The Conversation is Open – Michele O’Connor Connolly March 2020

Residency & Exhibition

West Cork-based artist Michele O’Connor Connolly (BAVA, MA Art & Process, and MA Arts & Humanities) was in WAS for a 10-week residency starting out with an exhibition of work, The Conversation is Open, opening at 6pm Friday 13th March 2020. The exhibition ran until 11th April.

Seaweed Dye organic Print Landscape 1 – Michelle O’Connor Connolly

As part of the Cross-Species Kinship  project Michele and fellow artist and collaborator Janice McEwen have been investigating through the lens of the kelp forest our responsibilities as humans towards other species.

Michele has been considering the materiality of the Kelp Forest through experimentation with Kelp and other seaweeds from the intertidal zone, principles of ‘cross-species kinship’ treating other species as ‘kin’ and what does it mean? Recognising the interconnected web of life and our place as part of this. Understanding, treating with respect and not exploiting but protecting the sustainability of this living web and the damage was done by destroying any part of it.

With a focus on the kelp, one of the first living and longest surviving species, the work explores the importance to other species, including ours, and its future, to share ideas and opinions about changing our relationship with this and other species, its sustainability in the changing and challenging climatic and economic environment of the Anthropocene.

A deep knowing of one threatened species (the kelp/algae have survived for millions of years) can change our attitudes to and relationships with all (feelings about?) species. We no longer have a ‘human privileged’ view of life.

In response to the Anthropocene and what environmentalist Edward O Wilson calls the ‘Age of Loneliness,’ and disconnection from other species and their fate, anthropologist Deborah Bird Rose, writes about cross species kinship and asks “Is such a kinship a foundational condition of human life?”

She raises an idea of ecological existentialism around the end of certainty and the importance of conversations in an age of connectivity and uncertainty and the end of atomism, a shift to uncertainty and connectivity. It becomes possible to have conversations with people whose histories are completely different but whose worldviews work with uncertainty and connectivity. This is a moment for new conversations and new synergies. Stories encounter each other and become entangled. Stick in unexpected places and spark up new thoughts.

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