dublin

View of “Isabel Nolan,” 2014. From left: The view from nowhere, 2014; Here (beneath the endless night), 2014; The weakening eye of day, 2014.

Isabel Nolan

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

View of “Isabel Nolan,” 2014. From left: The view from nowhere, 2014; Here (beneath the endless night), 2014; The weakening eye of day, 2014.

Italo Calvino once argued that writers had to “set themselves tasks that no one else dares imagine.” Artistic vitality becomes possible, Calvino believed, by having “immeasurable goals, far beyond all hope of achievement.” Exemplary in this regard is Goethe’s 1780 declaration that he planned to write “a novel about the universe.” Isabel Nolan’s “The weakened eye of day” was no doubt conceived in a similar spirit of absurd overambition. Its title adapted from a description of the dimming sun in Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Darkling Thrush,” this was an exhibition about the universe—or at least about humanity’s efforts to comprehend its place in the universe—improbably condensed into four compact galleries.

Each of these interlinked, domestic-scale spaces staged a distinct meditation on past, present, or future time, with each section granted its own metaphysically evocative

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