Conversations from Cobh

Conversations from Cobh is a response to a visit to Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh. The Arts Centre was closed on the day due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Sarah:

I was so excited that day going to Cobh because ah I really wanted to see that exhibition.. ahm Debbie Godsell and Fiona Kelly and Sarah O’ Flaherty like big fans of all of them and I was all ready to be like… I guess inspired by their work because… ahm well the image, the image is I think of Debbie Godsell’s work – it’s like all prints like folded over like these kinda like wooden structures and that’s something ahm I was just really excited to like to see. And also like the show is called something like ahm Visions of an unsettled earth I think, which I mean like c’mon.. that’s pretty much the whole vibe that’s going on right now. I mean that could pretty much be 2020 [laughs] 2020 vision.. 2020 Vision of an unsettled earth.. that’s pretty much what’s going on… So I was really excited to see it. Well y’know.. I feel like we had planned to go like before and y’know, obviously we didn’t and then we couldn’t and then we were like we’re gonna go this Sunday and we had it all planned and it was such a hype ahmm I feel coz even y’know the fact that I was hungover and was supposed to drive us out and then was like [laughs] in no fit state to do so, we still went anyway y’know getting the train and stuff and y’know like it was kinda like a mad dash to get to the train and it was so anticlimactic then [laughs] to get out there .. I think we shoulda.. I think the omen was the taxi man’s  complete indifference to our like peril ahm his like really relaxed attitude while we’re like-we were up the walls, I think that was probably an omen and we arrive out there and then like fecking nothing ahmm… Ya it’s kind of am [pause]

 it’s kind of like… it kind of feels like very apt for this year because like I think a very common thing that we keep saying is ‘oh like when the restrictions lift-or like when everything goes back to normal-like oh we’re gonna have some, we’re gonna have some class night out or something, or like we’re gonna have some’…’oh can you imagine now when we can just do this or we can just like go for a pint and not worry about it or like just go to the cinema and oh y’know it’ll be a laugh when we can go dancing again and blah blah blah blah’ but .. and it’s always kind of like waiting and waiting and waiting and none of it happens ahm.. ya ..God I feel like there might be some connection between like … waiting and like Cobh, Cobh as a place of waiting, like somewhere that you leave… even that, that statue of y’know the emigrant Annie Moore – which like I had completely forgotten about that story and even when like you and Kim were going on about it ahm and then it only came back to me when we started singing that folk song by the statue and then I told you about how-how everyone laughed at me when I brought that song to school.. but I wasn’t too embarrassed because I was quite into that jam… ahm ya I think there might be something in that .. waiting to get out of Cobh, waiting to get out of Covid…

Actually- have you ever read ‘Waiting for Godot’ coz that’s just basically two lads waiting for something that never happens and ahh.. in many ways that was the three of us there in Cobh and in many ways that’s all of us in the whole country [sigh]

Niamh:  

I am-no ah-I haven’t read waiting for Godot… I just looked it up there though and they have like the full play -on YouTube .. I might give it an ole listen… or watch ahm ya .. I dunno it kind of feels like.. even ya back to the taxi driver – where in all fairness I mean I was pushing it a bit late coz I was working the night before and I was like..aw will we make it in time?.. and he was just kind of like- he scoffed and was like tsst -it did kind of feel like ‘ aw jaysus why are you..’-kinda would it even be that bad to miss it-and also he was like fuck it you’ll get there anyway ah-and the whole having to get the train there… The thing is, is like, when I was going down, I feel like when I have gone to the Sirius.. Arts Centre it’s been kind of sunny and there’s kind of been a feel of like it’s ‘oh it’s a grand day out now’ and just like even on the way down having to wear the mask on the train it was just  like ugggghh and it was dreary and miserable out and actually I was freezing and just like our conversation on the train where it was just like oh ‘is it-is it even open?’ ‘ah god ya-it should be’….. but then like [laughs] just that walk from the train station just walking into Cobh like right past the Sirius Arts Centre and seeing it completely closed up and dark inside , I was just like ah ya that’s how-that’s how-that’s how it is, shoulda expected that. I think there is something about the aimlessness of it .. like you’re just kind of like it’s like, like we floated, like we kinda just floated  around Cobh then because we went there with that purpose and then that purpose was taken away [laughs]  and I was like oh  when will we get back there, will we be able to see that show again and.. I was just like I kinda of remembered the times I’d been there in the past where I’d seen like Padraig Spillane’s show I think. I went down there with my parents and they were like ‘oh ya, that’s pretty cool’

Sarah: 

No, I think you’re definitely right about the aimlessness of it .. coz like that’s a thing.. that’s what made me think of Waiting for Godot as well coz it’s that thing of like ….. it’s kind of that Beckett thing of like, of life passing with like noo meaning [laughs] –just keeping it nice and light there now like but- ya that’s kind of like- it’s that kind of like indifference I guess or it’s that lack of event … ahm ..

