Abstract

The purpose of this text is to examine the cyclical methodologies of fieldwork, deep mapping and printmaking employed to investigate the changing land use of the Slieve Aughty Mountains, located in the west of Ireland. Landscapes subjected to extractivism bear the physical impact of accelerated carving on the Earth’s surface, leaving visible traces of activity. Without the overt implication of a trace, such as witnessed in extracted landscapes, how can slow violence be recognised by the print artist? What strategies can be applied by the print artist to interpret landscapes affected by environmental change but absent of spectacle? This enquiry seeks to investigate the porosity of slow violence as it reverberates across landscapes, boundaries and bodies. Through a combined method of fieldwork and studio practice, the work attempts to map and connect traces of slow violence to narratives of displacement and disruption within the Slieve Aughty landscape.

Introduction

Extraction and mining are key concerns in debates around the Anthropocene. In A World of Many Worlds (2018), Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser argue against the destructive activities of extractivism. Their text presents an evocative image depicting “[t]he removal of mountains in a time-efficient search for minerals”.[1] The violent portrayal of human-shaping forms a seductive visual anchor that can engage artists in their representation of anthropocentric narratives. This raises questions about how a printmaking practice can engage with landscapes in which violence enacts environmental change but remains concealed through a lack of spectacle or stark visual references. Without the overt implication of a trace such as evidenced in the extracted landscapes, how can slow violence be recognised by the print artist?

Examining a research project situated within the Slieve Aughty Mountains in the west of Ireland, this text reflects on a cyclical methodological framework of fieldwork and studio practice and visual strategies undertaken. Within the last fifty years, the landscape has undergone significant changes due to the commercial handling of natural resources in the mountains. Land use within the mountains is believed to have had a significant impact on major flooding events within the catchment area of the lowlands.

Flooding politics, commercial forestry, conservation practices and local heritage overlap to create complex and often contradictory relationships with the land. Landscapes such as these do not conform to the polarity of debates often associated with environmental damage. Heterogeneous communities contribute to both the conservation and destruction of an area. Those engaged in practices that accelerate environmental issues, such as commercial forestry and land reclamation, may also form communities displaced by flooding.

Slow Violence

The term “slow violence” refers to gradual environmental destruction that takes places over a longer period, frequently concealed, imperceptible and devoid of the immediate spectacle commonly associated with notions of violence.[2] Slow violence is often perceived as inevitable. It is too consistent to warrant the immediate scrutiny associated with disaster, presented by an image-centric media.[3] Rob Nixon proposes we engage in a different violence, a violence that is not immediate nor spectacular, rather one that throws its punches in slow motion, incremental, proliferating across decades and generations. He suggests the need for writer-activists to address how we imagine and give form to such unfolding environmental ruination.[4] This text will relay my approach as a researcher and print artist who investigates avenues to make visible the interruptive force of slow violence through a practice-based, action-led phenomenological approach.

Fieldwork

The area investigated has been known to me since childhood. Living in the lowlands of the Slieve Aughties, I have witnessed the impact of accelerated flooding on family, community and the other-than-human life within this landscape. My role as researcher-practitioner is supplemented by my lived experience as a local inhabitant. Inhabiting a certain rootedness within the community has a significant impact on what stories, voices and concerns are unearthed within the research. The complexity of slow violence necessitates a consideration of the historical, cultural and political influences that impact the current ecological state of the land. Fieldwork in this instance is less about the accumulation of knowledge than a process of uncovering questions that correspond with the specificity of the land in question. The relevance of being a local and connecting with the local emerges from an intimacy with a land and people that can only evolve through the slow process of a life lived in that place.

