Elliptical Affinities at Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda

November 2019
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16 November 2019 – 25 January 2020, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda
6 February – 22 March 2020, Limerick City Gallery of Art

Aideen Barry, Sarah Browne, Amanda Coogan, Dorothy Cross, Pauline Cummins, Rachel Fallon, Patricia Hurl, Jesse Jones, Breda Lynch, Alice Maher, Alanna O’Kelly, Kathy Prendergast, Louise Walsh

Since the mid 1980s an important tendency in art by Irish women has been to situate itself clearly in relation to the significant changes in the politics of the body in Ireland that began to take place during that decade, culminating in the recent upsurge of both activism and artwork in relation to the Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment. The revitalisation of feminism during the 1980s in response to the repressive attitudes of church and state also resulted in the emergence of a new generation of Irish women artists whose work was explicitly focused around the politics of the Irish female body.

An exhibition that explicitly focuses on tracking this ongoing conjunction of art and feminism in Ireland is long overdue, and in this sense Elliptical Affinities builds on and acknowledges precedents such as But Still Like Dust I’ll Rise curated by Vivienne Dick at Galway Arts Centre (2018) and the enmeshing of women’s history, temporality, embodiment and affect in Jesse Jones’ Tremble Tremble.

Rather than a straightforward linear chronology, Elliptical Affinities proposes something closer to the ‘elliptical traverse’ of Catherine de Zegher’s influential feminist exhibition Inside the Visible, exploring new genealogies of Irish women’s art indexed to the political. Central to this is the notion of femmage to investigate temporal relationships of affinity and influence across generations of women artists, as in Amanda Coogan’s performance Snails: after Alice Maher (2010) which will be restaged in its entirety at the opening at Highlanes Gallery.

The exhibition will consist of loans from both public and private collections, and artist’s studios, including Pauline Cummins’s Inis t’Óirr, Alice Maher’s The Expulsion, Chant Down Greenham by Alanna O’Kelly, and Mr & Mrs. Holy Joe by Dorothy Cross; works remade especially for the exhibition like Louise Walsh Outlaws / Inlaws (first shown at In a State, Kilmainham Gaol, 1991), and more recent work by Breda Lynch, Sarah Browne and Rachel Fallon amongst others.

Elliptical Affinities opens at Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda Saturday 16th November 2019 until 25th January 2020. There will be a closing Symposium in Drogheda on Friday 17th January at Droichead Arts Centre. 6Skin by Aideen Barry and Alice Maher will be screened during the exhibition in the Arc Cinema Drogheda. The exhibition is presented with Limerick City Gallery Of Art where it will tour to, opening on Thursday 6th February, continuing until 22nd March, 2020.

Elliptical Affinities is curated by Dr Fionna Barber and Aoife Ruane. A full colour publication accompanies the exhibition with contributions from Gill Perry, Sarah Kelleher, Fionna Barber, and Ailbhe Smyth.