Temple Bar Gallery + Studios To Host New Ailbhe Ní Bhriain Exhibition

Temple Bar Gallery + Studios will present Ailbhe Ní Bhriain’s solo exhibition, Inscriptions of an Immense Theatre. 

The artist’s new immersive film is set in three distinct locations, each of which has been transformed into a site of dreamlike strangeness. The work begins from within the interior of British Museum. Slowly revealing the museum’s earliest collection; it moves next to the site of a temporary accommodation centre reminscent of those used to house asylum seekers in Ireland.

The camera glides past exterior views of the location’s anonymous units; before ending within an empty limestone quarry, tracking the rock surfaces and factory interiors. The gallery say linking the three seemingly disconnected sites is an exploration of inscription, loss and imperial legacy.

The title of the work derives from the earliest known museological writing in the western world – Samuel Quiccheberg’s Inscriptions or Titles of the Immense Theatre (1565), which details the practice of museums and the organisation of the world’s objects into classes and subclasses. This was essentially an instruction manual for the creation of private collections, with an explicit western imperialist agenda.

The gallery’s full description of the artwork can be read below.

The museum, here, is scrutinised as a capsule of  early colonial thinking, which disrupted the continuity of the cultures it claims to preserve. Acting as a metaphor for this troubled narrative are the rock surfaces of the limestone quarry, which reveal the deep time of geological history but, again, through the very destruction of that history; the sprayed industry notation and gouges left by machinery speak of the violent extraction behind this geological revelation. Finally, the accommodation centre speaks to a mundane and vivid reality of displacement – a scenario of human dislocation that in the contemporary moment symbolises the ongoing dark aftermath of Quiccheberg’s imperial theatre.

Throughout the film, a voiceover performed by Irish actress Eileen Walsh (Catastrophe, Women on the Verge) references Quiccheberg’s original museological text through collaged fragments.

Ní Bhriain’s exhibition debuts at a launch on December 13. It will run until February 2. Admission is free.

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