ALL THE FLESH OF HIS BODY (2013)
Archival pigment prints; sound compositions
To view full-sized images of pigment prints, click thumbnails below.
This body of work, including photography and sound, investigates language and the body as sites of slippage, transformation, fragility and power. Incubated during an extensive stay on the remote Gaeltacht (Gaelic-speaking) coast of southwest County Kerry, Ireland, the work probes the nature of the body; language's rootedness in place, body, and culture; and the impact of that language’s loss. The first century pre-Christian epic Táin Bó Cúailgne and St. Patrick's fifth century Confessio provide an aural, linguistic and literary framework for considering the negotiations between competing worldviews.
Listen to All the Flesh of His Body:
All the Flesh of His Body brings into counterpoint Irish recitation of passages from St. Patrick’s 5th century Confessio with Irish and English passages from the first century pre-Christian Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailgne that describe the "warp spasms" that transform and mutate the body of warrior-hero Cu Chulainn as he prepares to enter battle to steal the stud bull Donn Cúailgne. These recitations are woven in and out of field recordings of boars, bears, whales, birds, elk, alligators and bats, and underlaid by Arvo Part’s Magnificat. This fluid mixing, and ultimate overtaking of the human by the animal, is emblematic of an Irish sensibility evolved in an archipelagic environment where sea, land and air ceaselessly arise and fall within the mist, merging and dissipating, continuously intermingling.
The track makes use of recitation from St. Patrick’s Confessio (translated by Mac Philibin) in Irish by John Barry; recitation from the Táin Bó Cúailgne in both English (translations by Cecile O’Rahilly and Joseph Dunn) and Irish (translation by Ciara Nic Oscair) by Ciara Nic Oscair; field recordings of boars; field recordings from the Macaulay Library/Cornell of polar bear environment, humpback whale, right whale, the Palmyra Atoll, albatross, and American bittern; field recordings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of elk, alligator, and bats; Arvo Part’s Magnificat performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tonu Kaljuste conducting (ECM Records).
Listen to Kelson:
The body of the Táin’s warrior-hero Cu Chulainn, which underwent “warp-spasms” before entering battle to steal the stud bull Donn Cúailgne, is emblematic of the pre-Christian Irish sensibility. Evolved in an archipelagic environment where sea, land and air ceaselessly arise and fall within the mist, merging and dissipating, continuously intermingling, this epistemology is grounded in an experience of porous boundaries and the continual transformation of matter.
Photographic work is from a photo-video project in which I likewise deconstruct bodily boundaries, forefronting the seamlessness between material realities and the continual flux of form and matter. Scenes of a man encased by, struggling with, and romancing the skin of another animal are filmed and then projected onto sculptural forms molded from rawhide (created by sculptor Rosalyn Driscoll). These projected images are then photographed. This continual transformation and the layering of permutations of flesh on flesh through flesh – dead and alive, flayed and intact – builds a world located somewhere between hallucinatory dream, piercing vision, and presumed reality. The work's shape-shifting insists on the closeness of the mystery ever-present behind the veil of physicality.
2013 Sarah Doyle Gallery. Brown University, Providence, RI