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water broadcasting secret stations


Artists - Marilyn Lennon, Colette Lewis and Elinor Rivers

Performative action, Skibbereen Arts Festival, 2019

Water Broadcasting Secret Stations was a water divining and mapping performative action with the Dwelling Agents, devised as a public intervention and participation event in The Fairfield, Skibbereen, Co Cork. Participation in the performative action was made through an open call as part of the Skibbereen Arts Festival in 2019. This work was developed after working with water diviners in West Cork and adapted from the vernacular and folk practices of water divining, traditionally used as a practical tool for locating a water source for a dwelling place. A diviner detects and locates the flow of underground water using divining rods, which move involuntarily and act as an antenna for the body’s response to sensing the flow of underground water. In Seamus Heaney’s words, this speculative act brings uncontrollable electric signals, ‘water suddenly broadcasting through a green aerial its secret station’

This artwork aligns with critical thinking that examines how engagement with supernatural beliefs or re-enchantment enables urban dwellers to navigate and understand their towns and cities.

The event explored the intelligence and sensitivities inherent in the body by focusing on the body as an antenna, tuning into the earth’s invisible forces through divining and experimental mark making. Facilitated by the Dwelling Agents, participants learned to use metal divining rods, hazel rods and pendulums to locate underground water in a three hundred year old public market space. Findings were initially mapped through mark making using chalk and charcoal directly onto the ground and afterwards translated on to a large scale drawing on paper titled the ‘Fairfield Divining Map’. In this work, marginal embodied ways of experiencing the world re-emerged to open up playful and curious entry points to fuel the imaginary.

Window Display: Water Broadcasting Secret Stations Ephemera including the Fairfield Divining Map, Dwelling Agents workwear and performative objects and tools were displayed as shop window dressing in two vacant commercial units in Skibbereen and Cork city. Here, the project used another strategy of subversion, playing on the tropes of shop window display. We exhibited performative objects in a state of suspended utility, where they became objects to be looked at. However as performative objects, imbued with an aura of the magical power of water divination, through our public and participatory performances, the viewer was given the opportunity to imagine themselves as the performer of the power that the objects afford.

Water Broadcasting Secret Stations

Window Display Locations

27 Bridge Street, Skibbereen, Co. Cork, Skibbereen Arts Festival 2019

Hear - Podcast link - Interview with Luke Clancy for RTE Lyric FM’s Culture File

SPARE ROOM Art Architecture Activism, TSB Building, North Main Street,, Cork city, 2019. Curated by Eve Olney and Kate O’Shea, the exhibition theme was framed within the rationale of critiquing institutional complicity within different forms of precarious living conditions.