‘Mapping Spectral Traces Ireland’: 17 October – 4 November 2016

Artistic mappings of the haunted topographies of Irish bodies, environments and political institutions. Curated by Karen E. Till. Funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme, the Irish Space&Place Research Collaborative; Maynooth University’s Departments of English and Geography; and the Kildare County Council Arts and Library Service. Image left: Glas Journal 2016 (c) Silvia Loeffler. Header image: Untitled (c) Monica de Bath, 2012.

With musical performance of selected works by Aoife Kavanagh (violin and flute) and Shawn Hennessey (guitar). Artists’ works include:

Monica de Bath, PLOT / CEAPACH: Finding Poetic and Critical Space. Two short conversations about ‘Living by the Sea’Located near the site of Corrib Gas, Iorras, Mayo. Ireland, these two short film conversations consider how it is to live against a backdrop of ecological and economic tensions.

Cathy Fitzgerald, Reversing Silent Spring (2016). This short video sums up the artist’s ongoing, now eight-year-old, Hollywood forest transformation project (in rural Ireland). Having recently recorded the increasing diversity of the dawn chorus at Hollywood, it struck the artist that her ethico-aesthetic-political work is a modest attempt to respond to Rachel Carson’s seminal environmental book Silent Spring (1962). The video highlights how Cathy’s transversal eco-social art practice explores the Western cultural-political ecology of industrial monoculture forestry to evolve an alternate flourishing forestry. New-to-Ireland ‘Close-to-Nature’ continuous cover forestry (which the artist employs in her practice) prioritises permanent, thriving forests and is a valuable means to rethink and move away from life-diminishing industrial land practices to towards life-sustaining models and policy. Importantly, reviewing the ecocide of industrial forestry is also a means to understand that planetary eco-social emergency is, at its heart, a crisis of Western culture — a culture that erroneously sees itself separate and destroys the nonhuman world. The Hollywood Forest Project allows the artist and others to envision living life differently, in a life-sustaining and just world. Video available at: https://vimeo.com/channels/1119443

Joe Lee, Barracks Square Estate. This series of archival, historical and more recent photographs explores the history and peoples of a particularly haunted place in Dublin — what was once Barracks Square and what is now St. Michael’s Estate. These works contribute to a larger film project by the same name, to be released in early 2017.

Silivia Loeffler, Glas Journal: Deep Mappings of Dún Laoghaire Harbour (2014-2016). Images from 28 handmade artists’ books developed over a two-year period with local community members. This deep mapping project details archival materials, the artist’s responses, and residents’ memories and emotions of belonging and attachment to fourteen places between the West and East Piers of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour. This project was funded by the Irish Research Council.

Vukasin Nedeljkovic, Direct Provision Centre. Images from an ‘Asylum Archive‘ developed while the artist was housed in a Direct Provision Centre, these photographs, taken from April 2007 to November 2009, kept the artist ‘intact by capturing and communicating with the environment through photographs and videos. This creative process helped me to overcome confinement and incarceration’.

José Miguel Jiménez and Fearghus Ó Conchúir, The Casement Project: DRAFF interview (2016). This video features reflections by choreographer and dance artist Fearghus Ó Conchúir on his ART:2016 The Casement Project and includes rehearsal clips of six accomplished performers, Mikel Aristegui, Theo Clinkard, Philip Connaughton, Bernadette Iglich, Matthew Morris, and Liv O’Donoghue, who collaborated with Ó Conchúir on Butterflies and Bones (performance visual design by Ciaran O’Melia and sound design by Alma Kelliher). Also available at: https://vimeo.com/151993677. DRAFF is a print magazine focussing on process and creation in dance, theatre and art (http://www.draff.net).

Performing Landscapes CollectiveIarsma: Fragments from an Archive (2016). As the culmination of the Artists in the Archive project initiated by Nessa Cronin in 2015, Iarsma results from a collaboration by a group of artists commissioned to jointly work on the theme of landscape in relation to the Tim Robinson Archive housed in the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway. Choreographer Ríonach Ní Néill, composer and musician Tim Collins, and visual artist Deirdre O’Mahony worked with Nessa over a six month period to form the Performing Landscapes Collective. Iarsma was directed and produced by Deirdre O’Mahony on location in the Robinson Archive, the Burren and Connemara. The score was composed and arranged by Tim Collins, including newly commissioned pieces, ‘Anthem: Ómós Tim Robinson’, ‘The View from Above’, ‘Sir Donat’s Road’, ‘Sheas sí an Fód’, and ‘Labyrinth’. Ríonach Ní Néill’s recorded and live movement segments, ‘Bird in the Archive’, ‘Léarscáil an Cheathrú Rua’, and ‘my foot is my pen’ utilise contemporary dance environmental research and embodied mapping practices. The project was researched and curated by Nessa Cronin. A video about Iarsma is available at: https://vimeo.com/177667932/775452859b.

