• Eile Project: Art and Spatial Research UK/Irish Border (2016 – ongoing)

      McCloskey, Paula; Vardy, Sam; University of Derby, Sheffield Hallam University (2016-07)
      ‘Eile’ (2016-ongoing) is a project by a place of their own (artist duo Dr Paula McCloskey and Dr Sam Vardy. http://hdl.handle.net/10545/623443), that investigates the UK/Irish border and its complex entanglements of colonialism, border-imperialism and geopolitics. The project develops, and enacts, the situated concept/method ‘border-fictioning’ as a resistant practice to colonial nation-state borders, through site-responsive performances on the border, and digital audio-visual films and texts. The research asks how an art and spatial practice on the UK/Irish border can develop the concept and method of border-fictioning, and how it reveals alternative histories, contemporary experiences, and anti-colonial imaginaries that are resistant to nation-state borders. The research is situated in border research (e.g: Anzaldúa, 1987, Walia, 2014) and in literature that explores ‘fictioning’ as an art-practice method (e.g. Burrows and O’Sullivan, 2019; O’Sullivan, 2017; Shaw and Reeves-Evison, 2017); as well as drawing on personal experience of the UK/Irish border. ‘Eile’ involves McCloskey and Vardy conducting a series of experiments along the border, each incorporating elements of site-responsive performance and installation, mapping, walking, and the production of images and audio-visual artworks. The site-responsive performances are experimental, working to create encounters with a fictional character ‘Eile’ (meaning ‘other’ in Irish), who touches, walks, lies, makes structures, sings or keeps vigil at the border sites; the performances are recorded and edited into short films. Border-fictioning is postulated as an original form of study, articulating new methods of analysis, and artistic, geopolitical and philosophical conceptualisations of borders. It contributes to research and practice that resist the nation-state border and position the border-as-fiction, making a significant contribution to the potential of border-fictioning as method. The work contributes to art and geopolitics research, border studies, urbanism/architecture studies, performance studies, and Irish studies. The research has produced two short films (The Territories of Eile, 2018, EILE/LOBSTEREile/Lobster, 2019) 2 peer-reviewed articles , and has featured in exhibitions in the UK and international screenings (UK/Ireland/US), 5 conference papers, and an interview with the curatorial research platform Performing Borders, 2019 see https://performingborders.live/interviews/a-place-of-their-own-march-2019/). Alessandra Cianetti co-founder and curator of Performing Borders states: ‘Paula McCloskey’s long-term engagement with the Irish border is a fundamental, intergenerational, experimental approach to change. The work played an important role in transforming ideas about how borders can be explored and reimagined to create a communal future in these times of division. The project communicated connections, created awareness and a greater understanding among participants by instigating a much-needed artistic dialogue around nation state borders. Getting people to think deeper and differently about human interactions and the landscape and bringing people together from diverging backgrounds.’ Alessandra Cianetti, 2020.