Strike 4 Repeal by ellie berry

Last week on the 8th of March (international women's day), women in Ireland (and everywhere else) were urged to "Strike for Repeal" - This strike is based on non-traditional strike actions for human rights that have used in other parts of the world. In October 2016, thousands of people in more than 60 cities in Poland went on strike to protect their access to abortion - and won.  

And so here in Ireland we went on strike over the fact that we have no access to abortion rights at all - which is in contradiction to UN health rights. We are looking to "Repeal the 8th" amendment, which outlaws all abortion in Ireland.  

Below is one of my more recent attempts at both shooting and editing video.

Holes by ellie berry

Farm Security Administration photo archive:
Untitled photo, possibly related to nearby photo captioned: Tobacco lands after the Connecticut River had subsided near Hatfield, Massachusetts. Photographed in 1936.

"Holes Punched Through History"

The Atlantic Article
"In 1935, Roy Stryker became the head of the Information Division of the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA), documenting work done by the government to help poor farmers and their families during the Great Depression... In the early years, Stryker himself reviewed and edited photographs mailed in by FSA photographers, and would often “kill” a photo he disapproved of (remove it from consideration for publishing) by punching a hole right through the negative. The photographers were unhappy with this destructive hole-punch method, and frequently let Stryker know, but he didn’t stop until about 1939."

This evening I was flicking past Twitter when The Atlantic's short article appeared. With barely any more text than what I've quoted above, the altered negatives were left to speak for themselves. It's clear these holes are not made at random, but attack supposedly specific parts of each image - sometimes the face; sometimes central; sometimes without logic, but aesthetically placed. 

Below are some of the images featured in The Atlantic Article, followed by more that I then found myself through the Library of Congress. 

Most of the punched negatives are "untitled", but reference other negatives within their description - such as the two below:

In my reading of the images, the hole goes from offering some comedic moments, to taking on a whole persona. 
I've a lot more I want to say on these images, but that will take time of me searching for the right way to say it. So for now I'm going to share these images with you, because they are too intriguing not to. 

Let me know what you think. 

On a side note,

When I was younger I used to read a lot - possibly too much. For one excuse or the other, the amount of reading I was doing pretty much dried up to nothing. To throw myself back in the deep end, I'm going to read a book a week. Last week's book was Pyramids by Terry Pratchett. This weeks book is Wanderlust: A history of walking by Rebecca Solnit. If you have any recommendations, pass them on! 

240km in words by ellie berry

Day 1:  Home, Dublin city centre - Sallins, Kildare. 
Day 2: Sallins, Kildare - Monasterevin, Kildare (via Robertstown).
Day 3: Monasterevin, Kildare - Carlow Town, Carlow.
Day 4: Carlow town - Kilkenny city, Kilkenny.  
Day 5: Kilkenny city - Cloneen, South Tipperary.
Day 6: Cloneen, South Tipperary - Home, South Tipperary.

The idea for this walk came about in my final semester of college. The year before I had spent more of the year living abroad than in Ireland, and had walked 1,100km through France and Spain with my boyfriend Carl. While spending so much time away, I had thought a lot about Ireland and the idea of home. So many people we met were in love with our country and culture. And so when it became time to make new photographic work, walking seemed like a natural option. 

I didn't leave with a specific outcome in mind, and the images I made were definitely not what I expected. This walk was quiet and long.

I stayed in B&B's and hostels along the way. Not bringing a tent hugely cut down on the size of my bag. Which means I hiked with one extra pair of pants, one extra top, and change of socks and underwear, a book and notebook, my camera, a charger for my phone and camera, and a few snacks. 

My route planning was fairly simple - I followed the grand canal south-wards out of Dublin, until I reached Carlow. From here, I ended up following Google Maps - which on the first day brought me along a closed road, over a mountain and down into Kilkenny. From Kilkenny onwards was a wandering mix of small and smaller roads, crossing into areas that I had vague memories of driving through a when much smaller. 

Reaching my mother's home was a mix of excitement, exhaustion, and a lot of relief. I got to sit on the grass for a long time, and I relished getting a clean pair of socks. 

Life after college: the big decisions? by ellie berry

Above is a photo I made during my final year of college. I borrowed a camera from the stores so I could try my hand at some medium sized navel-gazing. It had been a long time since I had shot in that format, and wound on that kind of film - which as you can see, I didn't get quite right. So I ended up with a couple of oddly (and one that turned out to be unusable) exposed rolls. 