Artists’ statements

Monica de Bath: Since 2006 I have had a temporary studio within Ballydermot Works, an industrial peat excavation site on the Bog of Allen, Ireland, operated by Bord na Móna. I am not the only outsider there. A large pile of biomass made up of olive pellets and palm kernel shells lay up the road at the Power Station, where locomotives offload wagons of milled peat from the site to feed clouds to the iconic tower with its red and white stripes. It seems the right contrapuntal space to develop a poetic yet critical perspective on the reality of working and living within a Site of Tension. Engaging with some of the workers and with the site of their labour has shaped my work, combining elements of Painting, Conversations, Site Actions and Short Films. PLOT / CEAPACH was seeded at this site. It continues to explore the complexities and stories that are interlaced with a people’s relationship with land, with sea, with each other and with the urgent need to make a living at critical and contested sites. Such sites include the Bog of Allen, the Atlantic Blanket Bog, the West Coast of Ireland and the Northern European coastline of Fryslan. My practice does not privilege the exotic over the local, or the narrative of expert knowledge over that of lived experience. The work attempts, instead, to reveal the many distinct voices and imaginings.

Cathy Fitzgerald: Over the last decade, I have developed an art-led transversal eco-social art practice in which I weave diverse lifeworld and disciplinary experiences together to re-think alternatives to extractive, unsustainable industrial land practices. Since 2008, my ‘slow art’ practice, the Hollywood forest project, is inspired by the small conifer plantation community that I live with, in County Carlow, Ireland. In this project, I undertake actions to transform this monoculture conifer plantation to co-create a flourishing and permanent, mixed-species forest. My transversal practice, developed from my recent art practice-led doctoral research at the NCAD, Ireland, grows from various life experience in art, science, alternative forestry and Green politics and involves: exploring, learning about new-to-Ireland, Close-to-Nature continuous cover forestry (an alternative to monoculture, clearfell forestry), experimental film-making, writing, eco-philosophy and eco-criticism reflections, national forest policy development and ecocide law advocacy. (I succeeded in getting continuous cover forestry as the key point in the new Irish Green Party Forest policy (2012); the Green Party of Ireland and Northern Ireland recognise the crime of ecocide (the long term destruction of ecosystems by man) be supported in international law (2013). Overall, my ongoing eco-social art practice envisions a way to ‘softly subvert’ the stranglehold of industrial forestry. I see my practice as a meme for the Symbiocene (Albrecht, 2016) rather than the ecocide of the Anthropocene, as it emphasises ideas and practices to enhance the mutual flourishing of all life. See more at www.hollywoodforest.com

Joe Lee, a native Dubliner, since graduating from the National College of Art and Design, has worked as an artist and independent film and video maker. He has directed a wide range of film and television drama and documentary with cultural institutions including the National Theatre of Ireland, The Abbey Theatre and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, where his video installation work, Once Is Too Much, is represented in the permanent collection. He has won several awards at the Exhibition of Visual Art (EVA) Limerick and has individual works in a number of private collections. In 2009, he was film maker-in-residence for Dublin City Council where he made the popular documentary Bananas on the Breadboard (2010). He worked with Theatre Club at the Project Arts Centre, in the production HISTORY (2013) and the short film Rabbit Hole for their production of ADDICTION (2014). The dance film The Area (2013), which he co-directed with choreographer Ríonach Ní Neill of Ciotóg Dance Company and the Machusla Dance Group, has screened extensively at international dance film festivals since 2014 winning several awards. It was screened in the prestigious FRAME dance film festival in London in June 2016. His work on Fortune’s Wheel, The Life and Legacy of the Fairview Lion Tamer (2015) won the Dublin Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best Irish documentary at the Dublin International Film Festival in 2015. Joe is currently working on a documentary film, Barracks Square Estate, supported by the Richmond Barracks Visit Centre (an Irish State permanent reminder project for 2016 situated in Inchicore, Dublin) and CREATE the National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts which is due for release early in 2017.

Dr. Silvia Loeffler is a visual artist, transdisciplinary researcher and educator. Visual material and critical writing are her guides to establish a narrative of public intimacy. With a MA in Anthropology and a PhD in Visual Culture, Silvia is currently a Lecturer in Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design, and has previously lectured in the Dublin Institute of Technology/Art, Design & Print on the psychology and the deep-mapping of spaces. Most recently, Silvia was awarded the postdoctoral research funding from the Irish Research Council (2014-16), hosted at Maynooth University Department of Geography, for ‘Glas Journal: A Deep Mapping of Dún Laoghaire Harbour’, a participatory mapping project based on concepts of belonging and the multiple meanings of ‘harbour’. Glas Journal was the first project in the context of artist-led participatory research practice that the Irish Research Council funded on a postdoctoral level for a period of two years.