Pace of Place

While slow violence is the fundamental concern underlying this investigation, the term “slow” has emphasised the relevance of how overall notions of speed, depth and velocity emerge to inform this research. As the fieldwork develops, the idea of violence as “slow” is somewhat contradicted by the description of accelerated water flow in the area. However, this increase in speed was preceded by a complex history of ownership, poverty and commercial land use, which has impacted on the current state of the land and will continue to influence the future of the landscape. Slowness in this context refers to an ongoingness that relates to the generative quality of violence without a defined start or end date. Slowness here considers events whose impacts extend across temporalities, and involves attending to both the past and the future while staying rooted in the present. Through a corresponding practice of “slow residency”[5] the fieldwork concerns not only the conscious pace of engagement, but also the “quality of attention” with which we attend to the inherent qualities of the landscape.[6]

Fieldwork 1

Prior to instigating the first period of fieldwork, three strands of enquiry emerged as relevant to the scope of research: historical, industrial and ecological. Each avenue informed my investigation into how activities taking place within the mountains reshape the landscape and may impact flooding in the lowlands. The Slieve Aughties have a complex human history: the area once densely populated is now a relatively isolated landscape. During the Cromwellian period of British colonial rule, a plantation scheme was set up to remove the Catholic population and transplant them to poor land in the west of Ireland. People known as Ultachs (meaning from Ulster) were removed from fertile farmland in Ulster and sent to live in Connacht, giving rise to the saying “To Hell or to Connacht”.[7] The land of the Slieve Aughties was extremely poor for farming, and historically the area became associated with poverty and hardship. The population rose and fell through overlapping histories of Gaelic clans, wars, disease and famine.[8] In Nixon’s definition of slow violence—as spilling over decades, generations or geographies—he quotes the American writer William Faulkner, who argues “[t]he past is never dead, it’s not even past”, just as postcolonial landscapes are never really post.[9] Historical events within the Slieve Aughties have left residual traces that shape current perceptions of the landscape.

During the first period of fieldwork a member of the local heritage group shared a story that informed how I imagine and connect historical hardship to the current state of the landscape.

There was a man living there, way up in the mountain, he had only one cow. In those days, anyone living up there would have been very poor, the land was bad and difficult to farm, people would have lived off one or maybe two animals. In winter, animals would be kept inside the house by the hearth. One day there was a terrible accident, his cow somehow caught fire and died. That was the end for that man, he couldn’t survive without the cow and died shortly after, life up there was a life full of hardship.[10]

The story reflects a perception of desolation and poverty that was echoed in interviews and conversations I had with local people. However, the landscape encountered in the fieldwork revealed a somewhat different narrative to the historical poverty relayed by older generations. Walking through the forestry, I documented an array of electronics, furniture and anonymous plastic objects (Figs. 1 and 2). Tension emerged as the extensive issue of illegal dumping became evident; the sheer quantity of discarded items conflicted with the sense of scarcity conveyed in historical accounts.

Figure 1: Niamh Fahy, Illegal Dumping 2021, Slieve Aughty Mountain, Galway © Niamh Fahy
Figure 2: Niamh Fahy, Illegal Dumping, 2021, Slieve Aughty Mountain, Galway © Niamh Fahy

Clambering under pine to reach the dense thicket of trees, more bin bags, old TVs and microwaves embedded in the forest floor, concealed by a thin layer of growing moss. I emerge and walk towards a burnt-out car; a steady flow of water pushes its way around the metal body, reaching for the brook running underneath. I enter an alcove, the dread of finding more waste washes over me. Peering into the low canopy, the light catches a figure lying in a shallow stream. Its form is limb and mound, abstracted by the undergrowth. The weight of it, felt through the sound of the water rising as it flows over the heft of its mass. I crawl under the canopy, the branches hinder my progress, tearing skin and catching hair, a boundary. Moving closer, four glistening limbs emerge from the surface of the water. Details emerge as my eyes adjust to the low light, most of the body remains underwater. Gliding across the silky thighs and white skin of this anonymous creature, a pink tongue lolls in the current. The dark water runs red from the peaty earth, denying the possibility of knowing this body.

