Image: Self Portrait, Sarah Cecilia Harrison, Hugh Lane Gallery collection, (1889)
The starting point for this artist take-over is the self-portrait by artist Sarah Cecllia Harrison (1863-1942) held in collections at the Hugh Lane Gallery. I became interested in Sarah Harrison because of her ‘activist’ work with Dublin Corporation and in particular her campaign for the establishment of allotments in Dublin in 1909. The movement really took-off in 1915 due to food shortages because of the war, which drove people to grow their own food out of sheer desperation. Crossing political and religious divides, by 1919 440 acres were under cultivation.
Care and cultivation is the backbone to my practice and with that comes an interest in the politics of land use and the complex environmental issues that we currently face through climate change and how artists and activists respond to these scaled issues. In particular, if we think about the evolution of land practices and the control, use and ownership of land - we can then perhaps consider how agricultural practice – gardening being one of many extended processes in the overall agriculture machine - has directed human evolution.
Image: “Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart: The ZAD”, 36 min., 4K, AT/DE 2017
‘Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart’, A 6-channel video installation by Oliver Ressler 2016-2020.
The story of ‘La Zad’ in western France began more than half a century ago, when the French government earmarked the site for a new airport as part of a plan to create a transatlantic “Great West” gateway to France and Europe. The squatters began arriving the same year, claiming they were responding to an appeal from farmers fighting compulsory purchase orders. No airport-related construction has since taken place on the 1,650-hectare site. The artist Oliver Ressler, through a series of recorded conversations with key members from the ZAD community, documents the people involved with this campaign, charting their struggles and the collective process of self-organization through which they resisted the force of the French government to establish a community of cultivators.
WILD WEEDS – GARDENS OF RESISTANCE