In the time of Ireland’s Great Famine, an elderly gravedigger revisits a traumatic event through the decaying visions of his dreams.
In 1996 the half-hour IFB/RTÉ period drama entitled ‘Poorhouse’ was broadcast. Directed by Frank Stapleton and based on a short story by Michael Harding, the film is set during the time of Ireland’s Great Famine. The plot concerns the relationship of an elderly gravedigger and a young woman. Powerfully evoking a cultural memory of hardship and loss from 150 years previously, the film slipped into obscurity in a forward-looking era.
15 years later the discarded film rushes were discovered outdoors on the Ringsend Peninsula, Dublin - literally unearthed - by film-maker Michael Higgins. The scattered reels of decayed 16mm material consisted of some 120mins of slated scenes, re-takes and camera tests. Restored, re-worked and re-edited, the corrupted frames now resemble fragments of memories distorted through exposure to time and it’s natural elements. Through the layers of cracked emulsion images struggle to re-surface and find a place on screen, as memories for a new audience.
Set to a haunting score by Brian Conniffe and Suzanne Walsh, the gravedigger's visions emerge from beneath a harsh new layer of archeological detritus, their pathos accentuated by their delicate state of fragmented survival.
Michael Higgins is a filmmaker and visual artist based in Dublin. He has completed 5 feature films and numerous short films. His work involves a range of both digital and analog technologies concerning people’s perception of time and reality.
Brian Conniffe is a cross-genre, experimental musician who has worked with a long list of collaborators including Nurse With Wound, notable for a style that fuses the darkest psychedelia with disquieting ambience. Suzanne Walsh is a visual artist and musician, whose practice involves musical collaborations with various artists as well as her own solo artistic work, which cross over between art and music worlds. Within music she is interested in playing with the concepts of both how music is written and performed as a vocalist, and exploring the boundaries between musical styles. Together their work states inspiration from a wide range of non-musical sources, including the film work of Derek Jarman, Maya Deren and Kenneth Anger.