“Undocumented histories of the Irish diaspora in Jamaica”
"..Unveiling old stories and new truths, Keating challenges the legitimacy of the archives and aims to shed light on the anecdotes that have been disregarded by the history books."...
Marianne Keating opens up her ‘Landlessness’ exhibition this month at StudioRCA, turning her focus of work onto the Irish migration period to Jamaica between 1835-1842. As the title of the exhibition suggests, it explores the Irish diaspora in Jamaica having nowhere to pinpoint as home, the fragmented identities and displacement and how this has affected the current Jamaican society. Through interviews, quoted in the exhibition, Keating explores the lasting effects of the Irish migration period in contemporary Jamaica and alternative stories to those that are documented in the archive.
Unveiling old stories and new truths, Keating challenges the legitimacy of the archives and aims to shed light on the anecdotes that have been disregarded by the history books. The body of work is the result of archival research into the Irish, English, Barbadian and Jamaican national archives and news, film footage and interviews in order to paint a clearer picture of mid 19th century Jamaica.
Keating’s multi-disciplinary approach delivers engaging material including short film footage continuously on loop and large prints on display. By conveying narrative throughout the exhibition, she gives a voice to stories that would have otherwise gone unheard. This approach challenges the existing accounts in the archive by delivering ‘other’ truths with imagery that allows the viewer to understand them in a modern context. Short films of the idyllic island illustrate the effects of the Irish migration period on Jamaica’s society, accompanied with serene snapshots giving us a moment to pause and reflect on this undocumented era.
Written by Louise Higgs
Marianne Keating’s ‘Landlessness’ exhibition runs until the 17th November at StudioRCA at Riverlight, SW8 5DA.