Seán Lynch: Peregrine Falcons Visit Moyross

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Recent  press  reports  have  the  Moyross  area  of  Limerick marked as a bad and troubled place. Petrol bombs, shootings, families forced to flee; a catalogue of modern miseries and infrastructural failings that are ripe  for  popular  readership,  and  a  stigmatism  for  the  community that lives there.
Sean Lynch’s Peregrine Falcons Visit Moyross (2008) is a video work that attempts to create a different visual register  of  the  place.  In  2008,  the  artist  introduced  three specially trained peregrine falcons to Moyross. There, with miniature cameras attached between their wings,  the  falcons  commanded  the  skies  and  stalked  the ground with a primal indifference to bad reputations or social disadvantage.
The  resulting  work  is  a  three‐minute  edit  from  the  falcons’ erratic navigation over and above the residential  buildings  and  indeterminable  green  areas of  Moyross.  There  are  moments  in  the  video  where  the speed and mobility of the falcon (the fastest creature  in  the  world)  becomes  the  work’s  dominant  effect. An acceleration of stoops, jolts and sharp changes  in  direction,  amounts  to  a  flickering,  exalted  view of the area. It’s a suburban application of a wildlife  documentary  technique:  the  camera  is  attached to the falcon in a way similar to that used to track  animal  behaviour  patterns  for  the  armchair  observer. A weird sublimation of animal eyes for human kind.
There are also moments of pause. The falcon, perched upon  a  rooftop  where  it  tactically  considers  its  next  move, allows us to see the rows of houses, the network  of  roads,  and  parts  of  a  structural  plan  of  Moyross that has been the subject of much contention and blame.
Consistent  with  Sean  Lynch’s  previous  works  and  projects is the cultivation of histories that are legible within  their  local  context  as  equally  as  within  the  languages and positions of current artistic culture. Peregrine Falcons Visit Moyross shares in this respect. The work has demonstrable community engagements (the  support  of  local  newspapers  and  the  free  distribution of DVD copies, as testimonial, if token, examples). Yet, it is also a work that is sensitive to the typical  indulgence  of  artistic  positioning  within  a  community that does not seek artistic intervention, which  is  more  often  imposed  and  sanctioned  by  civil  authority agendas.
If  the  use  of  camera‐strapped  falcons  represents  a  deferral of the artist’s own responsibilities of vision, it is a significant manoeuvre in the context of Moyross. Built in the late ’70s and early ’80s as a social housing ‘project’, Moyross continues to be the object of well­‐ intended  speculation.  As  controversy  mounts  about  new plans – announced in 2008 – to regenerate the area  once  again,  it  seems  vital  to  achieve  a  representation of Moyross that does not implicate itself  in  the  double-cross  of  these  visions  or  any  misguided overconfidence concerning art’s direct social agency.
For  three  minutes,  no  more,  we  borrow  the  falcons’  view: a representation subtracted of reputation, speculation and vision. And Moyross – a place many of us have never been to – begins to feel a little roomier somehow.
Sean Lynch’s Peregrine Falcons Visit Moyross was on view at the Crawford Art Gallery, 8 – 15 May 2010.