Sarah Browne, presented with the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane

Sarah Browne, presented with the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane

Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry / Institute of Modern Art

Sarah Browne, detail from the series “Hand to Mouth,” 2014. Woven black and white laser prints, 150 x 95 mm. Courtesy of the artist.

March 27, 2014

Sarah Browne: Hand to Mouth
CCA, March 29–May 24, 2014
IMA, October 11–November 29, 2014

Centre for Contemporary Art 
10-12 Artillery Street
BT48 6RG
Northern Ireland

T +44 (0) 28 7137 3538
info [​at​]

Institute of Modern Art
420 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley
Brisbane QLD 4006

T +61 (0) 73 252 5750
ima [​at​]

CCA and IMA are pleased to present a solo exhibition by Dublin-based artist Sarah Browne. Her ongoing research into informal and subsistence economies forms the basis of this new body of work, Hand to Mouth. With a particular sensitivity to the historical relationship between the production of perishable textiles and invisible digital code, Browne’s point of departure is a series of iconic images of early 20th-century women from the Shetland Islands, knitting as they walk, carrying baskets of turf on their backs. These photographs are an unexpected antecedent to contemporary images of the multitasking, precarious labourer: hands knitting are now typically replaced by fingers typing or swiping touchscreens of mobile devices; surplus time is ruthlessly exploited, mentally and physically. 

Using a smartphone as a kind of ‘participant-observer’ filming device, Browne worked in Shetland with cinematographer Kate McCullough and choreographer Fearghus Ó Conchúir to explore these ideas with a selection of women who work on the islands now. This film, titled Something from nothing (18 minutes, 2014),  forms the central focus of the exhibition and features a number of women, including a knitter (the fastest in the world), a photographer, a sex worker, a member of the youth parliament and the artist herself. These individuals are variously self-employed, in education, working a number of different part-time jobs or with zero-hour contracts. They all actively cultivate an internet presence, through personal and professional websites, blogs and social media profiles, and this labour of managing the self online is key to their autonomy and ability to manage their work effectively. The film is monochrome, deliberately stylized and moves from conventional observation into apparently more abstract passages, following the increasingly intangible tasks the women are engaged in, such as the labour of making representation (textual, imagistic and political). The soundtrack to the film, composed by Alma Kelliher, uses techniques of pouring and knitting different sounds together to create the embodied rhythm of a contemporary ‘work song.’

Other works in the exhibition are made with a comparable modesty of means, including Hand to Mouth, a series of woven laser prints that materially combine archival images with online stock photographs, generating glitchy herringbone patterns. Reproductions are a new group of sculptural works, all of which involve latex casts of the walls, floor and cracks of the artist’s studio. These latex skins are peeled off and mounted on simple steel armatures, recalling washing lines, drying racks or stretchers. The uncanny materiality of these works implicitly evokes a connection or an equivalence between artistic and bodily (re)production.

Sarah Browne’s research-based practice investigates the materiality of how we communicate and create shared meaning through transaction and exchange. Recent projects and exhibitions include Still, We Work, a commission for the National Women’s Council of Ireland; The Peacock, Grazer Kunstverein, Austria; One Foot in the Real World, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2013); How to Use Fool’s Gold, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2012); Second Burial at Le Blanc, Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2011); Minimalism and Applied II, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, and Unto This Last, Raven Row, London (both 2010). In 2009 she co-represented Ireland at the 53rd Venice Biennale with Gareth Kennedy and Kennedy Browne.

This project is a joint commission from CCA and the IMA and is curated by Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh.

CCA is principally funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland/The Lottery Fund, and supported by Northern Ireland Executive Supported by The Urban Regeneration Company Ilex, The Department for Social Development, Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors, Arts & Business NI, and British Council NI.

IMA receives financial assistance from the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland (major sponsor), from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council (the Federal Government’s arts funding and advisory body), and through the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (an initiative of the Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments). IMA is a member of CAOs, Contemporary Art Organisations Australia.

Sarah Browne’s project is generously supported by Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.


Sarah Browne at Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry~Londonderry and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
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March 27, 2014

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