THE RIVER (55° 13' 0'' North)2005-2007
A long-term, site specific public art project which aimed to animate the public space of the River Foyle
The River Foyle flows through Derry, across the border into Donegal. The river is accessed by both religious traditions and urban/rural communities alike and acted for this project as a metaphor, a point of departure and an actual site of inquiry. Testimonies of the River engaged with local communities in order to critically reposition the voices and experiences of local people in the realm of cultural and civic discourse.
In 2005 Testimonies of the River engaged with young people, divers and fishermen from the Greencastle (Donegal) and Magilligan (Derry) areas. Their testimonies spoke of life on the river, the decommissioning of boats and the invisible 'border line' in the water.
In 2006 North-55 collaborated with the New York-based artist collective ConjunctionArts, to co-facilitate a series of workshops with young people from opposite sides of the religious divide. These shared explorations dealt with points of tension such as the marching season and were reflected in a series of oral testimonies, photographic portraits and video recordings. The project also concentrated on communities closer to the river's source and was extended to include emigrants and new immigrants to the area.
In 2007 Testimonies of the River culminated in a large-scale public art event on the River Foyle. Over four consecutive weekends the recorded testimonies of the diverse communities of the River Foyle were broadcast from the tannoy system of the Foyle Ferry as it traversed the border. This event included extracts from 'Hovering above the Sea' composed by 3Epkano, a contemporary music collective along with the last transmission of morse code from Malin Head radio station. A time-lapse film portrait of the River Foyle accompanied the sound work, which was projected as a site-specific audio-visual installation in the Greencastle Maritime Museum.
A major public seminar entitled 'Civic Testimonies brought together artists, participants, critics, academics and others to respond to the Testimonies of the River project.
Speakers included Mary Jane Jacob, Independent Curator, Chair and Professor of Sculpture at the School of Art Institute Chicago, Russell Lewis, Executive Vice President of the Chicago History Museum and Board president of the not-for-profit Street Level Youth Media and Sophie Hope, Curator, evaluator and researcher B + B Curators, London.
COLLABORATORS: Inishowen Development Partnership, Greencastle Maritime Museum, Foyle Ferries, Customs Office, River Foyle Pilot, Magilligan Field Centre, Derry Port, Foyle Search and Rescue, Coast Guard, Loughs Agency, Inishowen Sub-Aqua Club, Moville Community College, Greencastle/Magilligan Youth Project, The Nerve Centre, The Playhouse, The Cathedral Youth Club, The Glen Youth Club and ConjunctionArts, New York.