The creature is a young calf, likely dumped in the forestry to avoid the cost of carcass removal (Fig. 3). The body of the disposed animal and array of discarded objects intensified the peculiarity of the historical account of the cow catching fire. The impression of privation sits uncomfortably upon a landscape overflowing with the abandoned excesses of a capitalist society. The apparent contradictions enabled an understanding of how traces of residual poverty may inform and connect to the current state of neglect of the land.

Rotting corpse, invisible bacteria, aliens carried downstream, making their way back through river and stream, to be consumed, invading, integrating bodies, that discard such creatures. Blood and fascia formed from spoiled water, an invisible line traced from one body to the next.

Figure 3: Niamh Fahy, Porous, 2021, Slieve Aughty Mountain, Galway © Niamh Fahy

These speculative observations may exaggerate a cyclical narrative, but also function within a reflexive process that magnifies and connects components of a wider narrative. While slow violence has a relationship to historical narratives, it cannot be confined to a past event, the traces it leaves are more accurately an “indication of a lived present, of a mode of inhabiting both place and memory”.[11] It is within these terms that fieldwork might operate as a practice of “anti-conclusion”.[12] The findings from the initial fieldwork emphasise a damaged relationship to place, but also instigate questions of porosity between other-than-human bodies, land and materials. The purpose of which imagines and creates intimate connections between slow violence and our own bodies. In order to carefully attend to the landscapes examined within this research, it is important to reframe the notion of fieldwork as reflecting ourselves (our cells) as a component of a dynamic meshwork that exists across the landscape, to recognise not only why we engage in fieldwork but “to what extent we are the fieldwork”.[13] In this recognition, a responsiveness can develop that corresponds to the complex, fluid and unfolding environments we are part of.[14]

Artworks

Reflections on the shifting dynamics and formation of the landscape informed my approach on return to the studio. Working in lithography, I printed squares of cotton, folding the fabric with each turn of the press. Images of embossed routes within the mountains were fragmented through this process (Fig. 4). The final image layered the dissected landscape. The traces of previous layers are partially concealed, the landscape shifts to form a palimpsest, an ongoing making process where old narratives continually inscribe the present.[15]

Figure 4: Niamh Fahy, Formation, 2021, lithograph on cotton © Niamh Fahy

Multiple landscapes emerge through reconstructions that depend on fold and perspective. Through an experimental process, tests in photopolymer etching were also initiated. Polaroid images were over-exposed to exaggerate mounds of earth, appearing and disappearing as the land is gouged for planting, creating a ghostly impression, the image would appear erased. (Fig. 5.) The polaroid was then opened and placed underwater, performing a transfer process. The process, in which the thin film removed from its backing becomes flexible in the water, was photographed. The landscape curls and stretches underwater, contorting the perspective. The final image was printed as a photo-etching (Fig. 6). The etchings were then further fragmented to create a fluid rearrangement, where perspectives could be interchanged. While these responses to fieldwork interpret early impressions of the landscape, the practice of fragmenting and erasing the images instigated further reflections on “making visible” and how this could inform the next stages of fieldwork.

Figure 5: Niamh Fahy, Re-Erase, 2021, Polaroid and photo-etching tests © Niamh Fahy
Figure 6: Niamh Fahy, Folded spaces, 2021, Polaroid and photo-etching tests © Niamh Fahy

Interviews

During another period of fieldwork in late November 2021, local people affected by flooding in the area were interviewed. These conversations enabled the discussion of specific observations from the mountains, while local expertise and knowledge shaped and directed approaches to fieldwork. Findings from the interviews indicated that hydro-morphological changes in the mountains are attributed by local community members as having an impact on flooding in the lowlands. David Murray, Chair of the South Galway Flooding Committee (SGFC), shared his extensive knowledge of flooding in the area. Murray has established three areas of major changes in the landscape over the last fifty years, which correspond with an increase in flood events within the area. The three stakeholders include the state-owned commercial forestry company Collite, the Electrical Supply Board (ESB) Windfarm development and the local land users engaged in farming, land reclamation and dumping.[16]

