Jarman Award Shortlist Artist Profile: Seamus Harahan
Date posted: 18.11.2015
In the latest of our series of shortlisted artist profiles, Seamus Harahan talks about some of the ideas behind his video-based work, the importance of sound and music in his practice and reflects on the social context which underpins his distinctive observational approach to filmmaking.
Watch the full interview:
Catch a screening of early films by Seamus Harahan as well as a live music performance by Harahan (accordion) and his collaborators Robyn G Shiels (guitar & vocals) and James Heaney (banjo), as part of the Jarman Award 2015 Whitechapel Weekend event on Sunday 21 November.
About the Artist
Seamus Harahan's video, installation, film and sound based practice engages directly with place. His starting point is not the making of art; instead his strategy is to forget and just film the social and cultural environment around him.
Harahan uses his video camera to take hand-held, seemingly amateur footage, the contents of this footage, locating himself and locating others, through found activity occurring around him. The main subject is often the urban environment, its incidental detail and fugitive nature.
Music is a vital element in all of Harahan's works, with songs used as soundtracks or informing the composition, title or duration of individual pieces. The artist takes songs from an eclectic range of sources, including reggae and hip hop as well as English and Irish traditional music.
'It's an odd place, you can tell who's who by the type of dog they walk - the Catholics all walk greyhounds and the Protestants have fighting dogs.'
Filmed in and around a park in North Belfast known locally as The Waterworks, Seamus Harhan's recent project, Cold Open, takes as its subject an area of public space which, during the time of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, was one of the most surveilled places in Western Europe.
Harahan spent a year filming the area, observing the local people who use the park as well as the local youth engaged in what he describes as 'recreational rioting'. As with Harhan's other works, Cold Open is presented as a series of simply edited short vignettes, arranged chronologically in the order in which the footage was captured.
Reflecting on Jarman's influence, Harahan recalls being particularly drawn to Jarman's 1978 film Jubilee which appealed to his interest in punk. Like many artists of his generation, Harahan also fondly relates discovering the work of Derek Jarman as part of an informal introduction to world cinema courtesy of late night BBC2 and Channel 4 television.
Tickets for the Jarman Award 2015 Whitechapel Weekend are available via the Whitechapel Gallery website.
The 2015 Jarman Award will be presented on Monday 30 November.