This year of commemoration of the 1916 Rising in Ireland is the starting point for an international exhibition that is reflexive and responsive to the defining period around the Great War in an international context.
Radical Actions will look at how events in recent and distant history, attitudes to rebellion, revolution and agitation have formed societies and national identities, questioning the role of the artist in imagining future states and explore the impact this revolutionary period has had on Irish citizens.
Revolutions are about antagonism and agitation, and this is above all, true of events a hundred years ago. A dramatic and emotionally driven gesture, the 1916 Rising is rumoured to have inspired revolution in India, Vietnam and many parts of Africa. It was planned by men and women who feared that without a dramatic action of this kind, the sense of national identity that had survived all the hazards of the centuries would flicker out ignominiously within their lifetime.
According to curator Linda Shevlin, the 1916 Commemoration should not be a time for “soft words or a gazing backwards through a green-tinged prism at an idealised past.”
As part of its 2016 commemorative programme Culture Ireland is supporting the exhibition of Radical Actions in Melbourne at RMIT Gallery, which is a very fitting location for this important contemporary Irish exhibition. RMIT Gallery is housed in Storey Hall, first built as a Hibernian Hall in 1887 and remodelled in 1995 where its Irish Heritage is referenced in the buildings exterior architecture.