OBLIVION /SEACHMALLTACHT | Aideen Barry at Source Arts Centre


OBLIVION /SEACHMALLTACHT | Aideen Barry at Source Arts Centre Date/Time
Date(s) - 18/03/2022 - 22/04/2022

Source Arts Centre





Source Arts Centre



A Solo show by Aideen Barry

curated by Sarah Searson


Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm/Saturday 2pm to 5pm

Source Arts Centre is delighted to present Aideen Barry’s solo exhibition OBLIVION /SEACHMALLTACHT/ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ,  commissioned by The Irish Traditional Music Archive & Music Network in response to the Bunting Commission Award. This show is part of a large touring project created by Barry and co-produced by Source Arts Centre, LImerick City Gallery of Art & Centre Culturel Irlandais. The work tours these three venues with support from the Arts Council of Ireland Project Awards 2021.

Official Launch 26.03.22

Barry’s epic new multi-media work OBLIVION /SEACHMALLTACHT /ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ was made in collaboration with internationally renowned Inuit Canadian singer and song writer RIIT ᕇᑦ, Irish harpist Aisling Lyons, composers Stephen Shannon & Cathal Murphy and with costume design by Margaret O’ Connor. In this spectacular installation at The Source in Thurles Barry has responded to multiple sites of research
and a commission from the Irish Traditional Music Archive and Music Network to respond to The Bunting Harp Collection archives. The installation merges two indigenous musical cultures to create a new sound. It includes Inuit throat singing, Irish harp and electronica beats to make a dark anthem full of gothic tropes, a haunting call to arms asking: What is the role of art and artists at a time of great uncertainty, environmental collapse
and the prospect of a world of ruin if we do nothing at all? Much of the film’s imagery is rooted in Irish folklore, mythologies around Balor and the poisoned eye: a metaphor for a poisoned world. The film, sound score and moving image work are inspired by dystopian horror, uncertainty and the pandemic. Barry draws attention to a collective state of denial, questioning society’s blindness to acknowledging crisis, its impact and role in changing socio-political cultures and widening global inequality. The sound and imagery of the work is designed to overwhelm us and play with
our senses. While researching the Bunting Archives, Barry was influenced by the blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan’s lamentations for Owen Roe O’Neill. The fate of O’Carolan’s own body becomes the impetus for the song’s construction. The themes of blindness, sight and sound, poisoned lands and the precipice weave together to create a dark work that is potent with terrible beauty. The soundtrack opens with the stunning voice of singer and electronic musician RIIT ᕇᑦ. Who grew up with the Inuit tradition of throat and breath singing. Barry has written lyrics for Oblivion translated in Inuktitut. This follows a pattern which mirrors the practices of bardic poets in the medieval time who would punctuate the music of the harp with words. In a parallel with the history of the Irish harp, in the eighteenth century, missionaries arriving in the North of Canada repressed Inuit culture, and banned the practice of throat singing. In the 1980s, and in the following decades, younger generations worked with elders to learn traditions that were under threat of being lost. Barry commissioned Margaret O’Connor to design the crowns worn by the three protagonists in the film inspired by those worn by some of the bardic verse-makers. With Barry she has made an interpretation of a historic medieval costume which includes a crown emblazoned with an emblematic symbol of the eye of Balor on hats made of eel skins, which was believed to have a kind of a healing property to poisoned bodies. In another collaborative partnership Barry has work with the nail technicians in Tropical Popical who made fabulously extreme nails for harpist Aisling Lyons making reference to historical and contemporary popular culture, as harpists were historically known to have extremely long nails which parallel now with artists such as Cardi B or Lil Nas X. This multimedia work merges two unique indigenous musics which have faced oblivion and asks artistic questions of what is the role of art and artists when faced with seismic threats to our culture and way of life.


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