Is it possible to experience abstract artworks without using your eyes?

Josef and Anni Albers exhibition for people who are visually impaired launches at the Glucksman.

How can a visual art exhibition be experienced by people who are partially sighted or blind? Josef and Anni Albers: Voyage inside a blind experience considers these questions by presenting major works from both artists alongside tactile models, braille texts, and playful art encounters led by touch, all designed to enable visitors to experience and feel works that they cannot see. 

The works on display include Anni Albers’ hugely influential textile works, Josef Albers’ renowned Homage to the Square paintings, and a selection of his record cover designs accompanied by the original jazz music. The show also includes a darkroom where visitors are invited to explore objects by touch, as well as a section that reflects on the importance of Albers’ teaching that emphasised a sense of feeling as well as seeing art. 

The exhibition launches at 6pm on Thursday 26th July alongside Please Touch which also invites a physical response to works by four Irish contemporary artists whose individual practices often emphasise texture and tangibility. Both exhibitions continue in the Glucksman, University College Cork until 4 November 2018. It is a unique opportunity for Irish audiences to explore what it means to learn about art through touch. 

Nicholas Fox Weber, Director of the Albers Foundation said:

I now realise, that knowing Josef Albers, the devout Catholic, the man of heart, and knowing her, Anni Albers, the woman of consummate empathy with anyone who had any form of disability, even as she accorded little attention to her own, they would have been fascinated by this idea of extending their sense of seeing to those who cannot see with their eyes, whose physical impairment makes it impossible.” 

Fiona Kearney, Director of the Glucksman said:

“It is a humbling and powerful experience to consider what it means to navigate the world through touch. UCC is a leader in the field of disability services and we are proud to enable our students and the wider public to engage with art in this pioneering exhibit. To have these masterworks in the Glucksman is a privilege and I am hugely grateful to the Albers Foundation, the Arts Council of Ireland and the Creative Europe programme for their support in presenting such an important show in Cork and Ireland.”

Lawrence O’Hana, Chairperson of the Glucksman’s Board of Directors said:

“The Glucksman is a leading museum nationally and internationally for creative learning and access to the visual arts. The impressive and versatile gallery spaces present thought-provoking exhibitions that have thrilled audiences of all ages and abilities. This special show invites people who are visually impaired to share in the museum experience. It is a tribute to the staff of the gallery that they are continually seeking new ways to connect all audiences with contemporary art”.

In partnership with UCC Disability Support ServiceArts & Disability IrelandChildVisionFighting Blindness and Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Glucksman will be offering tours and workshops for people who are visually impaired. Please contact education@glucksman.org to find out more about our activities for people with visual impairment. Events for the general public include touch tours of the UCC Art Collection for Heritage Week, torchlight explorations of the gallery after dark on Culture Night as well as schools and community workshops for all ages and abilities. All upcoming events are available on the Glucksman’s new website www.glucksman.org designed by Pixel Design, Dublin

Josef and Anni Albers: Voyage inside a blind experience has been developed in partnership with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Atlante Servizi Culturali, along with the expertise of l’Istituto dei Ciechi di Milano, a leading institute for people who are visually impaired in Milan, Italy, the exhibition is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. Following its presentation at the Glucksman, the exhibition is touring to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia. 

UCC Disability Services provide a range of educational, technological, personal and social supports to students with disabilities and specific learning difficulties. We also provide information and training to UCC staff and external stakeholders in the field of disability and education. The Service has a comprehensive outreach programme which focuses on raising awareness and provision of training in Assistive Technologies to students in second level and their teachers. 

For exhibition images, interviews and further information, please contact: +353 21 4901844 / exhibitions@glucksman.org