About Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty
Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty are collaborative artists living and working between Leitrim and Sligo. They use performance, video and text, informed by detailed site-specific research, to convey visions of transience and resistance. Within their practice there exists a dialogue between the romantic and the pragmatic that is enacted both within the work and throughout the collaborative process. Using their own bodies and immediate surroundings as a starting point, they engage with local environments, histories and communities, to open up spaces of renewed reflection.
Their current research considers the Irish Western Rail Corridor and US Transcontinental Railroad as lines of thought, along which ideas of western identity, binary political thinking, power and complicity, and ‘Wild West’ film history intersect. This work is focussed on popular visions of the ‘West’ as it is understood in Irish and American contexts. Representations of the Irish west are often contradictorily associated with escape and freedom, and with being trapped within a life of poverty and parochial rivalries. This imagined sense of frontier zone opportunity tinged with hardship and danger is commonly echoed in depictions of the American ‘Wild West’ of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This year, they have responded to the challenges of restricted travel by remotely developing new text, video and audio works, using imagined phone conversations and train journeys as devices for collapsing the distance between their respective homes.
Ruth and Niamh have worked together as artists, researchers and arts facilitators since 2010, taking part in over thirty exhibitions across Ireland as well as in Amsterdam, Berlin and the UK. They each hold a Masters degree in Visual Culture from the National College of Art & Design, Dublin and were among the first recipients of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Next Generation Award in 2016.
They are dedicated in their collaborative practice to making audio-visual, text and performative work concerned with power and complicity, ecology and loss. Their recent body of work is centred around Ireland’s complicated relationship with its colonial past. Relevant projects to this subject include: Echolocation as part of Cairde Sligo Arts Festival (2020); TunnelVision, made for the Douglas Hyde Gallery’s ‘Artist’s Eye’ series (2020); Standing Above Everything, idle days & minor battles, artists book supported by Trinity College Dublin (2018) and Time (Ireland) Act, solo/collaborative exhibition, Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh (2016). Ruth is based in Sligo Town where she works as a painter, videographer and musician. Niamh is based in Glenfarne Co. Leitrim she works as a arts facilitator and is a research and editorial assistant for Askeaton Contemporary Arts.
About Ruth and Niamh's Commission
As we face into a second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic, we are proposing to make the next episode of the work we began during the first lockdown which comprised a deconstructed TV pilot, made collaboratively from seperate homes, as pages of a script and an accompanying abstracted video. The Dock’s 2020 Visual Art Commission will enable us to conduct on-site research into the Sligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway (SL&NCR) as well as the Bord na Móna tracks around the boglands of Co. Longford. For this, we would undertake a pilgrimage-residency in order to create a new reflective video piece, an original soundtrack and an online catalogue focussing on the historic and political landscapes of the Irish midwest. We began this project in 2018 by following disused sections of the Western Rail Corridor, using the track to explore complex tensions between environmentalism versus economics; public versus private, and progress versus nostalgia. We are interested in how the defunct trainline can become a metaphor for binary thinking in these tug-of-war style debates, whilst itself existing almost outside of time and space.
“Our research is concerned with Ireland’s complicated relationship with its colonial past, and currently we are considering the Irish State’s management of our natural resources and social infrastructures. The Dock’s support will enable us to investigate historical and contemporary ideals of 'progress' in terms of promise and threat. Specifically we are examining Ireland’s late industrialisation, largely powered by this comprehensive harvesting of bogland. We understand the perceived inevitability of technological progress to have accelerated the loss of traditional, symbiotic relationships to the land. This commissioned work would bridge the geographical distance between our homes in Sligo and Leitrim, enabling us to collect and share site-specific research in novel ways; make an ambitious audio-visual response. “