Forestry

Collite have engaged in extensive planting and harvesting of coniferous trees, with thousands of acres planted across the Slieve Aughties. This activity is suspected of accelerating the speed and quantity of water draining from the mountains, increasing the risk of flooding in the lowlands. When investigating forestry planting practices within Collite, Murray came across the code for good forestry management, which confirmed “a good forest is a dry forest”, which relates to the dominant practice of mound planting in the Slieve Aughties.[17] Mound planting involves using a digger to dig a drain, the contents of the drain forming a mound where the tree is planted. This is a recommended forestry management practice as it keeps the root ball dry, accelerating the rate at which the trees can grow. As draining is an inherent best practice for forestry, widespread commercial forestry generates hydro-morphological change within the landscape. i.e. the diversion of water from one place to another.[18] Discussions between stakeholders can be contradictory, as in the early years of newly sown forest there is a significant volume of water run-off. After the canopy has matured (between ten to twenty years) it has the capacity to hold rain and then behaves like a flood mitigation resource. However, during the early years of plantation, harvesting and replanting there is an increase in water drainage from the mountains, diverting water away from the large expanses of forestry. Collite also constructed “grips”, which are large man-made channels that cut into bogland and carry water down the mountains, thus redirecting and accelerating the flow of water into the lowlands.[19] Locals have also reported witnessing water diverted from one catchment area through drains that travel along roads built for the purpose of forestry operations. While this may appear to have minor impact, the channels along which water travels and the direction of travel have been altered due to commercial operations.

Murray reports that a key issue within commercial forestry operations here is the lack of rigour undertaken within the Environmental Impact Analysis Report (EIAR). Collite carried out environmental impact analysis on isolated patches, which considered only two or three kilometres within forestry operations. The isolated nature of the study indicated a significantly flawed report. Murray highlighted the need for responsible forestry practice through applying good principles in undertaking a “holistic catchment-wide management programme… looking at the canopy, looking at the forestry, looking at every stream and everything within the whole catchment.”[20] Murray underlines that all reports issued on the EIAR undertaken by Collite repeat the same statement of “no real impact”. These are the reports that authorise actions that determine changes in the health and future of the environment and its inhabitants are entitled to a more extensive and rigorous response than “no real impact”.[21]

Figure 7: Niamh Fahy, Mound planting, 2022, Slieve Aughty Mountain, Galway © Niamh Fahy

Forestry operations also impact on flooding through sediment run-off. There are around ten kilometres of underground rivers that run from mountains to sea, with some of the rivers travelling underground. Deep holes along the channel of the river, known as swallow holes, open up, directing the course of the river underground five or six times until it reaches the sea. Forestry operations may increase the amount of sediment that gets washed down into the system. This sediment lodges in the swallow holes, behaving like a kind of cholesterol for the entire underground network.[22] Underground channels work through a funnelling action, allowing the water to enter and exit the system. When rainfall increases, the flow of water accelerates and the system can no longer handle the amount of water trying to get through, causing the water to rise and overflow, leading to flooding.[23]

Wind Farms

The state-owned ESB Windfarm development in the Derrybrien region of the Slieve Aughties has contributed to considerable changes in the mountain landscape. The ESB engaged in an unauthorised wind farm development, cutting down over six hundred acres of forest and constructing wind turbines on the mountain slopes without fulfilling the necessary requirements indicated in an EIAR.[24] In October 2003, a landslide occurred as a result, contaminating the water network and causing a devastating impact on the environment. In an attempt to mitigate the landslide, the ESB responded by building a robust draining scheme.[25] Seventy drains, approximately six feet wide and eight feet deep stood at the base of every turbine, large troughs to effectively drain the area.[26] Concerned about the impact on the hydrology of the Slieve Aughties, the SGFC sought advice from the European Commission. The SGFC were recommended to write to the ESB, outlining their concerns on the potential impacts of the drainage system, but the ESB refused to engage with local community groups.[27]

