Oppression Digestion


 A history of empire through the potato.

Presented as a performance lecture, O’Mahony examines attitudes towards farming, land use, post-colonial identity, and food security, while making Boxty pancakes from raw and cooked potatoes. Drawing on research for the SPUD project, she traces the history of global and bio-political power through the potato and the role it played in consolidating and concentrating power in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The potato brought with it a possibility of freedom from recurring cycles of famine but also a precarious dependency on monoculture.

The lecture will conclude by branding the Boxty with a M.O.P.E. (Most Oppressed People Ever), branding iron. MOPE is a term coined in the 1990s to ridicule claims that the Irish were more ill-treated than any people, at any time in history.  Throughout the SPUD project the artist has used the tool to prompt a re-thinking of our relationship with a food that is still associated for some, with the idea of shame. The tongue-in-cheek acronym referring to Ireland’s colonial past and unacknowledged, undigested subjectivities and fears that get in the way of thinking about political inertia and global inequalities in the face of climate change and future food security.


Directed & Written: Deirdre O’Mahony.

Camera & Editing: PhotoIreland.

Produced by PhotoIreland Festival in the context of PhotoIreland Festival 2021 ‘Bite The Hand That Feeds You’ as part of the CRITICAL RECIPES channel series. https://2021.photoireland.org/main-ev…