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Crossing Borders

Space Beyond Disciplines

Kathleen James-Chakraborty and Sabine Strümper-Krobb

The early twenty-first century is witnessing a paradigm shift across the humanities away from an obsession with language and towards an engagement with the way in which physical space is imagined. This book showcases the impact of that shift upon the work of diverse disciplines. Applying insights from architecture and geography, which have long addressed space, to disciplines that have traditionally focused upon images and language, the contributors demonstrate how integral space is to literary as well as artistic imagining and identity at the same time that they propose novel ways of capturing and documenting spatial experience. The thirteen contributors to the book, most of whom live and work in Ireland and are associated with a range of different disciplines in Irish universities, show how the construction and representation of space, both real and imagined, contributes to the exploration of contemporary concerns such as identity, belonging and memory. The result is a snapshot of the ways in which contemporary Irish academia is addressing one of the most important new directions in interdisciplinary research.

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III. Landscapes, Borders, Sites -131

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III. Landscapes, Borders, Sites Gary A. Boyd Bog Standard: Modernity in the Space of an Irish Wasteland In the year 2000, Ireland’s entry into the Venice International Biennale of Architecture, was N3, a small pavilion made from 1676 standard-issue, polypropylene-strapped, Bord na Mona bales of peat briquettes. At the end of the Biennale, the briquettes were soaked, decompressed and crumpled to make fertilizer for a Venetian public park. As was noted at the time, this newest addition to the land mass of the Venetian archipelago was also by some degree its oldest: the stuf f that made the briquettes was formed over three thousand years ago. The piece, by the architect Tomás de Paor, evokes some of the paradoxes of a peat briquette, a svelte, precise, hard, modern, machined form whose origins in the Irish bog are soft, sodden, largely amorphous and ancient. A generation earlier, the German artist Joseph Beuys, had also explored these temporal and material dialogues. Irish Ener- gies (1972) is a soft pliable filling of Kerrygold butter sandwiched between the hard but fissured forms of two briquettes. Here, Beuys’ enthusiasm for the overlooked – the literal and metaphorical f lotsam and jetsam of every- day life – settles upon and memorializes an object whose useful existence, thousands of years in the making, is emphatically ephemeral. Both these pieces of work represent the remaking of the most ordinary and Irish of Irish objects – taking it from its ubiquity in garage forecourts, hardware stores and domestic hearths – into a...

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