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Imaginary State(s) is a live virtual-reality performance by artist Elaine Hoey. Specially commissioned by the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA),  the work is part of the major group exhibition Desire: A Revision from the 20th Century to the Digital Age.



Title: Imaginary State(s) 

Medium: Live Virtual Reality Performance/ computers, screens, cables, Virtual Reality headsets, sensors, two remote actors/ performers, two viewers in IMMA. 

Duration: 12 mins 

“It is not the literal past that rules us, it is images of the past. Images and symbolic constructs of the past are imprinted, almost in the manner of genetic information, on our sensibility.” — George Steiner 

Imaginary State(s) fuses paradigms from theater and online computer worlds to create a real- time, live virtual-reality performance. The performance explores the concept of the ‘other’ by examining the nature of physical and non-physical borders and boundaries. When states of existence go beyond the physical, ideas of bodies, borders, and nation-states break down, become abstract, non-binary, and open to reinterpretation. The performance confronts constructs of personal and national identity to reveal the process of othering inherent in such constructions. 

Upon entering the work, the viewer encounters two actors performing live from remote locations. The actors question and resist the imposition of predetermined identities.The live and the virtual combine to explore the fluid and performative nature of identity, place, and representation. The self-as-subject becomes progressively redefined and re imagined as a performer within the non-space, instead they are asked to participate in the active dissolution of the boundaries between physical and the virtual, which produces a real-time performance that is both immediate and visceral.

Artist:              Elaine Hoey

Writer:             Tadhg Hoey

Actors:            Kieran Smyth-Derry, Johnny Elliot- Dublin

Music:             Aaron Egginton, Aine O Flaherty

Performance schedule at The Irish Museum of Modern Art


Debut performance:

Saturday 12 October, 2019. 10.30am – 12.30pm & 2.30 – 3.30pm.

1 – 2pm: Artist talk with Elaine Hoey


Other dates:

Friday 25 October, 2019

Friday 22 November, 2019

Friday 24 January, 2020

Friday 21 February, 2020

Friday 20 March, 2020


Times each Friday

12.00 – 12.20 pm

12.20 – 12.40 pm

12.40 – 1.00 pm

1.30 – 1.50 pm

1.50 – 2.10 pm

2.10 – 2.30 pm

2.30 – 2.50 pm

2.50 – 3.10 pm

3.10 – 3.30 pm

Many thanks to, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Michael and Marie Hoey and family, Barry Irwin, Upstate Theater Company, RDS Visual Art Awards, Mason Hayes and Curran, Centre Culturel Irlandais.

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