Earth Writings Exhibition

Library, Maynooth University
November 20 2019

Pauline O’Connell

visual artist | curator | educator

Exhibition Details:

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You Cannot Climb a Hedge (2018). A cine-poem film project; two-screen HDV, dimensions variable.

You Cannot Climb a Hedge reflects on a changing rural identity where tangible and intangible boundaries are at once local and global, material and immaterial.

In 2003, I realised that the upland area where I live in County Kilkenny was a blank on the electoral map. The area was given up for the key; referencing common landmarks such as rivers, hills, roads, towns, and villages throughout the rest of the county.

Thinking through this cartographic erasure more broadly – whilst working creatively on my doorstep – this ‘gap’ in the map provides an aperture through which to reveal the conceptual disinvestment, critical neglect and subordination of the rural in general in Ireland. This ‘gap’ motivates my practice-led research which aims to speak-back-to its historical and political basis. Gaps such as these incite us to ask how the rural is constructed, and what the cultural politics of identity are that go into these constructions.

The hedge (here) becomes an allegory for how we explore, relate to and engage with human/nature environments and with each other when rooted in places of transition. This allegory illuminates the zone where the so called old rural – as myth, and, new rural – as multiple, fragmented and contradictory or post-rural, meet.

Research for this project was funded by The Arts Council of Ireland and CREATE Ireland.

Artist’s Biography

Pauline O’Connell is a visual artist, curator and educator based in rural County Kilkenny, Ireland and Amsterdam. Born in Dublin, Pauline studied Fine Art, Mixed Media at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology (1988-92), and received a 1st class M.A. in Social Practice and the Creative Environment at Limerick School of Art and Design (2012).

She is completing a PhD at the University of Amsterdam, School of Heritage, Memory and Material Culture, where her practice-led, (auto)ethnographic research uses a range of media, including sound, video, photography, drawing, installation, and text, to focus on post-rural identity.