The Land That… is a video and mixed-media project by Frances Hegarty & Andrew Stones, based on their collaborative engagement with a ten-acre plot of land in Co. Donegal.
Ongoing for over five years, the work considers this land from the artists’ combined personal perspectives, and as a miniature territory in a discussion about “Land/s” in a wider anthropological, cultural and political sense.
For the work, the artists have made video and audio recordings of actions and interventions devised to test the Donegal plot in various ways. Several are based on transits made on foot across the land; some involve primitive tools and items of laboratory and consumer technology, suggestive of a quasi-scientific inquiry.
Some of Hegarty’s actions refer to the fact that the land, and the house at its edge, are where she passed her childhood. However, the house is never seen in the work. Instead, the artists concentrate on the land as a terrain in which remaining signs of human usage are gradually being erased by plants, animals and weather, running counter to the dominant trends of an ‘anthropocene’ era.
At the MAC, The Land That… takes the form of an immersive, single screen projection in the Upper Gallery, and a suite of smaller, interlinked installations in the Tall Gallery. The large projection has the semi-narrative structure of a short film, with powerful, surround-sound audio. Many features of the film recur in alternative form in the smaller installations, where video sequences are shown alongside materials and objects from the Donegal site.
Among the works in the Tall Gallery is a seven-metre long printout bearing alternative endings to the phrase begun in the project title. Other “conclusions” are proposed in the way the Donegal plot is framed, probed and addressed throughout the work. This multiplicity of responses hints at the difficulty of defining any “Land” today, given the congestion of facts, narratives, and agendas vying for attention.
Frances Hegarty & Andrew Stones began their collaborative practice in 1997 with For Dublin (the first Nissan Art Project). Since then they have made predominantly site-specific works in Sheffield, Birmingham, Belfast, Carlow, and Kilkenny, whilst also pursuing individual practices.