Landscape legacies: the renegotiation of the Irish west in contemporary visual culture

Kraft, Jeannine
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This thesis examines the cultural legacy of the landscape of the West of Ireland and its lasting impact on the contemporary visualization of the region. Through a critical examination of the historic underpinning and contemporary resonances of the construction of the trope of “the West,” the thesis lays the foundation for the examination of how contemporary artists negotiate this inherited mythos of place in the period 1990-2017, a trope largely constructed through the arenas of culture and tourism in conjunction with the modern Irish state. Tourist imagery and fine art dealing with the landscape of the West of Ireland present two very strong, yet often oppositional, projections of modern Irish identity that inhabit the same cultural space. Through case study analysis in individual chapters, the thesis examines how artists, particularly in the media of fine art photography and socially engaged art practice, renegotiate their engagement with the landscape of the West in a way that mediates between the local and the global, Irish and international arts practices, and in particular, that navigates the politics of representation. While much research in this area has focused on Irish Art History and Tourism Studies, there remains a scholarly gap in critically examining the broader context of visual culture as expressed in Irish tourist imagery and fine arts practice. It is argued here, that the prism of ‘the West’ is essential in understanding the renegotiation of cultural identity through visual culture in twenty-first century Ireland.
NUI Galway
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland