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Exhibitions Archive


muscle: a question of power

28 April – 20 August 2023
Preview: 5pm Thursday 27 April

Created by Anna Furse,muscle: a question of power is an immersive experience that takes visitors on an audio-guided journey through Crawford Art Gallery’s historic collection of Canova Casts followed by a short film screening in the adjoining Project Room.

To experience muscle with a headset, visitors can select timed entry between 13:30 and 14:30 daily.

Please pre-book your free 50-minute (audio 25 minutes / video 25 minutes) timed slot here:

Alternatively, by scanning a QR code in the gallery space, visitors can use their own device and headphones outside of these hours.

Please note: This exhibition will be temporarily closed 14-18 June (inclusive) to facilitate I Fall Down performances.

“Take two steps back and look right.

Compare her curves to the figure at the end:

a male athlete extended in archery,

counter-tension of front left arm and back right,

the body gently held upright,

all energy and calm centre.



like his missing bowstring.

Sound of stretching elastic and a ping

Look back at Venus,

all soft and simpering.

Sound of muscle”

Created by Anna Furse, muscle is an immersive experience that takes visitors on an audio-guided journey through Crawford Art Gallery’s historic collection of Canova Casts.

Designed to bring visitors up close and personal with these ancient Classical forms, muscle is an invitation to contemplate the idealised nude, and its legacy today. The viewing of these artworks – which were once objects of international relations and teaching – is from a ‘lived body’ experience: that is, the visitor is prompted to experience these figurative forms not only visually, but also viscerally and imaginatively. The audio-guide refers the spectator to their own body sensations, presence, and curiosity as they are invited to follow gentle but precise instructions to progress through the Sculpture Galleries.

muscle engages with society’s contemporary and damaging obsessions with beauty and perfection, strength and power. It alludes historically not only to the Ancient Greek cultivation of mind and body in service to the State, but to the Nazi obsession with Antiquity in its effort to sculpt the flesh of the German nation according to Greek ideals. In exploring examples of the traditional male heroic body, muscle raises specific awareness of women and muscle, and how ‘the weaker sex’ gains agency through the acquisition of physical strength. This does not settle the matter, however, since the question of the body’s muscularity and strength remains an on-going question in today’s gender discourse.

The experience culminates in a new video film, women talking – muscle: a question of power. Created with Kilian Waters, Furse engages the voices of women who work professionally with their muscularity: a 73-year-old (and still active) dancer-choreographer; a para-athlete; a soldier; a pole-dancer; a bodybuilder; and a top fashion model.

This project has been created by
Anna Furse
Theatre Artist, Writer, and Professor Emerita, Goldsmiths, University of London

In collaboration with:
Sound Composer: Graeme Miller
Filmmaker: Kilian Waters
Producer: Paula Van Hagen
Research Assistant: Ruah Berney-Pearson
Graphic Designer: Dave Darcy
Curator: Michael Waldron
Production Manager: Kathryn Coughlan

Click here to view some activities created especially for Primary and Secondary schools' students.

Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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