariably mediated. The residual traces presented in this exhibition are as much a visual and documentary record of what happened as an indicator of the gaps in collecting–they signpost what is not known about the history of performance art in Ireland and lead us to consider why.

Mobile Encounters presents a selection of videos digitised from NIVAL’s Audiovisual Collection and ephemera from NIVAL’s Artist, Gallery and Subject files. A selection of posters documenting twenty five years of activity at various art centres in Ireland and abroad are presented alongside works from IMMA’s collection.

The opening of Mobile Encounters included a live performance by artist Dominic Thorpe, somebody else's mouth (2014) in the IMMA Project Spaces. Click here to see photos of the event.

To find out more information on the exhibition please visit the IMMA blog here

For further information please see: www.nival.ie

On the Blog

Co-curator Seamus McCormack tells the IMMA blog more about the exhibition. Read on

Talks and Lectures

What is....Performance Art
As part of IMMA's 'What is...?' programme, artist Amanda Coogan presents ‘What is Performance Art? in which she considers the role of the archive in relation to Irish performance art during the 70s and 80s. This talk took place on Saturday 17 January 2015. Listen back to this talk on soundcloud

Aine Phillips | Performance Art in Ireland: A History
Writer, curator and multi-media performance artist Aine Phillips presents some of the research for her book Performance Art in Ireland: A History which examines the evolving practice and challenges of writing and researching Irish performance art, and how this informs new art historical studies of contemporary performance and live art both nationally and internationally.
This talk took place on Saturday 17 January 2015, IMMA. Listen back to the talk on Soundcloud

Lunchtime Talk | Archiving Performance: Collecting, Presenting and Mediating
Friday 6 Feb, 1.15 -2.00pm | Lecture Room | Free
Jennifer Fitzgibbon (art historian and NIVAL Administrator) examines issues with forming an archive of performance and how impermanent practices are documented, stored and presented for future use, with particular reference to the collections of the National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL). Audio coming soon

Conversations Revisited | Nigel Rolfe + Alastair MacLennan 
Fri 13 Feb 2015, 1-2pm | Project Spaces | Free        
Prominent artists Nigel Rolfe and Alastair MacLennan revisit previous conversations and statements published in the Irish art magazine Circa in 1980s and 1990s. Guided by recent critical interest in writing about performance art, the conversation looks at the changes in thinking past and present. Presented as part of Mobile Encounters, this discussion is moderated by Catherine Marshall. Audio coming soon




Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
Tel: +353-1-6129900, Email:
info@imma.ie