Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale : Eimear Walshe: ROMANTIC IRELAND
Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale : Eimear Walshe: ROMANTIC IRELAND
Sto caricando la mappa ....

Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale


Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale


Eimear Walshe
April 20–November 24, 2024


Pre-opening: April 17–19


Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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“The work you young men tear apart: Strong men and women piling stones”

Ireland at Venice will present ROMANTIC IRELAND, an exhibition by Eimear Walshe, for the 60th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, curated by Sara Greavu and Project Arts Centre.

Through a practice that spans video, sculpture, publishing, sound, and performance, Eimear Walshe’s work traces the legacies of late 19th century land contestation in Ireland and its relation to private property, sexual conservatism, and the built environment.

ROMANTIC IRELAND comprises a multi-channel video installation and an operatic soundtrack housed in an immersive sculpture. Set on the site of an unfinished earth build, the video stages soapy, dramatic encounters between character archetypes from the 19th–21st centuries. These figures occupy an abstracted ruin, a site under simultaneous construction and demolition. The pavilion soundtrack is a five-voice opera describing the scene of an eviction, composed by Amanda Feery with a libretto by Walshe.

Walshe’s project for Venice explores the complex politics of collective building through the Irish tradition of the meitheal: a gang of workers, neighbours, kith and kin who come together to build, harvest and cooperate in mutual aid. It depicts a frenzied and fraught engagement with the ancient labour-intensive practice of earth building, a form of construction with an 11,000 year history and local iterations across the world. The video work was shot on location at sustainable skills centre, Common Knowledge, on Ireland’s west coast. Led by choreographer Mufutau Yusuf, a group of seven performers, including the artist, enact characters in constantly rupturing historical dyads. This was filmed on four mobile phones passed between each actor, blurring the traditional distinction between director, performer, and camera person.

Made in the shadow of the ongoing housing crisis in Ireland, the installation becomes, variously, a building site of possibility, a wrestling ring for Ireland’s generational and class antagonisms, a space of tender care, and a structure made into a cold ruin by the social death of eviction. The exhibition forces encounters between historic moments, and draws out their parallel power dynamics and affective registers; their forms of labour, conflict and pleasure; the entangled histories of sexuality, property, and the state.

“There are a lot of insights from Irish history that we owe it to the wider world to share. Life on the island—its history of colonisation, revolution, and partition—provides so many opportunities to re-enact historical traumas, so many invitations to betrayal of our past, our neighbours, and ourselves. We are a colonised nation, and yet we aid in the colonisation of others. Some of us were dispossessed, and went on to do the same ourselves. History doesn’t split the difference. This is where the work for Venice emerges from.” —Eimear Walshe

“Walshe’s work draws on the swelling Irish cultural revival, but is not nostalgic.  It is not nativist or relying on imagined mythologies, but is opening out and reconfiguring, sensitively displacing and embracing these elements as it prefigures alternative social relationships.” —Sara Greavu, curator

Ireland at Venice is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council of the Ireland. With Principal Sponsorship from Dublin City Council for Ireland at Venice 2024. The Arts Council supports the national tour of ROMANTIC IRELAND in 2025.

With support from The National Museum of Ireland, Longford County Council, The Limerick School of Art and Design, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), and the UCD School of Art History, the Embassy of Ireland Italy, and our patrons and donors: Keith & Yvonne Browne, Peter Crowley, Anna Devlin & Paul Gannon, Gerard & Monica Flood, Emma & Fred Goltz, Helen Kinsella, Adrian & Jennifer O’Carroll, Louise Church, Paul Duggan, Niall Ennis, Kathy Gilfillan, Simone Janssens, Ann Kennedy, Lochlann Quinn, Dave Raethorne, Odette Rocha, Richard Whelan.