Dublin City Arts Office
The LAB, Foley Street, Dublin 1

+353 1 222 5455

Past Exhibition

City of Women

Jaki Irvine

January 14 - February 27 2010

“…we have been invited to proceed by watching curiously, to keep a close eye on things.”*

In 2008 The LAB and Draíocht invited Jaki Irvine to think about William Hogarth's 1732 series of prints, A Harlot’s Progress. City of Women is the work developed by Irvine in response to this invitation. Irvine’s short film, City of Women, was shot on Foley Street, formerly Montgomery Street and now the site of The LAB, in June 2009.The exhibition City of Women at the LAB will also include six original prints from Hogarth’s series A Harlot’s Progress, on loan from the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

“Evaluating the lithe proximity of narrative and remonstration Jaki Irvine’s short film City of Women was shot on one long night in Foley Street. A diverse range of women volunteered to meet and stay together in the darkness enacting twenty-nine gestures with intimate precision.”* The participants included Macushla dance group, the young women of the Swan Centre in Sheriff Street, and many more. “For the duration of the evening, these women’s inhabitation of the street and careful attendance to each other neutralizes the workaday functionality of Foley Street as minor thoroughfare smack bang in the middle of a large city, instead rending the street into a dialogical space that critiques contingent expressions of public access.”

“Just as the discursive space in City of Women is constructed from the correlations of gesture rather than solely of speech, so too is the filmic space. Irvine paces this work with an editorial procedure that is essentially aporetic in nature. The film’s temporal span proceeds not to one specific conclusion - unlike the progress of Hogarth’s harlot who hurtles prematurely towards her syphilitic grave - instead we have been invited to proceed by watching curiously, to keep a close eye on things.”*

Dublin City Council gratefully acknowledges the Irish Museum of Modern Art for the generous loan of the Hogarth prints from its collection.

* Quotes in italics from THEIR NOCTURNAL POIOUMENON: Notes on City of Women, a text by Maria Fusco accompanying the exhibition.



Jaki Irvine is one of Ireland’s most respected contemporary artists. She was born in Ireland in 1966, and while she has lived in both the UK and Italy for extended periods she now lives and works in Dublin. She has exhibited widely through the UK and Europe and her work is held in various collections world-wide. "From the toothless girl in Sweettooth (1993-94), to the interactions between humans and animals in In a World Like This (2006), Jaki Irvine’s art has to do with the acknowledgment of strangeness. How odd other people are. How the world seems full of coincidences and signs meant just for me one moment and utterly meaningless the next. How everything seems coherent, and then suddenly falls apart. Irvine’s oeuvre, comprising mainly films and videos, most often in the form of installations, explores not only the extremes of passion, of love and hate, of possession and loss – to the point at which these emotions become unrepresentable – but also the mundane and the everyday, the things that happen on a walk to the park or a trip on the underground, where people’s paths cross, and encounters are missed".
(Michael Newman, 2008)

Maria Fusco is a Belfast-born writer, editor and academic. She is Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is the founder/editor of The Happy Hypocrite, a journal for and about experimental art writing. In 2008-9, she was the Critic-in-Residence at Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and is currently the inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Whitechapel Gallery, London.

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