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Exhibitions > Past Exhibitions

As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics

13 April - 27 August 2017    “Book Now
Main Galleries and IMMA Site

Hilma af Klint, Altarpiece, No 1, Group X, Series Altarpieces, 1915 , Oil and metal leaf on canvas, Photo: Albin Dahlström / Moderna Museet

Featuring an exciting selection of modern masterworks and landmark contemporary art works by Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke, Cameron - many being shown for the first time in Ireland - and new commissions created specifically for this exhibition by Linder, Matt Copson, Stephan Doitschinoff, Alan Butler and others.

Opening with a Vedic spiritual blessing at 12.15pm on Thursday 13 April 2017, IMMA presents one of its most ambitious and compelling shows exploring how the spiritual endures in our everyday lives. In particular, As Above, So Below considers the role played by certain spiritualist and alternative doctrines, such as the occult or mysticism, in the creation of abstract painting from its origins to the present digital age.

The arc of this exhibition spans a hundred years from the abstract masterworks of Kandinsky, af Klint and Kupka to contemporary work by Steve McQueen and Bruce Nauman and new commissions by Alan Butler and Linder among others. As Above, So Below resists becoming a comprehensive survey that traces the role of art and spirituality however. Instead, it presents perspectives on spirituality from a range of unique viewpoints in over 200 works, many of which have never been seen in Ireland before. It extends beyond the gallery space with new works made specifically for the IMMA site and a series of performances, events, talks and film screenings taking place during the exhibition. The exhibition’s historical gaze has a particular focus on female artists from the last century whose work remained uncovered until recently in the now shifting narrative of art history.

The title, As Above, So Below, echoes an often quoted saying, employed by artists, poets, writers and astrologers alike, as a means to describe and understand the mysterious but familiar world around us. To look at spirituality in such secular times is a provocation in itself, and the exhibition traces and questions the genesis of deep religious, mystical and occult beliefs that continue to shape the ideas of contemporary artists today. Writing in the 1960s, the critic Susan Sontag claimed that, “Every era has to reinvent the project of ‘spirituality’ for itself”, and through this exhibition IMMA asks what the project of spirituality looks like in 2017.

Transcending the limitations of what is traditionally perceived as ‘spiritual’, this exhibition embraces the occult, the otherworld, human consciousness, mysticism and ritual, creating a space to reflect and explore these gateways, or portals, to wonder.

As Above, So Below resists becoming a comprehensive survey and is presented instead as a series of thematic chapters that each explore a different aspect of spirituality. The exhibition extends beyond the gallery space with new works made specifically for the IMMA site and a series of performances, events, talks and film screenings taking place during the exhibition.

Hilma af Klint | Kenneth Anger | David Beattie | Nora Berman | Annie Besant | Agnieszka Brzezanska | Alan Butler | James Lee Byars | Cameron | Marcus Coates | Ira Cohen | Ithell Colquhoun | Matt Copson | Stephan Doitschinoff | Hayden Dunham | Stephen DunneSusan Hiller | Koo Jeong A. | Alejandro Jodorowsky | Wassily Kandinsky | Rachid Koraïchi | Emma Kunz | Frantisek Kupka | Paul Laffoley | Liliane Lijn | Linder | Josiah McElheny | Steve McQueen | Henri Michaux | Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky | Pádraic E. Moore (curatorial advisor) | Bruce Nauman | Austin Osman Spare | Sigmar Polke | The Propeller Group | Patrick Pye | John Russell | Eoghan Ryan | Aura Satz | Suzanne Treister | Grace Weir, amongst others.

A fully-illustrated book is published to accompany the exhibition which features contributions from Erik Davis, Jennifer Higgie, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, Dr Tina Kinsella, Linder, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Rachael Thomas, Sam Thorne and Maurice Tuchman, amongst others. Price €20 available to buy from the IMMA Shop.


Wednesday - Sunday: €8/5 “Book Now
Tuesday: Free

Always free for IMMA Members, full-time students and under 18’s*

*Visitors are advised that this exhibition contains nudity and some explicit imagery that may not be suitable for all audiences. Please talk to a member of our Visitor Engagement team if you need any more information.

To guarantee admission to this exhibition please pre-book your preferred timeslot online in advance using the BOOK NOW button above. Entry is available at 45minute intervals throughout the day. Once admitted there is no time limit on your visit. Re-entry is not permitted.

Ticketholders for this major new exhibition at IMMA can also avail of free entry to IMMA Collection: Freud Project when visited on the same day, subject to availability. Please note that entry to the Freud Project is limited due to the fragile nature of the works and the intimate scale of the Freud Centre. Entry is therefore not guaranteed without a booking so you are strongly advised to pre-book your desired timeslots online for both exhibitions to ensure entry. When booking both exhibitions during the same ticketing session your shopping cart will automatically create a 2 for 1 discount.

Associated Events

Curators Introduction / As Above, So Below
Thursday 13 April 2017, 6.00 - 7.00pm / Lecture Room
Co-curators of the exhibition, As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics Sam Thorne, Director, Nottingham Contemporary, UK, and Rachael Thomas, Senior Curator, IMMA introduce this major group show. Joined by selected exhibition artists, this discussion will draw on the history of art and spirituality, spanning the last 100 years. Listen back to this discussion. 

Curator's Lunchtime Talk Series
Friday 19 May, 1.15-2pm, Drop-in
Meeting Point/Main Reception, Free
Join Rachael Gilbourne, Curator Exhibitions, IMMA, for an insightful walkthrough of this exhibition.
Exhibition fee applies.

