Secret Residency

Reportedly an anonymous and renegade group of international artists staged a temporary secret residency in a ghost estate in Leitrim sometime in early 2006. Their action appears to have been organized in response to the coming global property crash of that year and was something of a think-tank that focused on the crisis in general. One of the topics discussed was the certainty that Ireland would have to be bailed out at some point along with many other countries, 5 years before even the possibility was on anyone else’s radar. Many of the tactics and responses to the crisis since used by the international art community are said to have first emerged at this get together. For a longtime the group have been making it their business to keep well ahead of the cultural curve to set the agenda for art on the world stage. I did manage to contact one of its members through Isabel Lofgren (who I am beginning to think is in league with them or even took part in the residency herself). Through her I learned they are using the medium of curator’s statements, subtle lobbying of art industry figures, critical writing etc to progress this agenda. If my suspicions about her are true, she would not legitimately return for a full 6 years under the auspices of the long running Trade residency (run by Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils) to plant certain seeds that could have been incubated by the group. She may even have cleverly engineered me into bringing her to the same ghost estate (The Waterways, Keshkerrigan) they had used and suggested their ideas to me as if they were our own, the results of which you read before you.

Which makes me wonder about the tree planting protest (NAMA to Nature) that occurred on this same estate in early 2012. Perhaps even this had a similar genesis and may have been ‘suggested’ to someone in that group. Also in late 2006 an anonymous and mysterious sculpture, celebrating the salmon of knowledge myth, was suddenly erected on a natural rock outcrop close to The Waterways on the edge of Keshkerrigan village. At the time it was assumed by the residents to have been approved by the council but when I looked into it I found this was not the case. It does look the part and with so many new pieces of public art being erected during the economic boom I can see why it did not arouse suspicion at the time and still stands to this day. Significantly or not, Fionn’s salmon is hidden at the rear of the statue. One of the ideas behind A Guide to Here Nor There itself is to revisit certain Irish myths and legends.

Regardless, through Isabel I was sent a single image with text which purports to have been made while the group was here. They also said that while here they discovered something unique about our situation which we are not yet prepared to comprehend. (Stephen Rennicks)


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