A unique online programme called The Body Electric will unfold throughout April and May on The Model’s digital platforms.
Taking Walt Whitman’s iconic poetic celebration of the human being as its title and its point of departure, The Body Electric explores the human form, embodiment and the lived experience through key works in The Niland Collection. An illustrated publication featuring the work of six artists and eight contemporary Irish writers, a special Podcast series, and a beautiful companion book for children to read and enjoy at home will accompany The Body Electric online exhibition – bringing works from The Niland Collection to life in new and inspiring ways. In addition, further pop-up programming on our Blog and Instagram channels will be announced in the coming weeks.
We invited writers Claire-Louise Bennet, Tara Bergin, Leontia Flynn, Alice Lyons, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Rosie O’Reilly, Jessica Traynor and Suzanne Walsh to respond to their chosen works from The Body Electric exhibition, using a rhetorical device called Ekphrasis. A form of writing originating from the Greek word for ‘description’, this technique has the power to transform the visual into surprising and unusual new work. The idea of ekphrasis underpins The Body Electric and it is this ancient technique of creating, writing and making that is at the heart of the project.
The Body Electric project has resulted in unusual and thought-provoking new writings, experimental texts, sound compositions and performances which have emerged through this form of engagement with some of Ireland’s leading contemporary practitioners in poetry, literature and visual art, and we look forward to presenting their work to you over the coming months.
Writers and artists have responded to this artistic call in their own unique ways – from Alice Lyons’s intriguing poem Battenberg Hat in response to the portrait of Elizabeth Pollexfen, by John B Yeats; to Jessica Traynor’s short and curious poem Milk Teeth in response to Stiletto by Dorothy Cross. Artist Rosie O’Reilly returns with an unusual literary dialogue that taps into the zeitgeist of our current global pandemic. Suzanne Walsh’s haunting and ethereal response to the works of AE Russell through poetry, sound composition and performance seem to transgress the world of art, the para-normal and the lived experience. Works by Dorothy Cross, Clodagh Emoe, Marie Foley, Louis le Brocquy, George (AE) Russell and John Butler Yeats in The Body Electric exhibition are the inspiration for these unique and surprising new works.
The podcast series, hosted by The Model’s Artistic Director Emer McGarry, presents readings and performances of these works by the writers, as well as an ongoing conversation with the writer Tara Bergin on the ideas at the heart of ekphrastic composition and her own creative practice. The podcast series brings the entire project into a deeper sensory field of experience, further expanding on the themes of The Body Electric.
View the programme here