Lives in Berlin (DE)
Jennifer O’Donnell is an Irish architect and co-founder of plattenbaustudio. She studied architecture at University College Dublin and KTH Stockholm, graduating with first class honours. Her work focuses on the inhabitation of architecture, using architectural drawing as a means of studying and comprehending the complexities of the built environment. Her interest lies in the everyday realities of architecture in use; in the appropriation of space by the body and by objects. Her ongoing interest in architectural drawing includes its potential as a tool for communication within the wider public discourse around architecture. Jennifer’s work has been exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the London Festival of Design and the Irish Embassy in Berlin.
“What Matters” was the question andtatement of 2022 presentation of works by the JUNGE AKADEMIE, the interdisciplinary and international artist-in-residence programme of the Akademie der Künste. In an exhibition and a multifaceted programme including screenings, concerts and readings, 29 fellows from all of the Akademie’s art sections presented sound and video installations, photographs, sculptures, paintings and performances they developed during their studio residencies in the Hansaviertel in Berlin and at Villa Serpentara in Olevano, Italy.
“What Matters” is not to be understood as the title of a thematic exhibition but rather indicates the diversity of questions, perspectives and realities that are interlaced in an artist residency, while emphasising their urgency. The exhibition focused on the artists’ individual approaches that encompass a broad spectrum of themes: from questions about the transformation of societies and their expression in relation to the urban space and landscape, to interrelations between the individual and social systems such as state, religion and the economy, to reflections on body images and conceptions of history, personal archives and the intertwining of nature, technology and culture.
What matters is artistic testimony, poetic resistance and the imagining of sustainable futures in the face of global tipping points – whether climatic or political in nature. Two years into the pandemic and the associated restrictions, “What Matters” was the most comprehensive presentation of works to date by the JUNGE AKADEMIE.
To quote one of the fellows: “What matters? Make them see…”
Jennifer O´Donnell & Jonathan Janssens (Plattenbaustudio)
Bookbinding paper and timber
This installation presents a physical, spatial reading of abusive power structures on the daily lives of those affected. In particular, it looks at the case of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, where vulnerable women and girls deemed to have broken the strict moral codes of Irish Catholic society (often with regard to sex and expected female conduct) were held indefinitely and forced to work without payment at laundry or needlework as penance for their sins. The last laundry – located at Sean McDermott St in Dublin’s city centre – closed in 1996 and remains empty today. It is the subject of ongoing debate about how we might best commemorate places of dark history.
Three objects made of paper form an axial composition; the installation includes an industrial ironing machine and a detail from a chapel wall, with a single bed placed between them. Together these objects replicate their original positions within the dormitories, laundry and chapel at Sean McDermott St. They spatialise the reality of lives caught within the powerful forces of a religious culture which saw Irish society’s most vulnerable women and girls commodified and their humanity negated.