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Famine Houses


West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, Cork, Ireland, November 2016

Pumpkin, Turnip, Toothpicks, Dead flies, Pictures and Stools

Since I started my residency in the West Cork Arts Centre, I kept finding dead flies on the floor throughout the whole building. Though some flies are alive when I find them, they always die a few days later. I tried to imagine their situation and how they feel. And what I thought was that they are trapped in the huge inorganic maze with no way out. They have been wandering around the arts centre with no food source and dying of starvation. In my head, their situation overlapped with the local historical issue of the Great Famine. Before dying, many of the flies arrive at the landing at the top of the staircase on the 5th floor, just beside the administration office.

My residency took place during the Irish festival of Samhain, otherwise known as Halloween. I decided to sculpt two houses, using a pumpkin for one and a turnip for the other. Traditionally Irish people use turnips to make lanterns. I then installed the houses for both alive and dead flies on the staircase. For the living flies, the houses function as a source of food to be eaten for survival. Over the course of my residency, the pumpkin house began to melt and collapsing with mold, and the turnip house began to dry out and shriveling up, both of them kept changing form beautifully day by day. The houses have transformed like the old ruins of Famine houses as seen all around the Skibberren area.


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