On Being Here (and There)

Inscriptions of an Immense Theatre

August 5, 2020 — November 1, 2020

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain’s Inscriptions of an Immense Theatre is an immersive film—set in three distinct locations—that examines how histories are supplanted and erased through dislocation and erosion. Borrowing its title from a sixteenth-century text about museum management, the film addresses the Western world’s legacy of imperialism as well as human displacement and the possibility of a future destabilized by climate change.

The soundtrack is composed by Susan Stenger with a voiceover performed by Eileen Walsh.

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain is an Irish artist known for her use of film, computer generated imagery, and photography. Ní Bhriain received her MA from the Royal College of Art and was awarded her PhD by Practice from Kingston University, UK, in 2008. She is represented by Domobaal Gallery, London, and lectures at the Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork, Ireland. Her work has been exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, including RHA, Dublin; Musée des Beaux–Arts de Rennes, Britanny; EVA International, Limerick; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; and Whitechapel Gallery, London. She won the 2020 Golden Fleece Award, which provides resources for practicing contemporary visual artists and makers living in or originally from Ireland.

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, 2018, 33 min. 9 sec.

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The Projector Room

Our sense of self is rooted in belonging. Belonging encompasses where we come from, where we currently are, and where we are going. Given the inherently narrative structure of belonging, it can best be considered through a time-based medium, such as film. This film series examines belonging broadly, as well as what happens when our sense of belonging is uprooted.

Who Is Bozo Texino? explores the origin story of a graffiti character found on freight train boxcars across the United States. The film’s director, Bill Daniel, ties the search for Bozo Texino’s origins to his own history as a rail rider.

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain’s Inscriptions of an Immense Theatre examines belonging as a story told through objects, with a critical eye to how narratives offered by museums can gloss over, obscure, and even destroy certain histories.

EDM House is built upon dichotomies. As a film of animated Christmas lights, it subverts expectations through syncing the twinkling dance to an electronic dance music track written by the artist, Kevin Schmidt. Schmidt shoots the house’s performance from various camera angles to compile the film, leading to the question of whether the house exists for the film alone, or if it exists as a destination experience that we can presumably visit.

This exhibition is supported by the Kohler Trust for Arts and Education, the Frederic Cornell Kohler Charitable Trust, Kohler Foundation, Inc., Herzfeld Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.