• All images courtesy of the artist, stills from upcoming film

  • All images courtesy of the artist, stills from upcoming film

Flatland Projects is proud to present The ground is kind, black butter, a solo exhibition by artist Djuna O’Neill (b. 1998, Ireland), from 1 July–6 August 2023.

This will be O’Neill’s first solo exhibition, showcasing newly commissioned moving image and sculptural works. Within her practice, O’Neill playfully stretches the ever-evolving iterations of fiction and worldbuilding. From folklore and oral traditions to gaming, her work explores how storytelling can help us reconsider environments and our relationships to them. She questions how stories of other worlds imbibe the way we inhabit our own, and how do these narratives linger within digital realms?

In recent years, O’Neill has focused her research around boglands, digesting these habitats as sites of alterity, borderlands and sites of refuge in histories of colonial dispossession, “wastelands”. Understanding these interstitial zones as containers of local knowledge, O’Neill investigates the peat as a communal archive. These habitats have become significant cultural sites imbued with heritage practices, though their continuing existence is threatened.

Taking its title from Seamus Heaney’s 1969 poem Bogland, this exhibition tussles out the slippery temporality of peat bogs, diving into their mesmeric qualities and mobilising their resistant potential. The show will present two sculptural works in metal and a short film in three acts, shot in and around Galway. Each act, made using a combination of 16mm film and digitally rendered spaces, explores a site evoking the otherworldly in relation to Irish mythological motifs. Through The Bog, The Ruin and The Cave, the film explores how myths inform our perception of landscapes, tracing how these age-old tales permeate contemporary digital environments. Each location is haunted by characters that inhabit them. Shadows of banshees, wise women and hags roam the boundaries between the corporeal and the intangible, the earthly and the celestial. The works in metal will reflect on the material archive of boglands, crystalising artefacts preserved in their anaerobic mud.

This exhibition and its events programme is being curated by Fran Painter-Fleming as the culmination of her Curatorial Fellowship between The De La Warr Pavilion and Flatland Projects.