A Temporary Measure

Project Title: A Temporary Measure
Date: 2009
Location: IMOCA @ Irish Distillers Building, Smithfield, Dublin, Ireland
Media: Mixed media installation incorporating Wood, Fluorescent lighting, Paper, Wire, Electric Cabling

In 2008 I received the first residency award offered by the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art (imoca). This project was the culmination of the year spent at the residency studio at IMOCA. The exhibition was informed by the temporary nature both of the residency and the space in which the exhibition was located, i.e. a vacant office block in the heart of Dublin city. It was right at the moment when Ireland was about to plunge into it’s “recession” so I decided to play upon this sense of impermanence and the tension that was palpable within Ireland at the time. Something was coming to an end.

The main obstacle I faced was the sheer scale of the space and it’s office interior decoration complete with blue carpet. I had spent the year expecting to be exhibiting within a warehouse and being thrust into this environment made me reflect on the studio experience I had just had at imoca. In the end I decided to dismantle my studio, To remove the walls that had been the perimeter of my practice and turn their surfaces into lines. So I spent about two weeks cutting the wall panels of my studio into strips of wood 1CM thick. These strips allowed me (with the help of many friends and imoca interns!) to construct a network of white lines – a type of wireframe that stood out against the deep blue carpet. The lines were tied together at their ends. We moved throughout the space creating a large volumetric tessellated ungle that visitors could navigate.

In the large open atrium I constructed a miniature house pressed into the corner of the space by long beams – the same beams that supported the walls – and lined each of the beams with the fluorescent lights from the ceiling of my studio. In this way my 3meter by 4 meter studio expanded to fill an entire lobby of an empty office block. A final addition was a pile of paper skulls constructed in the same tessellated manner as the space. These were the last art objects that I had been working on while in the imoca residency studio and so I decided to include them in the exhibition. I guess in retrospect they came to symbolize a type of death, a spatial death for the studio and for the exhibition space (4 years later in 2012 it is still mostly vacant). If you scroll down through the images below you will see an image of my father helping out with the preparation of the space who, unbeknownst to us at the time, was dying of cancer. Twelve weeks later he died. So this text, written in hindsight might add something else to the press release below.

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Exhibition Text


The Exhibition entitled ‘A Temporary Measure’ utilizes the unique space of the Irish Distillers Building in Smithfield. IMOCA seeks to de-centralise the traditional notion of ‘the museum’, aiming to cut across traditional and hierarchical barriers associated with museum institutions, making it accessible to everyone. IMOCA is a young, artist lead organization wishing to create a new platform for contemporary art and is dedicated solely to the development and promotion of contemporary Irish art practice both at home and internationally. It values the inherent educational and development opportunities in contemporary art and seeks to promote these opportunities by exhibiting in new contexts and to new audiences.

‘A Temporary Measure’ represents the culmination of Ivan Twohig’s one year residency with IMOCA. Born in Dublin, Ivan has exhibited throughout Ireland and around Europe, he is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Bank of Ireland Sculpture Student of the Year Award and the Clare People Graduate Award. Ivan’s work operates at the convergence between fine art, architectural design and pop culture. He works across a range of media including electronic art, video, sculpture and installation. In this his latest offering Ivan’s relationship to the space is filtered through a unique process of measurement, dissection, appropriation and creation.

Ivan Twohig’s work has always been influenced by architecture and the relationship between the natural and built environments. In the installation he has transformed elements of his studio into a set of materials which he uses to ‘draw’ within the space. Using computer programs the surface-area of his studio walls have been measured, unfolded and divided into lines which are then used to create a complex, chaotic and almost organic structure within the vast interior space of the Distillers building. Fluorescent lights rise from the floor acting as markers or reference points for people as they move through the space but are also used to disrupt our perception of the space itself.

This work can be read as a response to the assumption that artists often find themselves characterised by their continual displacement, and transient nature of their practice. It may be that it is less a search for a sense of place and more the desire for space that draws the artist to the architectural and social peripheries of contemporary society. Yet rather than dwelling on subjective experience and prevalent questions of place and identity, Ivan Twohig’s installation refocuses the viewers’ attention on the physicality of such displacement and on the vacuum that our society now finds itself being pulled into in light of the global economic downturn and the resulting excess of vacancy. How do we measure the value of an empty space and what leads us to the desire to enter or to fill a space?


Documentation Photos:



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