Sarah Browne: Buttercup | Visual Arts | Sirius Arts Centre Cobh

Sarah Browne: Buttercup Sarah Browne: Buttercup

Sarah Browne: Buttercup

13th Apr - 8th Jun

Sarah Browne

The artist Sarah Browne examines spoken and unspoken bodily experiences of
knowledge, labour and justice. She engages with alternative and suppressed practices and
narratives associated with marginalized personhoods, acting in solidarity with people
excluded from or undermined by mainstream normative and value systems, whether
legal, scientific or political.

Browne’s practice involves film, publishing and performance, and her works are
presented in both institutional contexts and the public realm. She often works with people
of formal and informal expertise (children, lawyers, poets) to establish a new community
of knowledge or concern through art.

The exhibition Buttercup features a newly created film of the same title, realized in
collaboration with David Donohoe, Helena Gouveia Monteiro, Elaine Lillian Joseph,
Daniel Hughes and disabled consultants. The film is presented on two screens through a
looped sequence alternating between captioned and audio-described versions, developed
in dialogue with Joseph and Hughes. These differing sensory translations are accessible
for all visitors.

The film consists of a voice-over attempting to describe and comprehend a childhood
photograph, framed as a traditional family portrait. This photograph, which recurs
throughout, depicts a girl wearing a Communion dress with her father and her pet cow,
the eponymous Buttercup, at a farm. Other imagery takes in views of cattle and pasture at
the site of the photograph, suggesting a rural scene, either bucolic or extractivist.

The film evolves through a narration in the style of a memoir, responding to the
institutions of family and property implied by the photograph. The narrator approaches
the photograph repeatedly, and through her ongoing rumination, unfolds entangled
relationships of human and animal, agriculture and art making, mothering and
domestication, care and violence. The farm can be viewed as a place of learning about
society at large that involves implicit hierarchies, from gendered forms of labour to
interactions with disability and the allocation of autonomy or freedom.

The footage includes still and slow-moving images, and was shot in 16mm and
produced through cameraless animation on celluloid by Gouveia Monteiro and Browne.

The score is produced by Donohoe, and combines field recordings from the farm with
experimental drone and brass chords, generating alternating physical sensations of
warmth and unease, and thus communicating in ways the narrator struggles to voice.

The exhibition also features a sculptural piece, Safelight, which functions in the gallery as
a darkroom light, and suggests both a heating lamp for newborn animals and a Sacred
Heart, that last a domestic artefact of devotion in the Catholic tradition. Tucked discreetly
behind it are a cattle ID tag and a Saint Brigid’s cross, used to protect animals in
cowsheds. Thus, the sculpture syncretizes state/bureaucratic procedures of agriculture
with animism, and attends to experiences of danger, perception and exposure.

Browne uses ‘parallel play’ as a neurodivergent method of collaboration, while refusing
any pathological judgment devaluing such engagement. As part of this approach, she has
invited writer Sarah Hayden to respond to Buttercup. Hayden’s contribution, as if […]
wearing anklesocks, forms a distinct text that is interdependent with the film, intended to
be heard in the air or read on the page, and is presented as a performance accompanying
the exhibition.

EVENT – Sarah Hayden: as if […] wearing anklesocks

Sarah Hayden’s text as if […] wearing anklesocks is a long-form poem, responding to the film Buttercup, by Sarah Browne, invited by the artist. Hayden reads the text and engages in a conversation with Browne that explores what it means to invite a response, the purpose of art writing and the lines between essays and poems.

Saturday, 27 April
3pm: screening of Buttercup, captioned
3:30pm: reading by Sarah Hayden, captioned
4-5pm conversation, live-captioned
Free; no booking required

The printed version of as if […] wearing anklesocks is designed by Rose Nordin. It is available following the event and is also accessible online as a PDF and audio recording. The production of this work is supported by Kunstverein Aughrim.