Looking at those rolls, and 35mm that I've shot since then, it's clear to me that I've been wandering without a purpose for quite a while. 

But I didn't start writing this entry with the aim of discussing the possible listlessness of recent work. That's only happened because I decided to use this image as the header or introduction to this piece.

I've come to ... I've forgotten. 

I've developed an interesting problem. Since finishing college I have lost my attention span. I spend hours flicking from one social media to the other, reloading and rescrolling through the same feeds. Ask me to read a real body of text, that isn't some horrible clickbait infested mess and I cannot concentrate. Two sentences in and my mind has stopped focusing on the text - instead I have music lyrics, book plots, random celebrity gossip, and trash shouting over my inner monologue reading voice. 

I currently have four different journal drafts simply because I get half way through writing something and my mind moves on, not willing to work through that awkward sentence I need to phrase. 

Having now admitted and assessed my problem, it is time to start working. Over the last few weeks of December, I am going to start re-writing my thesis "The Poetics and Politics of Imagery: National Geographic's misrepresentation of non-Western countries through Instagram." And! Actually, I would love to finish reading Edward Said's Orientalism. But the two of these go hand in hand. 

And now for an image to break up my words. I've typed more than planned. Apologies if I have shown this image before - it is from the same roll as the photograph above. 

I think it is time to finally get around to the title of this piece, "Life after college: the big decisions?". I graduated with a first class honours 24 days ago. This was as far as I had planned in my life. Up until now, it's been easy. I've followed the general path I've been planning since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. No one warned me how scary it would be reaching the end of it. Lots of parts of me want to run away to somewhere beautiful (New Zealand has been the fixation for about a year, but really anywhere far away qualifies) and kind of postpone or completely cancel this idea of making "big decisions". 

"Are you going to do a Masters?"
"Where are you working now?"
"What's the life plan?"
"How's the boyfriend? You've been going out a long time now."

I have been asked these questions a lot. My unfocused mind mentioned above has also been using these questions to distract me from actually living, and so I feel like I've been bombarded with this since the summer. Change feels like it is definitely needed, but committing to something has become difficult. 

Do these "big decisions" even exist, or is it just me asking myself these questions while I figure out what is actually supposed to happen? Eh. Life, aye? 

Recent Inspiration by ellie berry

"One Christmas Luke asked for a drill. I think that’s where this starts.
He got it too and a decade later he was making an ad up North and he saw a forest and he thought there should be something hidden in that forest. A library, maybe. A bothy, this turned into, like the Scots have, shelters you’d be glad of if you were caught out in the wild. A bothy but for artists not the groundsmen ....
George Mallory might have been the first man to climb Everest. We don’t know but he might have before he died on the mountain. “Because it’s there” is what makes us different from chimps. Now our bothies are done and tenner bets you won’t get to all of them. Going to find one of them is more important than all the reading and looking you can do here.
Get out of the gallery. Art’s not just soft hands."

4 Bothies is a project I came across a little while ago. It is the exact combination of the outdoors and the arts that has me extremely excited, motivated, and inspired each time I read it. 

It is the kind of inspiration that really clicks at the moment. I think I may have been a little apprehensive finishing college this summer - afraid that it would all come to nothing. So I kept my part time job - but decided to also take part in two exhibitions, volunteer for the PhotoIreland Photofestival, and do a CELT course.  

Now that the summer is over and I have sufficiently worn myself out to the point of wanting daily naps, I think I might take some time to decide what happens next. 

"The Library" - Four Bothies

Slightly linked to this idea of the outdoors and space is a blog I read about the most remote place in Ireland. 

I found out about the 4 bothies project from the Irish Times Article from 2013 about the "60 most creative people in Ireland right now". While it's definitely no longer 2013, and I've barely waded through the list, I keep popping back to find another new name to look up. It's nice to read about artists that are where you're from.  

Next up - the best, easy to follow Web Design in 4 Minutes that I've ever seen - and it even looks like it would only take 4 minutes! Beautiful websites for everyone! 

And finally, work by one of my friends from college, Cale Perrin. Technically this is a slightly adapted variation of her work that we used for the poster of a group show we did. It was printed as a blue risograph print and turned out so beautiful. I also really love the combination of photography and sculpture.  Her work, along with many others, has me thinking more about what happens with the image after it is printed.