312 Valencia St., San Francisco
November – December 2011

Death & Sensuality is a diverse group exhibition of contemporary Irish artists. It is organised and curated by Jim Ricks, a native Californian and artist residing in Ireland for the last 6 years. The project, which is presented as part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America in 2011, looks to the politics of sex and violence in the work of contemporary Irish artists working with appropriation. To include new work by: Nina Amazing, Roisin Byrne, Alan Butler, Benjamin DeBurca, Breda Lynch, James McCann, Leo McCann, Tom Molloy, Not Abel and Alan Phelan.

“…In essence, the domain of eroticism is the domain of violence, of violation… What does physical eroticism signify if not a violation of the very being of its practitioners – a viola- tion bordering on death, bordering on murder?”

– Georges Bataille, Eroticism: Death and Sensuality

“Cells lurking deep in the mouse hypothalamus help determine whether it fights or mates.”

– Ewen Callaway, Nature News

Death & Sensuality is an ambitious representation of contemporary Irish culture highlighting a range of mediums, artists and new work dealing explicitly with appropriation and contemporary social issues. The notion of the taboo, the undercurrents of violence and abuse, as well as the erotic, in both current events and history are investigated by the artists. This is achieved through re-working, re-producing and re-contextualising the ‘indisputable’ appropriated image and object. The result is an exciting exhibition of installation, collage, video, painting and drawing.

Although the works are informed from an Irish and ostensibly post-colonial perspective, they don’t relate exclusively to Ireland. A dark and intrepid gaze at sex and its connection to violence begins via well-know tangled Irish pasts with the Catholic church, the Troubles and British colonialism, but also quickly opens up to faith, resistance and subjugation generally. As such, foreign and domestic concerns are explored. At times this is achieved directly and unflinchingly, and at others strangely, tangentially and perversely.

Imagine Ireland is a year-long season of Irish arts in America in 2011, an initiative of Culture Ireland, with funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Roisin Byrne
Tom Molloy
James McCann
James McCann
Leo McCann
Detail of Alan Phelan’s work.
Breda Lynch
Alan Butler
Installation view with Nina Amazing
Detail of Nina Amazing’s work.
Benjamin DeBurca
Not Abel