- Irish Museum of Modern Art
I have always loved the surrealist game, invented in 1925 of consequences, exquisite corpses. The resulting image or sentence can often lead to exciting, unusual, funny and sometimes unsettling combinations of words or images. Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections at IMMA, has used the gallery in a way suggested by the game itself which traditionally relies on images taking some variation on human form. At one end of the Galleries is the Head, being on the first floor it was interesting to note that to reach the head entrance you would have to have arrived by lift, and at the other entrance the Foot. I arrived at the foot and slowly, delicately made my way up the conceptual body. It was perhaps no surprise to soon come upon the Freudian play of Dorothy Cross’ Saddle. This piece, made around the same time as the Shroud in the Tate’s Collection, is constructed from a cow’s hide. There is something doubly unsettling about udders. On the one hand they remind me of large elongated nipples, which they are, and on the other they have a resemblance of a small thick penis. The Saddle also has a reference to the arse and so, all in all, the piece has a fascinating desire to confuse and unsettle, to engage and perturb.
Further up the conceptual body I became drawn to Richard Hamilton’s series of prints, including He Foresaw his Pale Body. These are some of the most beautiful images I have seen by Hamilton, and seem somehow at odds with his brash pop art persona. These are intimate in both subject matter and sensitivity of mark. Never have taps looked more phallic.
Leading into the Exquisite Corpse Foot, there is a display of Sean Scully from the collection. The etchings in this display were beautiful. The blackness was like a velvet cloak cast aside at the feet of the exquisite corpse. Sean Scully’s work doesn’t generally do that much for me, but his calculated playfulness seemed to sing in his prints on show here.