Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) presents a major museum wide exhibition, Self-Determination: A Global Perspective. The culmination of a three-year research project, this exhibition focuses on the new nation-states that emerged in the wake of the First World War, exploring the role of art and artists in relation to the expression of national identities, nation-building, and statecraft.
This exhibition brings together a range of Irish and international works, both modern and contemporary, that illuminate the shared experiences of the new states. In 1919, Arthur Griffith, writing from Gloucester Prison, urged his colleagues to ‘mobilise the poets’ to help make Ireland’s case for independence on the international stage. Griffith’s letter acknowledges the role of art and culture in developing international solidarities and justifying Ireland’s right, among other small nations, to ‘self-determine’. It also highlights the new possibilities for artists in the early twentieth century, an era of collapsing empires and seismic geopolitical shifts, to articulate and enact radical modern and democratic principles.
This exhibition explores some of the common cultural strategies that emerged across many of the new nation-states including Finland (1917), Estonia (1918), Poland (1918), Ukraine (1917), Turkey (1923), and Egypt (1922), against the backdrop of the international movement towards self-determination, most famously articulated by Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Talks in 1919. How did diverse countries understand the formation of the new state? How did their artists and poets imagine it? How was this situated within an international context? And how do contemporary artists today reckon with the legacies of this period? Each of the new states produced its own cultural complexities, with its own traditions, histories, and industries to be reimagined in line with the new imperatives of modernity. Self-Determination: A Global Perspective explores common strategies and methodologies developed by artists, cultural practitioners, and others invested in the formation of a new state in the first half of the twentieth century.
For this major international exhibition, IMMA will work in dialogue with a range of partnering museums and institutions worldwide, drawing on the expertise and specialist knowledge of a network of advisors and borrowing key works from national and international collections. A particular highlight is the cooperation of the National Art Museum of Ukraine (NAMU), who are sending major works from Kyiv to Dublin for the exhibition.
IMMA has commissioned new works by Array Collective, Jasmina Cibic, Declan Clarke, Minna Henriksson and İz Öztat; alongside co-commissions by Banu Çennetoğlu, and Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind. The commissions bring together international artists to critically reflect on the outcomes of the self-determination movements, shedding light on the successes, failures, and unanticipated consequences.
Self-Determination: A Global Perspective is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012–2023.
Self-Determination: A Global Perspective at IMMA (Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland) from 28 October 2023 until 21 April 2024.