Following this, the European Commission issued a court order fining the Irish government €5M plus €15,000 a day until they resolved outstanding issues. They were also ordered to engage with local stakeholders, including members of the SGFC. The ESB started an official mitigation process, publishing an EIAR nearly eleven years later, but they refused to include local stakeholders in the process.[28] The SGFC felt the report was deficient and lacked accountability. Without the resources or skills to analyse the report, they returned to the European Commission, which issued a response on the respective EIAR, confirming the significant flaws of the report and the ESB’s failure to include the concerns or recommendations of local stakeholders, and therefore the fine would continue to be levied.[29] The ESB’s refusal to engage with local inhabitants has drained millions of government funds. Murray tracks the current accumulated fine for the taxpayer amounting to €18,010,798, still growing daily.[30] SGFC representatives have described the ESB as bullying the local community and feel they have been regarded as an annoyance to them running their business.

The South Galway Flood Relief Project engaged in public consultation, where the response indicated a public perception of the mountain as a threat. The severe impact of flooding paralyses the local area, carries pollution and damages livelihoods and wildlife. Those interviewed spoke of the psychological isolation endured due to flooding. The SGFC share the polarising effect of flooding on the community. Tensions increase between landowners as people affected attempt to alleviate flooding by encouraging others to release water through their lands, often leading to disputes, further alienating and fracturing the community. Interviews revealed that local knowledge or insight was not sought as part of investigating the hydro-morphological changes in the landscape.[31] This is highly problematic in its exclusion of inhabitants, reducing living landscapes to statistical information without the support of lived experience, which emerges from observation, local culture, historical context and physical engagement with the land. It also accentuates a lack of agency experienced within the community, deepening a sense of distrust and discouraging people from investing proper care in the landscape. Findings here are indicative of issues emerging from the exclusive use of data to determine economic and political decisions that affect local environments. As Karen Barad states, “knowing is a material practice of engagement as part of a world in its differential becoming”.[32] To know this land, and others like it, is to look beyond the limitations of the data presented. It is to engage with the intimate nuance of lived experience and the unfolding facets of an ecology that forms this place.

Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping has proliferated across the Slieve Aughties in recent years. Having witnessed huge amounts of rubbish dumped during fieldwork visits, questions arose as to why a Special Area of Conservation (SCA) was so severely affected. Kevin Cunningham, a member of local heritage and walking groups, offered insight into local relationships with Slieve Aughties. He suggested the area had been neglected through land mismanagement, enhancing a perception of the Slieve Aughties as a “wasteland”.[33] Following the economic crash of 2008, a herd of wild horses began to grow in the mountains. Horses purchased during the so-called Celtic Tiger boom years were abandoned in the Slieve Aughties. Consecutive years of horse dumping led to an estimated herd of over 150 horses on the mountains between 2008 and 2012. The growing population of horses had a significant impact on the ecosystem, with hooves and grazing damaging vegetation and affecting protected species such as the grouse. As their population grew, there was less grazable land available, resulting in the horses starving in the winter months.

It’s not pretty when you see twenty, thirty-five, forty horses starving in January, that’s not pretty, but the thing about it is, no one took ownership of that, that’s our hill, that’s the local farmers commonage, that should never have happened.[34]

Cunningham noted a transient quality to the mountains, an un-rootedness that impacts agency and ownership. Perceptions of the area as a wasteland, lie contradictory to its value as a site of historical and ecological importance.

