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Title of Project/Exhibition
'Lebensreform in Leitrim (and Other Stories)
The term Lebensreform (Life Reform) originated in Germany in the mid 1890s for attempts to renew the whole conduct of life, especially in the spheres of nutrition, clothing, dwelling and health. More particularly, you could notice movements…any kind of attitude against established constrictions of society…the Life Reform movements were certainly predecessors of today’s “escapist” constructions of identity, formed via lifestyle conceptions.
The work proposed for this residency is to investigate the contemporary legacy of recent migrations of people, particularly German, Dutch and Swiss people, to the north west of Ireland. These influences are aesthetic, environmental, and social/ political. Lebensreform in Leitrim (and Other Stories) is the title of this body of work-in-progress; the subtitle ‘and other stories’ emphasizes the interest in modes of documentary and fiction, and a caution and sensitivity towards the people who will inevitably become involved in the process of research and display. Primary influences for the work include the films and writings of Werner Herzog; Heinrich Böll’s Irisches Tagebuch [Irish Diary]; and a series of contemporary narrative models in literature, journalism, and ethnography/ anthropology. The primary outcomes of the project will be a publication and a film. These will likely be informed by other work made through the process, particularly drawings, objects and photoworks.
This residency is directed toward Strand b), Residencies to support artists to lead engagement with places / people /industry / groups / communities or landscapes in Leitrim. The main substance of this work will arise through intensive dialogue with people living in the area, particularly the migrations of people mentioned above but also through other extended networks such as alternative food cooperatives and economic models (eg. LETS – Local Exchange Trading Systems). The ‘community’ involved is a community of interest rather than a specific demographic as such.
Sarah Browne’s practice implicitly addresses ‘the economy’ as the dominant metaphor for contemporary social and political relations. She is concerned with the creation or documentation of intentional economies and temporary ‘communities’. These small-scale systems tend to form and be formed by forces of intention or desire, and are typically influenced by emotional affects. She often works on a domestic scale, using technologies such as upholstery, knitting, flower-pressing, carpet-knotting and filmmaking (super 8 and 16mm). Browne is interested in forms of non-market exchange such as gift economies, subsistence, subsidies and poaching. The work is often carried out with the participation of a ‘community’ where it is based, or creates a fictional or temporary ‘community’ for itself.