Tom Flanagan & Megs Morley
b. 1981 & 1981, Ireland
Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley’s collaborative work is an ongoing exploration of the language of cinema and its relationship to political power and collective memory. Often working from fragmentary and peripheral political histories and contexts, their work explores the space between images, memory, knowledge, and power. They are interested in interrogating received knowledge and understanding, exploring alternative narratives generated by social history, archives, testimonies, and myth. They take a multidisciplinary approach to developing their work, and in the past have collaborated with activists, playwrights, and actors – most recently with composer Jürgen Simpson and choreographer Fearghus Ó Conchúir, to provoke the relationship between the language of politics, performance, and cinema.
Within the shifting political and cultural landscape of 2016, A History of Stone, Origin and Myth (2016) is a non-narrative essay film that draws unlikely connections between the creation of monuments, the material of stone, and the creation of memory and power. Shaped within the turbulent transition from the colonial to the postcolonial, and from the national to post-national, the film explores the space between individual memory and national history through the lens of political monuments found throughout Ireland that relate to the Irish rebellion, the 1916 Easter Rising, and the foundation of the state.
Despite the mundane and often unnoticed appearance of these monuments within the contemporary landscape, the cultural contestations that these sculptural edifices represent do not end once they are created. These monuments exist as public representations of political power and cultural authority, providing visual allegories of the attempt to carve collective memory into certain histories, often through the forgetting or erasing of other histories. The monuments are often the site and focus of conflict, and are sometimes opposed with counter monuments, defaced, reappropriated, deposed, or destroyed.
This cinematic exploration of a selection of Irish political monuments focuses on figurative stone sculptures that represent the human body, questioning the inherent contradictions of the role of the body in the state’s machinations. Moving fluidly between analysis and speculation, the film cinematically weaves a complex relationship between these symbolic figurative representations, their material form, the processes of their making, and the wider ongoing processes of memory, history, and identity creation. These are pertinent issues that have come to light once more, as the nation marks the centenary of the Easter Rising.
Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley, currently based in Galway, both received a BA Fine Art Sculpture at the Limerick School of Art and Design, before completing Masters in Visual Arts Practices in Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology in 2008. Their collaborative work is shown in both film and gallery contexts. Most recently, they were commissioned by TG4 – the Irish language television channel – and the Arts Council of Ireland to create the short film Allagóirí Chumhachta (Allegories of Power) for national broadcast in 2016.
They have recently particpated in exhibitions, including: Irish Art Does Not Exist (2014), Station Independent Projects, New York; Agitationism (2014), EVA International, Ireland; Building on Ruins (2013), Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles; Lucca Experimental Film Festival (2013), Tuscany, Italy; Labour and Lockout (2013), Limerick City Gallery of Art; Momentous Times (2013), CCA Derry~Londonderry; Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival (2013), Kells, Meath, Ireland; Peaks of Present, Sheets of Past (2013), Mermaid Arts Centre; Rencontres Internationales (2011), Centre du Pompidou, Paris, and Berlin (2012); A Series of Navigations (2012), The Model, Sligo; Post-Fordlândia (2012), The Good Children Gallery, New Orleans; Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival (2012), Hawick, Scotland; Post-Fordlândia (2011), Galway Arts Centre. Public commissions include Aughty (2012), a feature-length film commissioned by Aughty Public Art Projects and Galway County Council.
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