Niamh: 

I think … there was a purpose.. and then when our purpose was taken away we were just left with this kind of aimlessness and like-and kind of even-[laughs] erratic behaviour where we bounced off each other-where I mean there was joy in that [laughs] there’s no like ah-denying we had a bit of a laugh there when ah-we literally just saw the statue and were like well ‘oh that reminds us of this folk song’ and just start singing away to the statue [laughs] because.. we were so desperate.[laughs]. well maybe we were just desperate-I was gonna say we were desperate for a bit of a night out – a little bit of sing-song a dance coz those are things that like… those are things that … not that I’m saying they bring us joy-but they do like… just like Godot or like Waiting for Godot where it’s like-its focusing on the pure aimlessness of life itself … which is ah-very heavy right now. I mean … it kind of reminds me of the kind of introspective way y’know .. en plein air….. is that the right thing? Where you go walking? God what’s that called again.. ahmm… but it’s like where you just, you just wander.. oh god what’s that artist? Aww… Where they would just wander around the city and there was no aim to it and there was no… but it’s being  immersed in the structure of the city and just wandering and kind of like there being a process to that or maybe there’s even a meaning in that itself rather than  having a purposeful like … having a purposeful location… having that very point to get that.. it kind of like contrasts I ‘spose…not really contrasts …. It challenges the idea of the aimlessness of life… it’s like the aimlessness is the purpose… is this too much? [laughs]

Sarah: 

Ahmm… I think you’re thinking of a flanuer..  ahm like ..kind of like a dandy who wanders around with no purpose… ahm.. ya actually I read a really good book there during the first lockdown called Flanuese so it was like-it was like a female gendering of that word coz all flanuers are men or whatever it was about women walking the city and that was really interesting, it was really empowering coz like obviously ahm women walking by themselves… y’know …. it’s a big deal … so ya must lend you that. What was I gonna say? Ya, I guess we were three gals wandering … Ya I guess it’s that thing of… ahm just because you’re not… I guess there is such an emphasis on acting I guess and on producing and on contributing ahm that there is like less of an emphasise in life on contemplation and like on being. So it’s kinda like that ah-that difference between the active life the kind of like contemplative life… the life of like being or existing. And I guess that’s something like y’know.. I think I can speak for everyone [laughs] that we struggled with during the first lockdown -that when like-when what you think is your purpose, when your action is taken away from you and you don’t have that role anymore in society- ya I’m being heavy- when you have that taken away … y’know .. it is possible to just be like… that is like a nice thing…but trying to get your head around is like.. scary I guess. Sorry I’m definitely rambling now…  I don’t know if that makes sense

Niamh: 

A tonne of sense. A tonne. Really interesting in you saying that.. because  like it is true… coz like, it was very funny, coz like after that day like-I think it was the last day… of work for me so like-then where I’ve been in this job for three years …later on that week I was let know ‘oh look you’ve been let go again’ ahmmm and ya I was able to more identify with that fact like ah I felt aimless.. I felt dejected … just due to the fact like even…it kind of gave me some kind of value…not that I would base my value on the j- wellll mmmmmm -like that feeling of being able of-being able to contribute to society .. and-and.. like that-that like somehow I was like ‘oooh this like something that I feel happy doing’ and also feel like it gave me a purpose y’know just to structure the rest of my life around and then it was taken away.. well not taken away but like… then you have to deal with the fact that you should be .. you should always be ok with just being .. and just living because like… [laughs] what else are you supposed to do? Like it shouldn’t be indoctrinated that that like value should come from the doing…ahmm… and pure existence is just … you can find joy in that… Jesus bit deep… But ya I’d love to borrow that book because it was it was just three gals just wandering … …. As we do actually…

Sarah: 

Hmm… ya, no coz like it doesn’t even matter, sorry no that’s not right, it does matter where you get your value from…but I think it’s like if you think that’s what society values I guess.. y’know like if you’re-if you’re like ‘oh that’s my role’ that’s how society sees my role or whatever and if that’s taken away then that can be quite a scary thing .. ya… but it’s like that’s just like.. oh god I’m gonna sound like a prick but like that’s just being in a machine I guess and you just get wrapped up in it. Oh god can’t believe I just said that but any way I did… ahmm mort.. ah ya but it’s a strange space to be in…

Niamh: 

Hmm ya it’s interesting it’s like this whole thing screams ‘liminality’ .. y’know I did my thesis on it

Sarah: 

Ya like Cobh being a port as well like obviously ya it’s a liminal space and then the fact that we’re all in a liminal space .. [heavy sigh]… anyway

Niamh: 

But it’s lost its purpose as well hasn’t it?… With age.. ahmm as well now it’s just kind of a tourist destination in regards to like the ferries and stuff and even those fucking aimless purposeless benches for a view that looks out onto …. Nothing really…god!..

