2021-09-29 18:00:00


This webinar stream is devoted to Currents and welcomes for its first webinar the following presentation and roundtable:

Down through the undercurrents of history:

John Akomfrah, Ayesha Hameed, Marianne Keating, Ailbhe Ní Bhrian, four artists working “in the wake”.

Multi-screen installations and video montages prove efficient apparatuses to explore the rifts of colonial history and correlate this traumatic legacy to other forms of human and non-human exploitation. The sea, which features in the works of these four contemporary artists, is at once a poetic trope fashioning our perception of the seascape, a natural force possibly submerging man, an aquatic milieu where the fauna thrives despite the threats of the Anthropocene, a route of migration and the repository of many shameful episodes of history. The presentation of works by John Akomfrah, Ayesha Hameed, Marianne Keating and Ailbhe Ní Bhrian by Valérie Morisson (Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté) will be followed by a round table with the two Irish artists.

Valérie Morisson is Lecturer in English Studies at the Université de Bourgogne Franche Comté. She graduated in English and Art History and studies Irish and British contemporary art. She investigates how political, social, and cultural evolutions in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are reflected in visual culture (painting, sculpture, installation, performance, video, photography).

Morisson’s articles focus on a wide range of subjects ranging from feminist art, the issue of memory and the commemoration of history, to post-nationalist revisionism and the Northern-Irish situation as reflected in art. Several of her articles tackle photography and performance art in both an Irish and a European perspective. Her recent research addresses wider artistic issues in both the Irish and the English domains such as the role of archives and field work in the creation process and the links between art and anthropology.

The four video installations discussed in this presentation revolve around the multiple and fragmented stories conveyed by the undercurrents of the sea. In Vertigo Sea by John Akomfrah, Black Atlantis by Ayesha Hameed, The Ocean Between by Marianne Keating and Inscriptions of an Immense Theatre by Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, the sea is the repository of colonial history. The domination of subaltern people and that of natural resources or environments are enmeshed so that common patterns of exploitation emerge. The sea of stories channels forms of decenteredness which translate into the artistic apparatus. The four works dialogically juxtapose fragments of sounds, texts and images belonging to multiple semiotic regimes and collected in different places at different times. They invite the viewers to adopt diverging viewpoints and to reconstruct a common, overarching history where the oceans play a central role. The relations that are woven across time and space are profoundly dialogical as polyphony prevails. The assemblages, undergirded by the artists’ commitment to a re-politicization of ecology, map out the contours of an archipelagic aesthetic. In the four video installations the sea is what holds the fragments together in a postcolonial constellation. It features as a natural force, a deterritorializing current, a poetic motif and a space where human flows are submitted to deeply-entrenched power relations. The sea holds the archives of human history but its force swells far beyond, muffling the moans of those buried in its underwater folds.

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain is an Irish artist known for her use of film, computer generated imagery and photography. The work has been exhibited widely both nationally and internationally and has increasingly involved collaboration with musicians and composers, with screenings and installations incorporating re-corded sound, live performance and improvisation. 

Using collage and computer–generated imagery (CGI), she transforms familiar images and locations into worlds of dream–like theatricality, drawing the viewer into an altered experience of time and place. She holds a PhD by practice in Fine Art, Kingston University, UK (2008) and she is a lecturer in fine art at Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork, Ireland. Recent exhibitions include: Artists’ Film International, Whitechapel Gallery, London and Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, 2020 (travelling); Inscriptions IV, domobaal Gallery, London, 2020; and Great Good Places, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, 2019.

Marianne Keating is an artist and researcher, based in Ireland and London. She graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art, London, a BA from Limerick School of Art and Design, Ireland and a practice-based PhD in Visual & Material Culture and Contemporary Art Practice, funded by KSA at Kingston University, London and a TECHNE Associate.

She was recently shortlisted to represent Ireland in the 2022 Venice Biennial and has exhibited extensively throughout Ireland and internationally. Recent exhibitions include: Black Tower Projects, London (2020); the Crawford Art Gallery, Ireland (2019); RAMPA, Portugal (2019); Stanley Picker Gallery, London (2019); South London Gallery, London (2019); Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Barbados (2018).