IMMA presents What Does He Need?
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IMMA presents What Does He Need?
What Does He Need? by Fiona Whelan, Brokentalkers & Rialto Youth Project, installed at IMMA, 2022, Photo by Louis Haugh.

DUBLIN.- Irish Museum of Modern Art is presenting What Does He Need? – an exhibition and audio work by artists Fiona Whelan and Brokentalkers (Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan), which form part of a long-term critical inquiry into the formation of masculinity, exploring how men and boys are shaped by and influence the world.

Presented on the fašade of IMMA’s main reception, What Does He Need? offers a range of viewpoints on the needs of men and boys in different scenarios and at different stages of life. Short texts are shown as responses to the central question What Does He Need? and were gathered through workshops with diverse groups of adults and young people as part of an ongoing inquiry into the current state of masculinity. Responses made to the central question include – To see his father cry, To hit back, A strong male role model, To get off her, Hugs every day.

The texts are accompanied by a powerful 30-minute audio piece, which tells the story of a fictional boy from the day of his birth to early adulthood. Throughout his young life, the boy is confronted by a series of situations, weaving between themes of empathy, power, the suppression of vulnerability, violence, mental health, pornography, and suicide. The public is invited to listen to the audio piece and to consider their own responses to the question ‘What does he need?’

Commenting on the project, artist Fiona Whelan said; “At a time when a spotlight is being shone on many patriarchal structures and male behaviours and attitudes, we would encourage people to go for a walk and listen to the 30-minute audio piece, and let it be a prompt for reflection and conversation with others, in the home, the workplace, the sports club or the pub.”

Fellow artist Feidlim Cannon (of Brokentalkers) adds; “As a male working on this project, I feel it’s really important that as many men as possible listen to the audio, to begin a conversation on what it is to be a man.”

What Does He Need? is part of a long-term project by artist, writer and educator Fiona Whelan, theatre company Brokentalkers and Rialto Youth Project developed in association with a Dublin city network of organisations in the areas of arts and culture, youth work, community development and education. This multi-layered project is a critical inquiry into the formation of masculinity, exploring how men and boys are shaped by and influence the world.

Helen O’Donoghue, Head of Engagement & Learning at IMMA said; “IMMA is facilitating a workshop with key experts in education on 28 April to explore the possibilities of developing this as a module in formal education with a particular emphasis on teacher formation. We are interested in hearing from people who would like to take part.”

In 2019 IMMA’s Artists’ Residency Programme supported the project at its developmental stage, providing space to work with communities and groups. Since then, there have been public manifestations which include an audio piece, a cross-city public poster project and a programme for children and young people.

In 2021 IMMA’s A Radical Plot Open Call for the Artists’ Residency Programme presented an opportunity to bring back Fiona Whelan and Brokentalkers to the studios to continue expanding the reach and context of such an important project.

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