IMMA presents Primal Architecture

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It might be getting cold outside but in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), things are getting all hot and bothered. Clammy palms and rosy cheeks at the ready.

The new exhibition, Primal Architecture, combines works from international and Irish artists exploring sexuality, pseudo-autobiography, identity, power and nostalgia.

It is art so let’s not be immature. I said Art; you know art for arts sake, which explains a room, filled with coloured lumps of clay. But it’s art so therefore it must be brilliant, right?

There is a disclaimer at the door warning visitors and perverts alike that this exhibition contains adult themes and explicit imagery.

However, the warning is a futile attempt in the face of Irish conservatism, which has led to a nation with the sexual maturity of a gnat. That is, a very small and repressed gnat.

With baited breath you cross the threshold. I have read the disclaimer, I’m ready for it.

Entering the exhibition you are met with an assortment of books piled on wooden platforms. After reviewing the first book of poorly sketched vaginas I fell subject to my cultural identity, profusely blushing, with my equally awkward Irish counterparts gazing deeply and thoughtfully at the floor. No doubt wishing it would swallow them up.

The exhibition is split into eight rooms, forming an autonomous sequence of chapters displaying the artist’s interpretations of the human condition.

Borrowing its title from the work of influential American artist Mike Kelley in which he uses sculptural forms to map the history of his personal genealogy.

The highlight of the exhibition was the work of Kevin Atherton. His piece shows the artist arguing and conversing with his younger self on two screens. The double self-reflexive portrait is both amusing and poignant.

Leading to a series of photographs by artist Linder. The images are softly pornographic and to be frank, mundane; naked women with their flowers covered with large flowers.

As a whole the exhibition has the distinct feeling of something too big being pushed into a space too small leading to a disappointing performance and leaving the viewer feeling confused, a little frustrated and waiting for the all important climax which didn’t quite happen. Sigh.

As an art lover, I hate to criticise. It was an interesting exhibition. The name is perhaps too large for the tame portrayal of sexuality; a glimpse of renaissance cleavage or the tiny penises of Roman sculptures are arguably more erotic.

Quite simply, Primal Architecture, did not live up to what it said on the tin – or the disclaimer.

Exhibition runs from November 8th 2014- March 1st 2015. Entry is free.

Images: Sarah Fitzgerald

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