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Installation view
SORCHA BOYLE
18/10/18 - 28/10/18
In partnership with the 2018 Liverpool Irish Festival, OUTPUT has commissioned Liverpool-based artist Sorcha Boyle to respond to the successful repeal of The 8th Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which now allows the government to legislate for abortion and grants new body autonomy to people in Ireland. Boyle will present a new film, 'Idir dhá uisce Between two waters.' This piece has two elements, voices of women in response to the repeal of the 8th Amendment, set against a diptych filmed at Lough Foyle on the Derry/Donegal border. The title Idir dhá uisce translates from Irish as ‘between two waters.’ This idea of a contested body of water can relate to the female body as contested space, subject to the governance of different states.
In developing the piece, I put out an open call for voices of women in response to the repeal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I received a modest response, which suggests there may well be stigma about speaking of this issue despite the anonymity of the call. The women who responded are from the north and south of Ireland as well as Irish women living in England. They are of different generations and perspectives. Some speak of the past, of the governance of women’s bodies by church and state, of back street abortions and journeys across the sea. Other voices are optimistic and speak of the success of the repeal for women’s advocacy and the prospect of change in the north. These testimonies reflect how the issue of abortion currently rests in a liminal space, between legislative and social change, between south and north and in the relationship between these two islands.

Another connection between these ideas occurred when I came across the work of Women on Waves, a Dutch based organisation offering reproductive healthcare in countries where abortion is illegal. This is offered from a ship docked in international waters, 12 miles out from shore. Similarly, I learned the ‘no man’s land’ of Lough Foyle is also an international boundary but the border line has never been agreed. Britain claims ownership out to the twelve mile nautical limit but twelve miles out will take you to Inishowen in County Donegal.

The waters of Lough Foyle also have significance in Irish myth. Manannán mac Lir, the sea god, is said to be buried at the Tonn banks, where the filming took place. This liminal space can also be a point of entry to the otherworld of mythology. In this way Idir dhá uisce uses the sea as a site for contemplation offering multiple interpretations to the viewer.

- Sorcha Boyle