Space Beyond Disciplines
III. Landscapes, Borders, Sites -131
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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