Aisteach, Historical Documents of the Irish Avant-Garde: Jennifer Walshe

Apr 21, 2018, 10:23 AM

Associate Artist Jennifer Walshe presents her project Aisteach, the fictional Avant-Garde Archive of Ireland. Recorded during the 2018 edition of Sonic Acts Academy, Amsterdam where Walche was performing and screening the film An Gléacht alongside Mario de Vega.

Historical Documents of the Irish Avant-Garde is a fictional history of the musical avant-garde in Ireland which spans 187 years, and is housed at aisteach.org, the website of the Aisteach Foundation, a fictional organisation which purports to be ”The Avant-Garde Archive of Ireland.” For the project, Walshe engaged a huge team of collaborators and created compositions, recordings, scores, articles and ephemera.

An Gléacht Outsider artist Caoimhín Breathnach (1934–2009) lived as a recluse in the Irish village of Knockvicar for all of his life. Breathnach’s artistic practice focussed on the creation of ‘subliminal’ tapes and films, which he believed possessed the capacity to shift consciousness. In these works, Ogham magickal scales, crystallography, astronomy, folklore, and natural phenomena are combined with found audio and visual material to produce an idiosyncratic and esoteric system of correspondences. Breathnach spent the last years of his life planning a film called An Gléacht. The work was to combine subliminal tapes and films with filmed footage showing a sequence of occult rituals at sites in Ireland ranging from the Hellmouth door in the Caves of Kesh to the Tobernalt holy well. In 2015, the Cork Film Festival commissioned Jennifer Walshe – Breathnach’s great-niece – to complete An Gléacht. The film has been shown worldwide with live musical accompaniment from musicians, including Okkyung Lee, David Grubbs, Toshimaru Nakamura, Martin Taxt, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Chris Heenan, Tomomi Adachi and more.