THE BOOK OF LAYERS: ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MINERAL
Each panel, 18" x 41", 6 panels total. Archival inkjet prints of 2012 photos by Bliss; text from Bliss' journal entries; archival inkjet prints of 1927 photos by ethnomusicologist Ole Mork Sandvik bagged with found artifacts; composed sound from field recordings and interviews with residents of Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, Ireland. 2012.
View individual chapters "chapters" and listen to audio by clicking thumbnails. Scroll down for project description.
What makes up a place, and how can we come to know it? What is worth preserving? Who gets to decide?
This installation of sound/photo/text/artifact explores placemaking from the perspective of both an outsider, and from that of a place’s inhabitants. It queries the role of the artist-researcher in selecting, cataloguing, recording, archiving, communicating, and thereby defining a place. It juxtaposes two very different collections gathered 85 years apart from the same location (Cill Rialaig, County Kerry, Ireland): Norwegian ethnomusicologist Ole Mork Sandvik’s 1927 photographs, and artist Sarah Bliss’ 2012 artifacts and audio recordings.
Sandvik was part of the early wave of researchers who insisted on the necessity of studying, collecting and preserving folk music, traditions and cultures. His photos, now in the collection of the National Library of Norway, were made during a period of music collection in Cill Rialaig. By documenting the people of Ballinskelligs at home and at work, they offer keen insight into patterns of land use, architecture, dress, and social and family culture.
The collection of Sandvik’s reproduced images are paired with and counterpoised by portions of two collections gathered in and near Cill Rialaig by Bliss during a monthlong period of research and art production in Cill Rialaig in 2012: one of audio, and one of flora, fauna, and constructed artifacts of human labor on the land.
Together, these layers of material speak to the profound connection of a people to place, topography and land; and the intimate relationship between humans, non-human animals, flora, and the compounded mix of animal/vegetable/mineral that we call soil. At the same time, they highlight the desire to extend beyond the present the experience of uniqueness in a given place, while interrogating the power differentials that facilitate the process of documentation and dissemination.
2012 Invested Landscape. Nave Gallery, Somerville, MA