Fearghus Ó Conchúir is a choreographer and dance artist whose film and live performances create a space for audiences and artists to build communities together. Expressed in movement, these encounters with our sense of place, identity and history create layers of meaning that are affecting, thought-provoking and deeply resonant with audiences. He is Artistic Director of The Casement Project, part of the Arts Council’s ART:2016 programme. The Casement Project  is a multi-platform, transnational project that  dances with the queer body of British knight, Irish rebel and international humanitarian Roger Casement, to imagine a national body that welcomes the stranger from beyond the border, as well as the one already inside. Fearghus was brought up in the Ring Gaeltacht in Ireland and completed degrees in English and European Literature at Magdalen College Oxford, before training at London Contemporary Dance School. He is a former Trustee of the BBC Performing Arts Fund and a former board member of Dance Ireland, Dance Digital, Project Arts Centre and CREATE. He was the first Ireland Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme, and continues to contribute to the programme as a facilitator, coach and speaker. He is a Project Artist (member of Project Arts Centre’s associate artist scheme), and a PhD candidate and inaugural IRC Employment-based Scholar at Maynooth University Department of Geography. www.fearghus.net and www.thecasementproject.ie.

Vukasin Nedeljkovic: From April 2007 to November 2009, I was housed in a Direct Provision Centre while seeking asylum. Asylum Archive (www.asylumarchive.com) grew from that experience: ‘I kept myself intact by capturing and communicating with the environment through photographs and videos. This creative process helped me to overcome confinement and incarceration.’ Through Asylum Archive, I examine the notion of direct provision, constructing a theoretical framework on the issues of power, authority, detention, and supervision. The direct provision scheme was introduced in Ireland in November 1999 to accommodate asylum seekers in state designated accommodation centres. There were more than 120 centres located across the country, some of which include former convents, army barracks, hotels, and holiday homes. Most of the centres are situated outside cities on the periphery of society. The decision to house asylum seekers in remote state centres significantly reduces their possibilities for integration, leaving them to dwell in a ghettoized environment.

The Performing Landscapes Collective (Nessa Cronin, Deirdre O’Mahony, Tim Collins, Ríonach Ní Néill): Our collective seeks to explore and investigate new ways in which studies of the Irish landscape can be encountered, envisaged and re-imagined through various disciplinary lenses and arts practices. Using the ideas of ‘happenings’, ‘collisions’ and ‘encounters’, Iarsma was initiated as a project to open up questions as to what is a landscape archive, using the Tim Robinson Archive as the site for such investigations and interrogations. Not only is the material ‘contained’ in the archive of importance in itself, but its informational and institutional architecture determines the very nature of our encounter and frames the way in which we store, catalogue, disseminate, manage, engage, navigate, walk, think and write about knowledge, its place and its praxis. As a practice-led research project, Iarsma marks the culmination of the first phase of our work with the Robinson material and is an attempt to explore one fragment of the archive, to ‘fly off into wider spaces’, in a very different way.

Musical artists’ statements

Shane Hennessy is a solo fingerstyle guitarist and composer, originally from Carlow. A concertina player from a young age, Shane discovered the guitar at age 13. Inspired by listening to the music of James Taylor, he developed an interest in solo acoustic guitar, having been pointed in the direction of Tommy Emmanuel (with whom he recently performed, in Dublin), and rapidly became an avid fan and player of acoustic guitar music, citing players such as Clive Carroll, James Taylor, John Mayer, and Mark Knopfler – as well as Emmanuel – as his biggest influences. Featured in The Irish Times as ‘one to watch’ in 2014, Shane has performed across Ireland, including in major venues such as the National Concert Hall, festivals such as Electric Picnic and Longitude, and toured extensively in parts of Europe and Russia. He is also a regular to national television and radio broadcasts, and took up a residency as a featured performer in the Guinness Storehouse toward the close of 2015. His debut album Zephyrus was released in May 2015, and he will release his second album in 2017.

Aoife Kavanagh is a professional musician based in Carlow and the south-east and an IRC PhD scholar in the Department of Geography, Maynooth University. A trained pianist, violinist, flautist and violist, she works in community-based choral projects and music education, in addition to solo and ensemble performance across a variety of styles. This performance work has taken her across Ireland as well as to parts of Europe. Aoife also works in session recording, and has performed on a number of solo album and large recording projects, most recently with the Presentation School Choir, Kilkenny. A graduate of Geography and Music at Maynooth, she received the award for the best MA in Geography in 2015. Her current PhD research ‘maps’ music- and place-making in the Irish towns of Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford, and she has recently been awarded an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Scholarship for this work.