Born in Transylvania and based in Dublin, Sara Damaris Muthi is a curator and writer. She has exhibited annual commissions since 2018 with themes ranging from metaphysics to migrant identities. Her recent research explores the intersections of Evangelicalism and Western visual culture.
Sara is the Curatorial Fellow at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and a visiting lecturer in Fine Art at TU Dublin, previously teaching in the department of Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. Alongside artist Tamsin Snow, Sara co-curates Montpelier House, an experimental domestic exhibition programme. She is also the Curator of Visual Art at Brown Mountain Diamond, an artist-run art residency space in deep rural Ireland.
Curated by Sara Damaris Muthi
23 November 2023
Book Launch 6-9pm
Each publication is hand-finished by the artist with tape and edition number. Purchase through The Library Project HERE (15EUR). Edition of 350.
In Stanisław Lem’s novel Fiasco (1986) the attempts to communicate with the inhabitants of a distant planet fail because of the human crew’s inability to distinguish the members of this society from the planet’s landforms. At the end of the novel only one member of the crew realises that the aliens are, in fact, what appeared to be familiar heaps of landforms, covered in vegetation. Defamiliarisation is a central device of science fiction, a mechanism through which our everyday surroundings become strange due to their subjection to an alien, foreign perspective. Defamiliarisation of nature has, within science fiction, its own consistent history, before and beyond Lem's animated green hills. From stories of killer plants to alien bushes suddenly turning ominous, there's a tradition of the natural world becoming unfamiliar and menacing.
The book features photography, drawings and a sci-fi story written by the artist. It uses strategies of defamiliarisation to engage with Dublin city's urban space, in particular its gardens, parks and outdoor sports fields. The focus lies on three emblematic green spaces in Dublin: the formal garden at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the GAA pitch in Saint Enda's park and the suburban back garden as a generic, familiar place. In addition to the short story, the publication also features an essay by the curator, both texts quadrilingual (in Romanian, Irish, German and English). The use of these four languages speaks to the artist and curator’s shared and separate cultural spheres, and as a way, through translation, to add additional layers of defamiliarisation. In the performance, recognisable environments are further integrated into new docu-fictional scenarios through text and movement, thus rendered unfamiliar.
Backgarden Trilogy was born from the artist and curator’s shared experience as Romanian residents living in Dublin. Unfamiliar with the purposes of ‘H’ shaped white metal posts scattered through public parks, these structures were, for Gheorghe, reminiscent of extra-terrestrial symbols found in the landscapes of sci-fi novels. The parks, gardens and green areas referenced through this work are both natural and artificial, rendering these environments even more unnatural; while retaining their familiarity; it transforms them into terrestrial back gardens with a view to a ‘great outdoors’.
Irina Gheorghe is an artist born in Târgoviște, România. Solo exhibitions include Principles of Space Detection at NCAD Gallery, Dublin (2023); Things Which Are Not Here, of Which We Cannot Say at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest (2022); Methods for the Study of What Is Not There at Künstlerhaus Bremen (2021) and Betraying the Senses, or How to Speak of What Is Not There at Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2020). Selected group shows include Grazer Kunstverein, Salonul de Proiecte Bucharest, National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest, CCA Derry, Glasgow International, TRAFO Budapest, Pratt Manhattan Gallery New York, Times Museum Guangzhou, HOME Manchester, etc.
In 2009, Irina co-founded The Bureau of Melodramatic Research with artist Alina Popa (1982-2019). Recent Bureau shows include High Heel Communism at the Kunstverein am Rosa Luxemburg Platz, Berlin (2023); Heartbeat Detection Systems at Suprainfinit Gallery and The Internal Fire at Goethe-Institut (Bucharest, 2022).
Image and publication designed by Wolfe Hall
Kindly funded by Fingal County Council
Supported by the Goethe-Institut Irland