Ciara Rodgers: Green Mouth
10 June, 5 - 6pm
The artist Ciara Rodgers makes drawings, photographs, installations, and performances reflecting on her experiences of the built environment. The work is often site-specific and informed by her embodied research into architecture and territory. Regarding drawing, Rodgers often uses charcoal to capture her gestures—a direct experience of her physical and psychological state in space. The performative nature of the making process fluidly documents her body’s movements and lends itself to an audience engagement.
Rodgers’s commissioned, newly-created Green Mouth performance responds to both the building that SIRIUS is housed in and narratives around the late artist Brian O’Doherty. SIRIUS occupies the former clubhouse of the Royal Cork Yacht Club and O’Doherty created the mural One, Here, Now while he was an artist in residence there in 1996. The building, constructed in 1855, was the initiative of the Anglo-Irish elite, and O’Doherty’s work was a gesture toward reclaiming it from that association.
Rodgers engages with the lingering presences that continue to permeate our encounters with the SIRIUS building and O’Doherty’s legacy. As a young boy, O’Doherty’s elderly aunt recounted to him how, in her youth, she had seen people with green mouths, pigmented from eating grass during the Great Famine (1845–52), a catastrophic result of the British Empire’s stranglehold. Prompted by this intense imagery, Green Mouth is an interrogation into the psychological ‘staining’ of such events on both our environment
and our psyches.
Green Mouth has two distinct sections. In the first section, developed over the period of a week, we see Rodgers creating charcoal rubbings on canvas directly from the building. This phase is a recording of the artist’s research on the site’s material infrastructure. In the second section, Rodgers turns the canvas of charcoal rubbings into a traditional Irish cloak and dons it, thereby literally embodying the building by transforming its features into a garment. She then grinds down grass with a mortar and pestle and consumes it while staring out to sea.
Green Mouth considers the societal inequalities symbolised by the building’s complex heritage. It also provides an interesting commentary on the female body. The cloak is a recurring symbol in Irish folklore and references invisibility, goddesses, and the cailleach, the divine hag associated with the land. The performance, with its seaside setting, plays with the forlorn imagery of the Mother Ireland archetypical figures and powerfully examines certain previously unwelcome facets of society: women, farm labourers, and the natural world.