A Short Walk Home and a Miss-Truth is Revealed

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Gallery of Photography, Dublin, 28-06-2011

Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be carved                   Immanuel Kant

As part of the second PhotoIreland Festival the Gallery of Photography is hosting a group show The Long View that will exhibit the work of Anthony Haughey, Jackie Nickerson, Richard Mosse, Paul Seawright, Donovan Wylie and my good self. It will be the first showing of works from Small Acts of Memory, the title that has attached itself to the body of photographs made at the resumed search at Coghalstown Wood Wilkinstown, which has been extensively documented in this blog since September 2009. The show came together quite quickly so my decisions on print sizes and framing were made intuitively. One aspect I needed to establish was a distanced connection to Innocent Landscapes hence the white border and glass but with a dark wooden frame as a nod to the previous work.  The prints finally arrived from the framer into the gallery space this afternoon and the negotiation of real estate could begin. As I have printed the images myself there are as ever a few things I would adjust slightly on a second print run but the enabling power of digital technology cannot be dismissed lightly.

Having left the photographs to ferment against the gallery walls overnight I walked home reflecting on the long journey through this landscape that has been sifted for a memory that refuses to reveal itself and offer up the remains of Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee who were killed and ‘secretly buried’ in October 1972. The previous evening I had returned to this site, a desire to ground myself in the context of forthcoming gallery activity. All the recently planted saplings had been removed and the thin barrier between this series of fields and an adjacent one had been removed. Was the site being re-possessed by those who own it? As far as I am aware the search has not been formally shut down at this location and consequently it possesses a potent latency – six inches, six feet, sixty feet. How does one close the door on uncertainty and doubt? The desire for closure is ever present. Nature is never finished and the human heart demands peace and settlement.

Arriving home this evening I turned on the radio to hear ‘remains of disappeared located in graveyard’. Another truth has slowly seeped out, as it appears that the remains of Columba McVeigh have been located, not at Bragan, the site searched in 1999, 2000, 2003 and in 2007/2008 but secretly buried at a graveyard within an official plot in a small neighboring townland. This revelation is one of those double secrets of time. A revealed secret that was silenced and secreted again within the earth as these remains were discovered in 1980 when the plot was opened for a burial and like so many things in our recent history it was hushed away. Complicity and fear being the bedfellows that consigned a family to a thirty-six year vigil. A local priest passed on this information to the authorities 18 months ago but it was rejected as unlikely by the ICLVR as it didn’t tally with information from official contacts within the republican movement. As ever sometimes trust and truths are uneasy bedfellows.


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Innocent Landscapes, Bragan, 2000

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Innocent Landscapes Revisited Bragan June 2009