Remnant Ecologies – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
by Frank L.
Performances: 21 – 25 September – 20:00 – 22:30,various times, €12
€40 for groups of 4
Children under two go free
Venue: National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin
A ‘1.3km night-time adventure by Welsh artist Jony Easterby‘
The National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin are one of the treasures of Dublin. Naturally being a garden, it is usual to visit them during daylight hours. However, what Easterby has created has to be visited after the sun has set so that his various light installations can be seen. There is something thrilling to enter through the elaborate iron gates in Glasnevin in the dark. The great garden in the gathering dusk cloaks itself in a different grandeur to what can be appreciated during the day. In the shadows the shrubs, the trees, the glass houses and the winding paths adopt a new aloofness but yet there is a novel intimacy.
Easterby has created through the garden a circular journey with thirteen different installations. The first is that of seeds which is followed by an atypical image namely that of a giant scything a field. The image is projected onto the side of a building and is vast in scale. The giant moves with a rhythmic magnificence. There then follows a walk through a series of bird stands each one of which has a clockwork contraption which in different tones and sequences emits the sound of a cuckoo. The sound of a cuckoo in everyday life is infrequently heard. Usually, it is more likely to be heard when it is emitted artificially by a cuckoo clock. Easterby does not have a cuckoo clock on display but does show the mechanism that emits a sound that imitates that of a cuckoo. By now you are immersed in the world that Easterby has created. There are a series of wonders to follow such as a goose feather which plucks a bass string which is tensioned by an egg-like river stone and the sound that is created adds a further mystery to the path being trod. There are thirteen different installations which are extraordinarily varied and magnificent. You enter into a world that is mysteriously intriguing and the darkness adds to the intrigue.
You are divided up into groups of twenty-five when you arrive at the gardens. Each group sets off at an interval from the previous one. You walk at your own pace and in the dark, you can become slightly disorientated but throughout the walk, there are guides who will keep you on the right path. Silence adds to the experience. If you find yourself near a group who are talking let them pass. The sound of their chatter is likely to diminish your sense of wonder. The walk will take as long as you want but forty minutes ought to give you a good “feel” for it.
This splendid adventure is the result of a collaboration between the Dublin Fringe Festival, Axis Ballymun, the National Botanic Gardens, and Easterby supported by the Welsh Government Office in Ireland. Congratulations to all concerned for creating a unique experience.