Iarsma: Fragments from an Archive, is an Artists in the Archive project initiated by Nessa Cronin in 2016.
Three artists were commissioned to work collaboratively on the theme of landscape in relation to the Tim Robinson Archive at NUI Galway. Composer and musician Tim Collins, dancer and choreographer Ríonach Ní Néill, and Deirdre worked with Nessa over a six month period to form the Performing Landscapes Collective in order to explore and investigate new ways in which studies of the Irish landscape could be encountered, envisaged and re-imagined through various disciplinary lenses and forms of arts practice. Invited to participate in the Centre for Landscape Studies, UNISCAPE International Conference, Landscape Values: Place and Praxis from 29 June– 2 July 2016 at NUI Galway, the artists and academic used their skills and knowledge to communicate their research through a performative event, and the occasion captured in the following film.
The film componant was directed and produced by Deirdre O’Mahony and filmed by Tom Flannagan on location in the Burren and in the Tim Robinson Archive. It featured the Killnaboy Mapping Group at the X-PO project who have added to the knowledge initially gathered by Robinson in his map of the Burren. The score was composed and arranged by Tim Collins including the 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 and singing by Lillis Ó Laoire.
Deirdre O'Mahony,Film still, Iarsma Tim Robinson Archive NUI Galway. Photograph by Tom Flanagan, 2016
Iarsma was initiated as a platform to unpack questions as to what is a landscape archive using the Tim Robinson Archive as the site for exploring alternative ways in which we know and make place. Not only is the material 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, dance, sing and write about knowledge, its place and its praxis. As a practice-led research project, Iarsma marks the culmination of the first phase of work with the Robinson material and is an attempt to explore one fragment of the archive, to ‘fly off into wider spaces’ with ‘an unknown language’ and ‘an untried art’, in a very different way.
Sir Donat's Road, film still by Tom Flannagan from the Iarsma film made by Deirdre O'Mahony 2016
Deirdre O'Mahony and Ríonach Ní Néill during filming for the Iarsma research project in the Tim Robinson Archive NUI Galway. Photograph by Tom Flanagan, 2016