The Map – a collaboration by Alice Maher and Rachel Fallon (Gallery 1)
We are the Map – text and sound installation by Sinéad Gleeson and Stephen Shannon (Gallery 2)
Public launch event – Friday 22 October 2021 at 6pm
Open to the public – 18 October 2021 – 29 January 2022
The Map, a collaborative work by artists Alice Maher and Rachel Fallon is the second exhibition in the Magdalene Series at Rua Red, curated by Maolíosa Boyle.
The series features the work of five of Ireland’s leading artists Amanda Coogan, Jesse Jones, Grace Dyas, Alice Maher and Rachel Fallon. They were commissioned by Rua Red in 2018 to create work in response to the history and legacy of Mary Magdalene and her association with the incarceration and institutionalisation of women, and to propose a new world uncurbed by religious, political or societal doctrine. It is a world viewed through the lens of contemporary feminism and feminist theology.
The Map is a monumental textile sculpture spanning the enormous space of Gallery One. With its own continents, winds, currents and constellations, The Map draws the viewer in, inviting a reorientation. Its richly worked surface is an epic mappa mundi where the structures and languages of cartography are used to imagine and re-imagine the life, legacy and mythology of Mary Magdalene and her impact on women’s lives. An alternative topographic and psychic landscape is uncovered in this witty, complex un-picking of the established narrative of Mary Magdalene.
“Maps are neither mirrors of nature nor neutral transmitters of universal truths. They contain silences as well as articulations, secrets as well as knowledge, lies as well as truth.”
The Sovereign Map: Theoretical approaches to cartography throughout history’ by Jacob, Conley and Dahl.
The Map comprises highly detailed hand-embroidered, sewn, painted, appliqued, printed, found, and crocheted components. The intense two and a half years of labour over three lockdowns to create the map is a testament to the invisible labour of women everywhere.
Maher and Fallon utilise the iconography of Renaissance maps and medieval tapestries, as well as the language of Victorian ‘cartes de tendre’ and moral schemas such as ‘the Pilgrim’s Progress’, to subvert and challenge the very belief systems and power structures that these maps were established to uphold.
To the side of The Map, a whisper, emanates from a deep blue space (Gallery 2).
You do not need to know my name but:
I am Mary, Amina, Penelope, Brigid,
Persephone, Frida, Maebh, Makeda,
Sojourner, Granuaile, Cassiopeia, Nan
I am Hecate, Rosa, Lakshmi, Aphra
the X-Case Girl; the women given letters not names,
Sappho, Marsha, Maura, Edna,
Green Tara, Black Madonna
I am the first girl child they put in the septic tank
Come to the loud, feral
Herland, SheLand, Theyland.
A Queenopolis, Cisopolis, Transopolis
A Republic of personhood.
I am the map.
We are the map.
‘We are the Map’; is an ekphrasis / intimate, immersive sound response located in Gallery Two, by writer Sinéad Gleeson and composer Stephen Shannon. Gleeson was originally paired with Maher and Fallon to write a text in response to the work in Gallery 1 for the catalogue publication –– but from this, a new collaboration developed. It became an integral audio piece, moving from Gleeson’s original text into an immersive soundscape that accompanies ‘The Map’.
Their incantatory sound quest is narrated by an ‘everywoman’ who moves around a new terrain. The everywoman’s freedom of movement is in contrast to the many women who were unable to escape the laundries, mother & baby homes or homes where they worked non-stop.
‘We are the Map’ is divided into 24 sections echoing the 24 books of the Odyssey. It’s a journey, a pilgrim’s progress, a quest through new lands and terrains.
Gleeson and Shannon collaborated on the sound and texture of the piece, adding music from Mary Barnecutt, Sadhbh Sullivan and Matthew Nolan. It builds to a final chorus of 36 individual voices united in a mantra; their herstories filling areas of Mahers and Fallon’s mappa mundi. Voices such as Lynn Ruane, Catherine Corless, Vicky Phelan, Ailbhe Smith, Felicia Speaks, Rosaleen Mc Donagh, Olwyn Fouéré, Marian Keyes, local women from Tallaght and the Magdalene artists themselves. They all carry their own stories that now inhabit ‘The Map’.
The Magdalene Series is generously supported by the Creative Ireland Programme South Dublin, The Arts Council and South Dublin County Council Arts Office.