Porosity and Bodies

The physicality of the fieldwork posed significant challenges in my efforts to engage with the landscape. Severe weather conditions limited travel and freezing temperatures affected camera use. The environment sets its own boundaries through short daylight hours and difficult terrain. This landscape demands you meet conditions as they arise in a practice of listening to the land. Buddhist teacher Michael Stone discusses the role of ethical responsiveness as an expression of interconnectedness or intimacy.[35] It is through situational ethics that intimacy emerges between the body and the landscape. Through an attentive response to conditions and through refraining from over-prescribing too insistent a narrative, intimacy unfolds. A sense of care can develop through an approach of anti-conclusion that leaves room for relationships to unfold without resolve.[36]

Deep drains carrying water from the mountains, roads and wild horses are distinct traces of violence. Other traces are made evident through the calibration of the body’s faculties to the qualities of the land it inhabits.

No Real Impact, forest floor underfoot, unremarkable images. Toe and heel rebound against the bounce of bog in November. Why this dry? No Real Impact. An exercise in expansion, silence in the canopy, squeezed between branches, the discomfort of unfurling in restricted space. No Real Impact.

The body’s experience of recording commercial forestry is contradictory to reports that claim there is no significant impact, valuable insight circulates between the channels of the body and the environment, creating space to consider the capacity of the body to understand the manifestation of slow violence through all senses.

Interviews and fieldwork seem to echo a familiar narrative of man harnessing nature through industrialisation and nature squeezed by capitalist culture. Environmental impact studies carried out in isolation deny the significance of relations between materials. Such reports enforce a repressive boundary between nature and culture, where we regard ourselves as separate and therefore reject ourselves as part of nature. These practices seem to suggest that the belief of nature as singular remains the prevalent narrative, emerging from what Raymond Williams emphasises as the influence of monotheism that presents a “single essence or principle: a nature”,[37] within which a multiplicity of practices are enclosed and the singularity of which can then be governed.[38] This notion of singularity leaves a highly problematic imprint in the community, demonstrating how landscapes are transformed into what John Law refers to as “a one-world-world, a world that has granted itself the right to assimilate all other worlds and by presenting itself as exclusive, cancels possibilities for what lies beyond its limits.”[39] Through expanding one world we diminish another. Tipping the scale off balance, we abandon an abundance of diversity that supports the majority in favour of a limited and exclusive wealth available to few.

The separation and eradication of such worlds raises questions on how permeability between land and bodies can be imagined through artistic practice. The notion of a boundary is dissolved through “spatial porosities” that allow us to imagine “qualities rather by transitions instead of boundary lines.”[40] This supports the heart of Nixon’s argument that slow violence cannot be contained, that violent actions will inevitably leak across bodies, materials and geographies. Nixon suggests that slow violence can be countered by the ability of the storyteller to “give figurative shape to formless threats”.[41] Porosity encourages us to imagine beyond what can’t be seen, to imagine where bodies of water and human bodies might overlap. In opposition to a one-world world, porosity might be imagined through De la Cadena and Blaser’s proposal of a Pluriverse, recognising the plural perspectives, heterogeneous practices and diverse life forms that compose a world of many worlds.[42] A Pluriverse imagines and magnifies the multiple, open-ended practices that co-exist within an interconnected meshwork that allows for a multitude of worlds to emerge.[43]

The images of the calf raised concerns about how slow violence would be negotiated within my practice without representing violence or spectacle. Working in lithography, a certain degree of self-censorship is applied, as the body of the calf is juxtaposed and printed against the body of water. Details within both images remain supressed by the other. (Fig. 8) The body of water and the body of the calf were recorded at different points on the mountain. The position of the two bodies proposes a sense of movement and exchange, while the scale reflects the intimacy of leaning into dark water. Overlapping images create permeable narratives, while the printed border of the image segregates the bodies, denying their connection. Porosity exists within what philosopher Geraldine Finn outlines as “the space between experience, expression, and representation”.[44] This interstice between landscape and making allows for a percolation process to take place. The pause between encounter and response is an integral component of slow residency, during which understanding is given time to trickle down into a considered response. The intention is not only to recognise and interpret slow violence, but to produce interventions that activate connections to generate new ways of looking and thinking about slow violence in the landscape.

