Persistent Return Installation VISUAL Photo Ros Kavanagh

The Persistent Return

The Persistent Return VISUAL Carlow until September 9th Natuurmuseum Fryslan, Leeuwarden, Netherlands, 12 October 2018 - 6 January 2019 The Persistent Return is a film project that represents the culmination of almost a decade of research for O’Mahony’s research-led project SPUD . The artwork is a partnership production between cultural producers, Workhouse Union and VISUAL Carlow and supported by an Arts Council Project Award with residency support from the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The moving-image installation follows the migration of potato from the Andes to Europe, the role it played in consolidating and concentrating power in the northern hemisphere and the human cost of privileging scientific and political rationalism at the expense of place-based knowledge. Filmed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Irish Architecture Archive, the former Workhouse in Callan, County Kilkenny and at agricultural research centres in Ireland, it reflects on technologies that helped alleviate famine but also enabled the establishment of empires, leading to a disastrous dependency on monoculture in Ireland. Vocal improvisations by Branwen and Julie Kavanagh have an electronic counterpoint in Alexandru Trendler’s electronic score, highlighting tensions between the imperialism of the enlightenment project and tacit cultivation knowledge. Poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill drew upon material from the National Folklore Collection for a voice over in Irish that accompanies Irish Loy (foot-plough) expert Gerry Mullins as he makes a perfectly straight potato ridge. Scientific technicians at the National Irish Potato Collection in Donegal, precisely remove the growing tips of a potato micro-plant, ‘cleaning’ the heritage variety of disease. These are reminders that skills of both head and hand that are needed if we are to actively respond to the challenges presented by climate change, food security and the environmental effects of industrial food production. Potatoes are potent images that reveal conscious and unconscious attitudes to land and otherness, both in Ireland and beyond. The film presents a poetic understanding of the potatoes' cultural and economic role in our histories, a reminder that real sustainability lies in our capacity to provide for ourselves. (Duration: 12:21) Co-produced by Workhouse Union and VISUAL Carlow Writer/Director: Deirdre O’Mahony Camera: Tom Flanagan Editing and visual Post Production: Connie Farrell Irish Script: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill Vocals: Branwen Kavanagh and Julie Kavanagh, Twin Headed Wolf Electronic Score: Alexandru Trendler Voiceover: Deirdre O’Mahony, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill Sound: John Brennan Audio Post Production: Brendan Rehill, Outer Limits Post Production Special thanks to: Desmond Byrne, Silversmith Kilkenny Design Centre Gerry Mullins, The Irish Loy Association, Ennistymon, County Clare Eamon Tobin, Basket Maker, Tullogher, Co Kilkenny Additional thanks to: Camphill Ballytobin, Gerry Doherty of Tops Potato Centre Donegal, Pat Fitzgerald, Janice Haugh and the IMMA Residency Programme, Irish Architectural Archives, Catherine Marshall, Ewen Mullins Teagasc Oak Park, Dr Áine Macken Walsh Teagasc Athenry. Dutch Script Translation: Nynke Spottiswood Funded through an Arts Council Visual Arts Project Award, commissioned by Workhouse Union as part of Workhouse Guild with additional support from VISUAL Carlow and the residency programme of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The Persistent Return exhibition at the Natuurmuseum Fryslan is supported by Culture Ireland