Sarah:  

I guess that’s the thing with liminal spaces as well they don’t.. hmmm.. I remember I wrote about y’know Aoife Claffey’s work.. and she did her degree show about Cork airport y’know the old terminal.. and it was a liminal space but it was a liminal space that had had its purpose removed because obviously it wasn’t operating as a terminal anymore ahmm I remember I was talking about her in relation to Hal Foster’s ‘archival theory’ which he used to describe Tacita Dean and that idea of recalling lost souls.. if you think of this.. the archival in relation to Cobh coz its lost its purpose in what it’s doing ,say, but obviously there’s the statue say of Annie Moore and ‘ooh the Titanic’ and ‘oh the history of the place’ ‘ oh like Spike island’ y’know but like what’s actually going on there now? I basically remember summing up Aoife’s work saying something like it evoked feeling towards the concept of time… so like time as a thing of great beauty but also like time passing as a source of anxiety… anyway that’s a fucking lot but I feel like you know more about the liminal right?

Niamh: 

it’s change of purpose and its sudden lack of purpose.. is I suppose-it is a spot for dark tourism- it is a spot for like ‘ oh the famine jaysus, the famine’  there is nothing sadder for me I suppose than something that’s lost its purpose…and there is something tragic  and… and-and kind of sad about that-ahm ya.. but like ya in regard to liminality.. the guy who was the first to coin.. oh god, I can’t remember his name-but he wrote a book about it and it was about societal rituals and it was about not even epic things happening it was about the individual rituals and the space between it happening and it being done… there is this palpable thing inside that space and he could conflate this to huge societal events where there has been a huge disruption of the norm I guess… It’s like these giant disruptions create this kind of bubble or space and it’s like throwing a ball in the air and when the ball is in the air-when there is no action-when it hits the precipice it’s -kind of like .. where we’re just hanging in the air and we’re just waiting to see the next like kind of… causation

Sarah: 

I .. I … I agree with you that something that loses its purpose is like tragic and sad but also… well I guess it’s that thing of ruins being beautiful y’know? Like they’ve obviously lost their purpose but they are quite beautiful, I wouldn’t say that I get sad looking at a ruin and then there is something about Aoife Claffey’s work that’s really beautiful, the terminal like…. That… was-when I saw her work for the degree show, I just thought like ‘wow’ … I don’t – do you say it’s sublime or something? It was very beautiful-and like you did feel this like immense awareness of time. .. So I agree with you I think it’s really sad but in a… in a really beautiful way. But yes we are totally up in the air …like in – a little ball… That is really interesting I think… coz its funny like… I know that we like … there was a lot of.. like getting the taxi to the train station.. and then the train to Cobh.. like very y’know.. I guess that’s a liminal space in itself like us travelling to Cobh and then Cobh itself being a liminal space and then the fact that the… we couldn’t go to the exhibition because we are all in this liminal space of waiting for fucking COVID to be over

Niamh: 

But… it is a very creative space to be in because the social norms have broken down like-the regular isn’t the regular anymore but like also y’know [laughs] it can be a space of crisis as well but ahm ya… obviously kind of like a lack of power  and control which everybody has to kind of be ok with like y’know and then when were in Cobh it was kind of just like lets wander then-let’s just be wanderers for a day let’s just be or something like that. The guy’s name was Van Gannep! When like ahm …as well as that-when like talking-when talking about sublime and stuff within ahmm Aoife Claffey’s work I was kind of like reminded of Bill Viola whose like one of my favourite video artists and The Crossing which is so sublime and so ahm kind of liminal where it’s someone passing through water but it just feels so meditative… can we say that? Can we say that Cobh was meditative? That in the walking… naww I suppose not … I suppose I wouldn’t-it’s just waiting…

Sarah: 

’Member I said we were on a pilgrimage because we were walking around and we just ended up in the Cathedral and we lit a candle and then we talked about how we should do the Camino when this is all over? So …. It ..I guess there was a spiritual aspect to the walk which was meditative… I love that … that this is a time of creativity but also a time of chaos … ahmm I think I might start typing up some of this…

Niamh:

 Ahm I completely forgot about us lighting that candle [laughs] in that church and it was a Sunday of all days as well and the fact that we were talking about the Camino as well and also I was going on about how doing the Camino.. I was like ‘ah what’s the fucking point?’ And ye were both like ‘aahh it’d be fun’ – I kind of like felt like there was no point in it-It was just walking for the sake of walking which I guess we were doing as well.. It definitely felt like a mini pilgrimage…

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