Figure 8: Niamh Fahy, Water Bodies, 2022, lithograph © Niamh Fahy

Slow violence may be understood as a permeable force of trauma within the landscape. However, Jill Bennett cautions against creating a singular function of art “about” trauma or violence. Framing trauma in this way is reductive, potentially distorting experience or excluding the possibility of multiple meanings, contradictions and narratives to exits within the work.[45] Trauma here may be considered through a porous quality that extends across bodies and temporalities. Slippery in its lack of definition, the difficulty lies in confronting its presence without diminishing its impact. Bennett suggests applying Gilles Deleuze’s term “encountered signs” to “describe a sign that is felt rather than recognised or perceived though cognition”. She argues that affect or emotion is a “catalyst for critical enquiry”[46] in that it functions as an “effective trigger […] for critical enquiry or deep thought as it grasps us, forcing us to engage involuntarily”.[47] On this account art is not conceptual itself but rather an embodiment of a sensation that stimulates thought, the intelligence “comes after” as Deleuze puts it, not before. Art therefore is not enslaved by any particular understanding, it is always productive of ideas.[48]

Within this series of work, the understanding of trauma unfolds within a sense-making process that emerges through subtly connecting parts of the land to the water. Perspective in the photographic sources suggest the close proximity of the body to the material. The printed process enables mapping connections between the visible and invisible narratives on the mountain. Two images of rivers, one from the lowlands and the other from the mountains are printed alongside each other (Fig. 9). The image examines the notion of diversion, as the speed and direction of the water is emphasised.

Narratives are constructed where materials and land conceal each other, obstructing the possibility of seeing through them (Fig. 10). Strategies to introduce tension emerge through the use of colour, with one half of the image printed as a relief woodblock, a dark expanse of red impresses the page, printed to the edge (Fig.11). The red runs to the corners of the page, seeping through the given boundary. The red expanse overlaps with the image of stagnant water printed to the right, bodies exchanging and obscuring each other. The use of red corresponds with the red of the sandstone in the mountain, the darkness of the peaty water and the stagnancy of the forestry run-off. The work plays with the obscurity of slow violence, overlapping materials and geographies, it leaks across borders, uncontainable.

Figure 9: Niamh Fahy, Divert, 2022, lithograph © Niamh Fahy
Figure 10 and 11: Niamh Fahy, Divide, 2022, lithograph and relief © Niamh Fahy
Figure 10 and 11: Niamh Fahy, Divide, 2022, lithograph and relief © Niamh Fahy

In Flesh and Blood (Fig. 12) the work attends to the limitations of the visible through obscuring images of water documented from the forestry’s grips. A stain of pink and red lie under an expanded, almost microscopic detail in the water. The images attempt to fasten flesh and water, acknowledging connections between bodies while demonstrating the impossibility of seeing them clearly.

Figure 12: Niamh Fahy, Flesh and Blood, 2022, lithograph © Niamh Fahy

Conclusion

Through a continued attention to landscape, the research evolves as a conversation that responds to temporal traces and ongoing activities within the mountains. Henri Lefebvre emphasised the importance of dwelling in the “lived” space (le vécu) where imagination and dreams take shape. Within this gap, perceived space is rearranged “to create a new space through creative imagining”.[49] It is within this space that artists can challenge the unequivocal notions of good and bad that allude to different attitudes towards landscape change, perhaps creating possibilities that acknowledge the contradictions, ambiguity and nuances that are constituent of the landscape. Initial findings emphasise the necessity to open up towards a multiplicity of voices that compose the landscape. While the research is site-specific and undertaken through a print practice, fieldwork and deep mapping, it is not intended to isolate or elevate my role as an individual authority but rather to explore how a creative practitioner may examine strategies to map an interdependent and heterogeneous world. The construction of printed assemblages is aimed at provoking the viewer to imagine a pervious connection between lifeforms, while recognising the contradictory perspectives and multiple narratives that shape the landscape. In loosening notions of the landscape as fixed or segregated, the possibility of a Pluriverse emerges “not as a matter of fact… but as matter of care”.[50] Within this work, care begins through imagining connection between bodies, land and water.

