Michael John Whelan
Video Installation
Paper & Sound
Echoes of evaporation
and submergence

And they did live by watchfires
Darkness had no need
These last breaths
The time of cruel wonders
was not yet over

In the black dark for good
That we were to wait
Like force and matter
20 Vertices, 30 Edges
and 160 Diagonals

Transit of Venus
Over the echoing gateway
Archway (diptych)
Echoes of evaporation and submergence
2023-ongoing, gelatin silver print
frame treated with seawater
50 x 40cm
(1/6) Next

This geographically ambitious project navigates different locations on and under the seas surrounding Ireland investigating controversial and traumatising events from Irish history. Through in-depth research into personal testimonies, a series of locations are photographed using a large format camera and printed traditionally onto silver gelatin paper. The testimonies are interpreted anew, disseminating the stories so intrinsically connected to the Irish landscape. Subjects include: areas of exceptionally high radioactivity making the Irish Sea the most radioactive sea in the world; former pre-repeal abortion routes to the U.K.; the sinking site of the RMS Lusitania resulting in 1,198 deaths.

After each photograph is taken, a sample of sea water is collected from the location, which is repeatedly brushed into the Irish oak frame, permanently permeating the wood with salt crystals. The framed photographs are installed touching each other, allowing the molecular dynamic of the salt crystals to connect and move between the different woods - the different locations. The salt acts as an organic factor of commonality, bonding these otherwise disparate locations in a shared trauma and offers the potential for healing.