Sarah Bliss. 2012.

In the spring of 2012, I spent six weeks in Ireland, launching a long-term project investigating the workings and failings of memory, and the complex, interwoven dynamics of economy, culture and religion in a remote Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region of southwest County Kerry. Through deep engagement with the landscape, community and history of the small township of Ballinskelligs (population 600), I seek to make concrete one unique expression of larger cultural, economic, environmental, and religious trends happening worldwide.

"You Leave Here" speaks to the cultural amnesia and dislocation that has accrued in Ireland due to several key factors: 1) the long history of British colonialism in Ireland and its concerted effort at cultural genocide; 2) the devastating dislocation and concomitant cultural destruction wrought by the Great Hunger of 1847-1849; and 3) the repeated environmental and economic collapses now accelerating in the late 20th and 21st centuries, which make it increasingly impossible for people to earn a living from land and sea, forcing them to emigrate or radically alter their way of life.

Layered tracks of a voice trace the body’s leave-taking across a specific landscape, interweaving personal narrative, fading communal memory, and geography. Imagery of moving hands engaged in a struggle at times tender, at times violent, insists on the intimacy of the relationship between the body, land, and language, and the pain that arises when that relationship is rent.

In this work, I highlight the importance of the link between not only culture and language, but also between the body and Place, and language and Place. The disembodied voice maps its way across a familiar landscape, but one that’s become unknown even to itself. What happens to the voice when its access to language is ruptured, or when language fails due to the impact of trauma? "You Leave Here" offers one outcome: it speaks through the body.

Camera, Sound, Editing, Production: Sarah Bliss
Voice: Michael Curran

With thanks to the Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat, Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

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