Political Land|Poetic Territory (2016)
Installation view. St Carthage Hall, Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Co. Waterford. October 2016
Political Land|Poetic Territory is a single channel video projection, made at a variety of locations across Ireland which include the Giants Causeway, Collins Barracks and the artist’s studio. Juxtaposing footage of soldiers practice marches, ancient geological landforms and the artist’s hand shaping and creating forms from clay, Skehan draws a line of enquiry through our manipulation of borders, hinting at their destructive role in our societies. A text by Seamas O’Reilly forms a narration drawing the disparate elements together – while a soundtrack made from auto-generating software suggests a visitor centre informative documentary.
Spread throughout the space are Skehan’s clay sculptures used in the film, breaking a straightforward viewing of the film, and reminding us of the artist’s hand and why an artist creates, and to what purpose it serves. The artist’s use of gesture in the film and sculptures, which sometimes appears almost violent, relate the known properties of the material used with physical geology and the exhibition space itself.
The work’s title plays on the exhibition title ‘Poetic Land, Political Territory’ curated by Christina Bridgewater for the Arts Council of England as part of the National Touring Exhibition programme (1995). This exhibition was part of a wider showcase of contemporary artwork, drawing on Northern Ireland in the post-Peace Process era of 1994.
Political Land Poetic Territory was supported by Dublin Institute of Technology and Lismore Castle Arts.