Galway Arts Centre,
13 – 22 August 2015
Martin Healy works primarily in the mediums of film and photography. His work explores the manner in which the alternate histories and speculative futures described in early science fiction may be seen to prefigure current environmental crisis.
Terrain, Healy’s first solo exhibition in Galway, is centred around a new film Harvest, shot in the National Botanic Gardens and accompanied by a series of photographs from the same location. The film explores the boundary between fiction and documentary - it follows an unidentified protagonist methodically watering plants in one of the garden’s palm houses, while at the same time recording the sounds that they emit. The unnamed protagonist, as Dara Waldron says in an accompanying essay, builds ‘a technology to unearth the earth’s imperceptible sounds…(at) a point in time when plant life has become, among other things, a rare commodity; something to be fed and watered in the hope of revealing the essence of the natural world.’
Also shown as part of Terrain is an earlier film Fugue (2011), which was shot in the Garden City of Tapiola, Finland. The film takes its inspiration from a novel by Edward Bellamy, ‘Looking Backward: 2000-1887’ (1888), a book which influenced the construction of garden cities in late 19th century America. In the film we see an isolated figure move through the deserted cityscape, in a sense he is dislocated in time. Like Harvest, Fugue plays on the uncertainty of present and future and as such Terrain is an exhibition which resonates with what the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls ‘past-potential futures,’ as a way of exploring our ongoing environmental crisis.