The Body Electric; An Interview with artist Suzanne Walsh – Part 4
by Marie-Louise Blaney.
Marie-Louise Blaney is the Education Curator at The Model, Sligo.
In the final stage of this interview with artist Suzanne Walsh, I was curious to find out more about how they find titles for their work; the value of engaging in deep time and their perspective on other realities. In this final stage of the interview, Walsh departs with some wise words.
MLB Suzanne, I am curious to know how important titles are in your work?
SW Very. I worry over them, and take a long time to pick them, sometimes it feels as long as the work takes. Often I just have to pick something I’m relatively happy with and let it go if I’m out of time (for a deadline). Other times I’m so happy when I hit the right combination. For example, I wrote an essay on East Wall years ago for Fallowmedia. And the Luas that goes towards East Wall, (to the Point), always makes this announcement ‘This tram serves all stops to the Point’. So the essay was called ‘All Stops to the Point’. It makes reference to a local thing, but also has a nice abstract quality if you don’t know that, and somehow suggests spatiality. That’s my favourite kind of title. But it doesn’t always happen.
ML Do you time travel when you create work?
SW I’m told time comes up in my work a lot so I’d say yes? I love engaging with layers of history in an area, and thinking about how time is not linear, so that we’re living sometimes all time together. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been writing about the area I live in recently, Phibsboro, and I did all this research on the local history and folklore there, and sometimes it makes walking around extra dreamlike. I also like the idea that time is circular, or nonlinear, I find it helpful, especially when thinking of the dead.
ML Are you interested in deep time? Do you have a yearning for alternative realities?
SW I’ve always been interested in deep time, early life forms, our pre-human ancestors. It feels unimaginable to think of time in that way, or to imagine what it was like before humans came along. If I was told to think of an imagined space to help relax, instead of the beach or something like that, I would imagine this time.
I think though the yearning in my work is also for elements of that wildness and diversity that could exist in the present day. Both literal and symbolic wildness, I’m in favour of rewilding for biodiversity etc., reintroduction of species, giving over land to wildlife. But also I desire more potential for other ways of living in general in the world. At the moment it feels like, in Ireland, that we’re all supposed to want to get married, have children, buy a house, have a certain kind of job. And this isn’t even achievable for the people who want it, financially etc. But I would like to see equal value and possibility for creating different kinds of communities, for those that fall outside of these desires. In terms of yearning for alternative realities of the less physical kind, of course, I think this is about a shift in valuing other kinds of thinking, being. This can happen anytime, any day. It already does.
MLB Thanks Suzanne. Is there anything you would like to leave us with, from this world or others?
SW On a practical level, there’s a great opportunity to engage with inequality in this country presently, in terms of housing, how we treat refugees, also with the recent fires in Killarney and reports on loss of bird life. We can be a lot more progressive, also for LGBT people as well as other minorities. I think a lot of organisations are doing their best to raise awareness and push back against these things. CATU, The Irish Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Rescue Ireland, MASI, TENI to name a few, it’s good to get informed even a little. Regarding the otherworlds, stay open!
Suzanne Walsh continues to make sound recordings from the animal kingdom, processed machine recordings, the human voice, nature and otherworlds. Recent works include photography and video, with text and audio. They have published in literary and art journals such as gorse journal, Winter Papers, Visual Artist News Sheet and The Tangerine. They have performed and collaborated in multi-disciplinary projects with a wide range of musicians and artists.