Thin Places – Blue Maiden and Burren, feminist materialism

  • februari 13, 2018 kl. 6:16 e m #708
    Linda Persson

    Between 5-10th March 2018 the Experimental Heritage project from Sweden will visit Burren in Ireland. Burren is known to be a so called ’Thin place’, something I have been researching since 2016 after becoming aware of such a term. The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerising places like the barren isle of Iona (now part of Scotland) or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. A thin place is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin. Over the last 8 years or so I have visited peripheral landscapes such as the North Cape and throughout the Northern part of Sweden, Finland and Norway in my engagement with landscapes often heavily mined or through forestry logging and more often than not juxtaposed with sacred places that belongs to ancient and indigenous cultures such as the Sámi people. They use these places for their herding trails and many sacred lands are being disintegrated through other industry. My film work Nuortabealli was a celebration of Sámi woman Elsa Kristoffersson who taught me over a few years about language, myths and sacred /ritual places of the South Lappland country. Nuortabealli is a word in the North Sámi (Sweden side) used to describe the moonlight shadow from east in winter at night.

    Going South in 2015 my focus was on the Blue Maiden an ancient, mythical and legendary island known for magic, violent waters, and witches. But my interest also concerned the understanding of the curses emerging from visiting the island, or more accurately; taking with you any of the rocks or stones from this place. This island is also a so called Thin Place. So what is a thin place? Often it is a sacred place but it doesn’t need to be. It has also been muddled with many different belief systems, to any which I don’t belong as a non-believer. But I have wandered many peripheral places for many years, be it the Northern Hemisphere through Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Australian outback such as the West coast of Tasmania, News South Wales outback country of Lighting Ridge or Western Australia Eastern Goldfields and the Great Victoria Desert. The attraction to go to places that doesn’t offer any comfort, places that has a bad reputation has been my ’guidance’. Why? Well why are some places called divine and others filled with dread? For me a pattern has emerged, and I think it was Kierkegaard who suggested that travel and life is best understood backwards (as memory) but has to be experienced forward. This is a territory that seem ineffable: it is hard to express because it’s beyond the power of language to do so. There are only recent archeological digs around the Blue Maiden and again, we struggle to comprehend the experience of what we see or feel. When the project suggested a trip to Ireland, and more specifically Burren- I felt that I have to go. I am very interested in the national park, the monuments and the caves. With me I will carry recording devices to capture (I hope) the inaudible frequencies that sometime emerges. As usual I am interested in moving my body through terrains. Walking, wandering, experience the landscape by being in it. I want to use feminist materialism as a way to think of experience. If people are interested i am keen in some exercises inspired by Sofie Sauzet, Thinking through picturing’ / snaplog. To do this we need to combine photos, texts, interviews and discussions, which reveal emplaced human-nonhuman intra-actions as well as emergent concepts. I want to steer away from an all-to-human place and situation. How can we hear ’matter’?

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