IFI / IMMA Screening Series / 6 - 31 May
In response to As Above, So Below, the IFI and IMMA present a special series of selected films that looks at narratives of mysticism, occult and transcendence in feature titles and artists experimental film. Full list of films are: 

Sat 06 May 2017 @ 4pm | Wings of Desire / Der Himmel über Berlin 
Wed 10 May 2017 @ 6:30pm | The Double Life of Veronique
Wed 17 May 2017 @ 6:30pm | Images
Wed 24 May 2017 @ 6:30pm | The Holy Mountain
Tue 30 May 2017 @ 6:30pm | Shopping Bag Spirits and Freeway Fetishes + Invocation of My Demon Brother
Wed 30 May 2017 @ 6:30pm | Winter Light / Nattvardsgästerna 

Book Launch Event / Even the Dead Rise Up / Convened by Francis McKee / 23 May
A discursive mediation on mysticism, the occult and political dissent. Drawing on a personnel journey of becoming a spiritual medium, and the people and practices encountered. Convened by Francis McKee, Irish writer and renowned curator working in Glasgow as Research fellow at the Glasgow School of Art, and Director, Centre of Contemporary Art, Glasgow, UK. Book launch to follow. Listen back to this discussion.

Faith of the Faithless / Simon Critchley / 7 June
How do beliefs lead people to act in the world? From the paradox of politics and religion, this talk contemplates structures of faith and the deficit of moral life and ethical action in neoliberal society. Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy, The New School, New York, and prolific writer, scholar of continental philosophy and phenomenology. (Postponed until further notice)

Art as Compass towards the Future / Dom Mark Patrick Hederman / 20 June 
Benedictine monk and writer Mark Patrick Hederman addresses the role artists can play in the future. Hederman discusses his proposition that art is its own kind of religion and therefore is prophetic. Hederman draws on his scholarship of art and psychology and living a monastic life in the 21st century. Listen back to this talk.

The Lure of Lakes / Michael Harding / 4 July
Michael Harding, author, playwright and Irish Times columnist, talks with great honesty and wit about, life, love, the sublime and pursuits of spiritual transformation. The talk offers reflection on Harding’s bestselling books Staring at Lakes, 2014 and Walking with Strangers, 2016. Listen back to this talk.

Artist Talk / Stephan Doitschinoff
Thursday 20 July, 1.15 - 2pm / Lecture Room
Brazilian artist Stephan Doitschinoff, currently exhibiting as part of As Above, So Below, returns to IMMA to create a unique outdoor performance as part of Wilder Beings Command on 29 July. Come and hear the artist speak about how motifs in religion and the military are used throughout his various configurations of the temple, the altar, the procession, and anthropomorphic characters. This talk begins with a short artist’s presentation, followed by a conversation with the artist on his new work Interventu (2017), presented in IMMA’s courtyard it is inspired by the Brazilian ritual and tradition in offering gifts to the saints. Listen back to this talk.

Tuesday 25 July, 6.30 – 8pm / IFI Cinema
Presented in partnership with As Above, So Below, aemi is delighted to collaborate with artist Susan MacWilliam to present Out of Body, a selection of films and talk that explore the psychic and physical spaces of body and landscape.
SCREENING : Psychic Edit, Susan MacWilliam / Witch’s Cradle Outtakes, Maya Deren /  State of Mind remix #4, Mairéad McClean /  Faint, Susan MacWilliam / The Black Sea, Jordan Baseman / Mountain Mist, Susan MacWilliam / Om, John Smith / Ray Gun Virus, Paul Sharits / The Last Person, Susan MacWilliam.
TALK: Following the screenings Susan MacWilliam will discuss Out of Body in the context of her own practice and collaboration with IFI, IMMA & AEMI PROJECTIONS.

Live Event / Wilder Beings Command / 29 July / All Ages / Free
Great Hall, Chapel, Formal Gardens & Meadow

Wilder Beings Command is an evening of live performance, music and choreography, to reach out and involve generations both young and old. Celebrating the outdoor site of the museum as an activated space, the evening stretches across the meadows, laces through the Formal Gardens and culminates within the Great Hall and the Chapel. It features moments of procession, ritual and collectivity, where visitors can play an active part in its unfolding. Artists will include Stephan Doitschinoff, Emily Mast, Edward Clydesdale Thomson, Mark Titchner and Stephen Dunne, amongst others. Further details

Artist Discussion / A Conversation with Alejandro Jodorowsky
Tuesday 15 August 2017, 1.00pm – 2.00pm / Lecture Room
Alejandro Jodorowsky and Rachael Thomas, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA come together in conversation to discuss the ongoing importance and influence of the tarot, spirituality, love and the occult in Jodorowsky’s legendary multidiscipline practice, considered by many one of the most accomplished artists and cinema directors of our time. Learn more.

Eoghan Ryan performance / The Modern Dance (In the Light of Today’s Questions)
17 August  / IMMA Galleries

An intimate performance work by Berlin-based Irish artist Eoghan Ryan, which runs over the course of an evening, The Modern Dance (In the Light of Today’s Questions) questions what constitutes the sacred and divine within secular western culture. It looks at ideas that are inherited from previous generations and how this forms our personal identities, specifically within an institutional setting. Incorporating sound, song, sculpture and moving image, the performance becomes a live multi-disciplinary installation in motion.

Please note: Booking will be available for the above events shortly. Join the IMMA Talks mailing list to keep up to date with our Talks programme.

Exhibition Resources

Read the Exhibition Guide.

Watch the exhibition video on YouTube.

Listen to an interview with co-curator Sam Thorne, Director, Nottingham Contemporary, UK, on Arena, RTE Radio 1.

Read Aidan Dunne's review of As Above, So Below in the Irish Times.

Read Gemma Tipton's piece about spirituality in art from The Irish Times.

Press Release

Supported by

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
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