The Quickening at the Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art, Trinity Collage, Dublin

March 28 - June 23 2024

The Quickening, is a powerful new sound and moving image artwork by Deirdre O’Mahony, commissioned by The Douglas Hyde Gallery  and supported by an Arts Council of Ireland Project Award.

Bringing together urgent conversations, original music and moving image, The Quickening responds to issues facing farming, food production and consumption, in the face of present ecological and climate crises. A nationwide project, the culmination of over three years of research, it opened in an ambitious exhibition at The Douglas Hyde on March 29th with a Walls & Halls Tour in community spaces and farms in Carlow, Waterford, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wicklow, and Wexford, from April 18th to May 4th 2024. The exhibition will run until June 23rd 2024.

The Quickening emerged from gathering together and conversations. O’Mahony’s ‘Sustainment Experiments’ feasts generated open and frank discussions between between farmers, scientists and politicians which, transcribed, have become a libretto for this impactful new work. The libretto was developed by O’Mahony and writer Joanna Walsh, and is voiced and accompanied by singers and musicians, each with a distinctive pitch, style, pace and vocabulary.

Voices are central. Together they communicate the reality of farming life and the centrality of soil to our lives, as they deliberate over sowing and harvesting, extreme weather, volatile demands of the market, food regulation, and anxious, increasingly polarised discourses around food. All the while, other voices insist on being heard; breathing animals, the movements of insect and soil creatures. The viewer is made aware of the assembled, complex and collective roots that unsettle opposition between human and more than human.

This awareness is deepened by the accompanying moving imagery captured across rural Ireland from multiple perspectives. Varied viewpoints show the land and its many inhabitants affected by the unseasonal droughts, floods, and eroding, brought on by accelerating climate change. We are at a critical moment. As O’Mahony states, “The Quickening represents a polyvocal response to the most urgent questions affecting land and its inhabitants, giving voice to the invisible protagonists that shape our earth’s future and an idea of being-in-common that encompasses all earthly inhabitants.”

A film by Deirdre O’Mahony curated by Georgina Jackson

Produced by Georgina Jackson & Éilis Lavelle.

Libretto: Joanna Walsh and Deirdre O’Mahony with audio transcription by Fiona Gannon

Music Composition and performance: Michelle Doyle, Branwen Kavanagh, Siobhán Kavanagh, Ultan O’ Brien, and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin.

Cinematographer & Drone: Tom Flanagan. Additional Cinematographer: Saskia Vermeulen

Sound Recordist: John Brennan Sound Mix: John Brennan Editor and Colourist: Michael Higgins

The Quickening was commissioned by The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art

The Quickening is supported by The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon through a Project Award (2021/2023) and The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art.