Exhibition Proposal- The Future Lost City of Inis Aeráid

The name of my proposed project is the city of Inis Aeráid or Climate Island. It takes its lead from the work of artists such as Robert Smithson and Deniz Uster and the idea of entropy made visible.

The work by Smithson from a recent post in placing practice consisted of an old woodshed that was partially buried on one side by twenty truckloads of earth, piled around and on top of the structure until its central roof beam cracked. Smithson intended the shed to break up slowly under the weight of the earth, and vegetation to grow over the mound.

Fascinated by ruins and the idea of habitations and culture being buried by natural erosion, Smithson saw geological change as a metaphor for the workings of the human mind.

I took a recent trip to Garinish Island in Glengarrif West cork, I have visited every few years over the past decade or so. During this time though I was reading The Drowned World which is a 1962 science fiction novel by the British writer J. G. Ballard. The novel depicts a post-apocalyptic future where global warming has caused the majority of the earth to become uninhabitable.

Climate change- the planet has entered a new geologic epoch -called the Anthropocene. The rate of change of the Earth’s system is accelerating as a result of humans’ impact on the planet’s biology, chemistry, and physics.

The temperate climate in Glengarrif harbour gives it an otherworldly feel. This is influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic and the Gulf stream. The warm ocean currents means that rare plants flourish, frost is rare and snow almost unheard of.  The Archipelago of tiny, clumpy, mossy Islands scattered about on the boat trip remind me of stepping stones.

Submerged cities

A number of these tiny clumpy islands become submerged with the changing tides so I thought, what a perfect space to artificially create a submerged city like Atlantis or JG Ballards dystopian version of London. I feel many other people share my urge to verify a future brought to a premature end – the will to become a late eyewitness to history as Magali Arriola describes it in her essay, A Victim and a Viewer: Some Thoughts on Anticipated Ruins.

My proposed miniature city, in the correct location within Glengarriff Harbour, would become submerged and revealed throughout the changing tides. With high tides varying between nine and twelve feet in this area depending on the time of year.

Here is an example of concrete ruins in the area (L), though only partly submerged in very high tides. As you can see, there isn’t a lot of evidence of the erosion of the sea, the ruin was also further inland.

Which brings me to the decision to create my proposed island city in sandstone (R) which will erode over a shorter timespan without harming the seawater environment. Some examples of submerged towns which have been flooded by electricity companies during  the 20th century are Vilarinho da Furna Portugal on the left and the Gearagh, Macroom Co. Cork on the right

It is uncertain as to how long these structures that I propose to build will take to disappear much like the uncertainty of our own personal futures and the future of our planet. My proposed project of the creation of the city of Inis Aeráid is an example of entropy made visible and like Smithson’s earthworks it is designed to acquire its own history.