16th December 2006 – 20th January 2007
Miriam de Burca is currently completing a practice based PhD at University of Ulster. Recent projects include: The Golden Mile, Belfast 2003; Veneer/Folheado, Galeria Zedosbois, Lisbon, Portugal 2003; BE+FAST, Ljubljana, Slovenia 2004; The Belfast Way, Herzilya Museum of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 2005; Perspective, Ormeau Baths, Belfast 2005; Dogs Have No Religion, Artists From Northern Ireland at Czech Museum of Fine Arts, 2006.
Weeds have grown from soil recently fertilised by the ashes of an 11th Night bonfire. The wasteland’s annual cycle of construction and subsequent destruction has entered into its interval phase; the return of the small organisms. Benefiting from the minerals left by the fire, they begin to re-inhabit the area, slowly building up a temporary landscape.
A contradiction in terms, it would seem, ‘stealing weeds’. How can it be stealing if they are only weeds? And, if they are considered to be of no worth, why would one feel the need to go to such lengths? After all, they grow abundantly and thrive wherever the ground offers the minimum requirements for light, nutrition and drainage. They are considered a nuisance; they spring up where they are not wanted. Yet here they are being specially selected, uprooted, and taken away. Should anyone have objected to it?
Is it not a form of colonisation when one aggressively tears at the ground and takes elements of it away for scrutiny?
More important than the question whether digging up the plants is theft or not, is the fact that it feels like theft. The physical act of crossing through the implicit threshold and into the centre of the interface gives the sensation of making an imposition. There is a psychological heat still emanating from the ashen ground that causes one to hurry, to step and dig and leave quickly. (‘Careful or you’ll burn the soles of your feet.’)
Ultimately, there is no feeling of victory, no conquest made. Rather than gaining a sense of ownership over that proximate piece of land, the psychological boundary between ‘here and there’ remains as intact as before, the experience leaving only a slight feeling of guilt; that the weeds had been taken from someone else’s land; de facto stolen.
Miriam de Búrca
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