Anita Groener: The Past Is A Foreign Country

Presented by Limerick City Gallery of Art 30th September 2018 – 6th January 2019


The Past Is A Foreign Country asks what is it to be human today? Through drawings, large scale installations, film, and animation Anita Groener explores the tissue of trauma and loss rooted in this question. She makes work for what still needs language, experimenting with both figurative and abstract geography. The deliberately modest means of the work (twigs, paper, pins, twine and gouache) speak to the fragility of life and society that refugee crises expose. Her art asks questions about the ethics of witnessing atrocity and aesthetic response.
The Past Is A Foreign Country addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time–the refugee crises–and our response to it. It is the title of a large installation in the Carnegie Gallery where twenty young birch trees, stripped of their leaves, their branches cut, unearthed and uprooted, are reconstructed and suspended from the ceiling, making a closed circuit grid. We can walk around it, look into it but we cannot enter this enclosure.
An attempt to translate terror’s destabilizing impact is echoed in Moments, a series of animated line drawings portraying children caught in the violence of Syria’s war. From one moment into another, in a split second, life changes irreversibly, sometimes in a most disturbing way. To realise these drawings the artist worked with Syrian journalist Razan Ibraheem.
The exhibition incites an imaginative journey between here, the geographical, social, and cultural locations of the spectator and there, the site of the represented trauma. Focusing on specific current events, their archetypal and psychological resonances, the artist traces urgent connections between the experience of refugees driven from their homes by armed conflict and her own life and family.
A special performance by world renowned Syrian musician, Maya Youssef, will be held on Thursday 18 October 6pm. Maya Youssef born in Damascus is hailed as “queen of the qanun”, the 78 stringed Middle Eastern plucked zither. For Youssef the act of playing music is the opposite of death; it is a life and hope affirming act. For her, music is a healer and an antidote to what is happening not only in Syria, but in the whole world.
This exhibition received an Arts Council Touring and Dissemination Award and will tour to The Dock, Carrick-on- Shannon, Uilinn, Skibbereen and The Lab, Dublin in 2019.
A new catalogue to accompany this touring exhibition–with contributions from Joseph R. Wolin, writer and curator based in New York City; Séan Kissane, curator Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Suzanne Lynch, Washington DC correspondent for The Irish Times; Razan Ibraheem, Syrian journalist based in Ireland and Peter Sirr, Irish poet, will be published in November 2018.
Anita Groener was born in The Netherlands and is based in Dublin, Ireland.
In 2005, she was elected a member of Aosdána. Until 2014 she was a lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Technology where she also served as the Head of Fine Art from 2004 to 2006.
Image credits;
The Past Is A Foreign Country (detail) 2018, 300 x 400 x 300 cm, 20 birch trees, twine, paper I'M Afraid To Suffocate In The Dust (production still HD animated film) 2018
Last Goodbye (production still HD animated film) 2018
Further enquires please contact,
Carnegie Building, Pery Square, Limerick, Ireland. FREE ADMISSION
Tel: +353(0)61 310633; F:+353(0)61 310228; Email:; Web Opening Hours: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday & Saturday 10-5.30pm; Thursday 10-8pm; Sunday 12-5.30. LAST ENTRY 5 &7.30pm Closed on Public & Bank Holidays.


February 28, 2019
of 29