press release

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck (VE) and Media Farzin (US/Iran), Erik Bulatov (RU), gerlach en koop (NL), Ida Lennartsson (SE), Raqs Media Collective (IN)

Opening reception: Thu 20 Apr from 5.30pm to 7.30pm – Floor talk at 5pm from Curator David Upton with Artists Ida Lennartsson and gerlach en koop all welcome!

An international group exhibition that delves into the story how 24 Orthodox icons came to be housed in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. Purchased in Istanbul by a British Diplomat in the early 1920’s during the fall out of World War One and the Russian Revolution, the paintings found their way to Ireland in the 1960’s.

The exhibition explores the ideas emanating from this story, of countries dissolved and populations dispersed, meditating on the role that arts plays in the times of upheaval.

British diplomat, WED Allen, purchased these icons in the early 1920s in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul during the fallout of the Greco-Turkish war, a time of huge population and cultural displacement which followed on the heels of the Russian Revolution, Civil War and World War One. For several years the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul was full of the debris of those times including many icons.

Purchased in 1968 from WED Allen by the National Gallery of Ireland these icons remained in storage until in 2011. Five of them underwent conservation work and became part of the Masterpieces of the Collection exhibition.

This exhibition looks at ideas emanating from this story, the impossibility of the icons ever returning to their place of origin or resuming their original function. Their country of origin, Byzantium, having ceased to exist in 1451, and their communities being dispersed in the early 1920’s, yet still often being referred to in literature as a symbol of a place out of time, such as WB Yeats’s poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’.

The exhibition will bring together five contemporary art practices Erik Bulatov, Ida Lennartsson, gerlach en koop, Raqs Media Collective, and Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck & Media Farzin. It stems from and seeks to open ideas of dissolution and dispossession, loss, of cultures in crisis and futures altered, of cataclysm – but more so the what happens after?

The title Colorless green ideas sleep furiously is a sentence composed by Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures as an example of a sentence that is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical. An intentionally and egregiously meaningless sentence in this context alludes to the rise of the “post truth” political landscape spurred on by the 24 hour a day opportunistic and populist media and politicians.

Guest Curated by David Upton