Footnotes

  1. De la Cadena, Marisol and Blaser, Mario. A World of Many Worlds. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2018. p. 2.
  2. Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2013. pp. 2–10.
  3. Ibid., p. 13.
  4. Ibid., p. 10.
  5. Modeen, Mary and Biggs, Iain. Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place: Geopoetics, Deep Mapping and Slow Residencies. London: Routledge, 2020. pp.1–9.
  6. Ibid., p. 55.
  7. Nugent, Pat. “The Historical geography of the Slieve Aughty”. 22 April 2006. Available at http://www.aughty.org/heritage.htm (accessed 20220-01-03).
  8. Ibid.
  9. Faulkner, William. Requiem for a Nun. New York: Routledge. 1951. Cited in Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, p. 8.
  10. Dympna Fahy interviewed by author, Ardrahan, 28 December 2021.
  11. Bennett, Jill. Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma, and Contemporary Art. Redwood City: Stanford University Press 2005. p. 70.
  12. Modeen and Biggs, Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place, p. 6.
  13. Ibid., p. 214.
  14. Ibid., p. 215.
  15. Bennett, Empathic Vision, p. 74
  16. David Murray interviewed by Author, Ardrahan, 28 October 2021.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Murray, David. “Derrybrien Windfarm fines pass €15 million mark with no end in sight”. South Galway Floods. Available at https://southgalwayfloods.wordpress.com/2021/09/12/derrybrien-windfarm-fines-pass-15-million-mark-with-no-end-in-sight/ (accessed 2021-12-29).
  23. Murray, David. “Slowing the Flow”. South Galway Floods. 15 March 2016. Available at https://southgalwayfloods.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/managing-the-mountain-slow-the-flow/(accessed 2021-12-29).
  24. Murray interviewed by author.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Murray, David. “Windfarm penalty tracker”. South Galway Floods. Available at http://southgalwayfloods.pythonanywhere.com/ (accessed 2022-03-24).
  31. Bridie Willers interviewed by Author, Ardrahan, 31 October 2021.
  32. Barad, Karen, Meeting the Universe Halfway. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2007. p. 89.
  33. Kevin Cunningham interviewed by author, Ardrahan, 30 October 2021.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Stone, Michael. Awake in the World: Teachings from Yoga and Buddhism for Living an Engaged life. Boulder: Shambala. 2011. p. 89.
  36. Modeen and Biggs, Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place, p. 214.
  37. Law, John and Lien, Marianne. “Denaturalising Nature”. In De La Cadena and Baser, A World of Many Worlds. Durham, p. 134.
  38. Ibid., p. 151.
  39. Law, John. “What’s wrong with a One-World World”. Distinkton: Scandanavian Journal of Social Theory. Vol. 16. No. 1. 2015. pp. 126–139. Cited in De la Cadena and Blaser, A World of Many Worlds, p. 3.
  40. Benjamin, Walter and Lacis, Asja. “Naples”, in Frankfurter Zeitung. 19 August 1925. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Cited in Modeen and Biggs, Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place, p. 213.
  41. Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, p. 10.
  42. De la Cadena and Blaser, A World of Many Worlds, p. 4.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Finn, Geraldine. Why Althusser Killed His Wife: Essays on Discourse and Violence. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press. 1996. Cited in Modeen and Biggs, Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place, p. 213.
  45. Bennett, Empathic Vision, p. 3.
  46. Deleuze, Gilles. Proust and Signs [1964]. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: George Braziller. 1972. Cited in Bennett, Empathic Vision, p. 7.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Ibid., p. 8.
  49. Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell. 1991. Cited in Modeen and Biggs, Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place, pp. 213–214.
  50. Matters of care as conceptualised by Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, in Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2017. Cited in De la Cadena and Blaser, A World of Many Worlds, p. 5.