Yvette Monahan

Yvette Monahan, The Thousand Year Old Boy

Yvette Monahan, The Thousand Year Old Boy

About the work

In 2006, a group of cavers made exciting archaeological discoveries in a cave in the Burren, a unique limestone landscape in the West of Ireland. 

A poignant revelation was also made: the 3,000 year old skeleton of a child. They were able to extract DNA from these Bronze Age remains.  The Archaeologists tested this DNA against 150 children from a local school. One boy was an exact match.  It turns out that he lives in a house less than one mile from the cave.

This story captivated me and led me to question whether a landscape could hold the individual and collective stories of those that pass over it?

Could a landscape hold the stories of this one boy and the subsequent generations that carried his DNA?  Is this rocky landscape really just compressed time, made up of fragmented lives, both organic and inorganic?

As I was expecting my first child while working on this project, I wondered what story would I write on the landscape with such a small ephemeral time-frame?  What kind of landscape could exist here in another 3,000 years?

In my work, I use the writer, Tim Robinson’s idea of the ‘adequate step’, where each step in the landscape takes note of geology, biology, myths, history and politics of the landscape.  It allows an allegorical landscape full of the intangible to exist.  Tim’s map of the Burren was also the guide that I used to mark out my own adequate step.

The thousand year old boy explores the Burren as an ancient place, a landscape that acts as a silent witness to the lives of those who have gone before, holding their memories and stories. 

The title comes from an experimental music piece by Roger Doyle, an Irish composer whose music explores imagined world music – past, present and future.

About the artist

Yvette Monahan (b.1977) is a Dublin based photographer who works with myths and landscape.  She is interested in how a particular landscape can hold stories of what’s been and what could be.

Her recent project The thousand year old boy won the Gallery of Photography’s Solas Ireland Award in November 2015 which included exhibitions at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin and at Fotohof Gallery in Salzburg.The thousand year old boy has just been exhibited as part of the Belfast Exposed Futures and will be shown as part of New Irish Works in Dublin next March 2017.The Gallery of Photography in Dublin nominated The thousand year old boy for the 2016 Prix Pictet award SPACE.

Yvette won both the Portfolio award at PhotoIreland and Slideluck Potshow in 2013 for her body of work The time of dreaming the world awake.  The book dummy was nominated for the MACK first book award.Consequently, she had a solo show at The Copper House Gallery as part ofPhotoIreland 2014.  This work has also been exhibited in the UK, the USA, Finland and France.Yvette also self-published The time of dreaming the world awake as a monograph, it is currently on sale worldwide.  The Gallery of Photography in Dublin nominated The time of dreaming the world awake for the 2015 Prix Pictet award DISORDER.

Yvette holds a MFA in Photography from the University of Ulster, Belfast and an MA in Geography from Trinity College Dublin.


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