New work by Antonio Filipo, Leilani Kake, Sean Kerrigan, Mele Penitani, Genevieve Pini and Siliga David Setoga at Fresh Gallery Otara | November 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Submarine Part 3: under water

Sub marine simply means under water, well, under and below, beneath etc. The idea of a submarine, and making one in regards to this exhibition is about the dialogue between the culture of Polynesians who still reside in the Islands and the Polynesians who are, for all intents and purposes, New Zealanders who have racial lineage back to those Islands. But before I go into that I'll speak a little about my own racial lineage. My Surname is Irish, as is my given name, and they both have meanings in Gaelic. Sean by itself means old and wise but is usually given specific meaning by the words used with it. Seanicol is the word for story teller so when the word Sean is used it is in association with other words that describe a way of defining the group, as it were, by its learned knowledge being brought into the present. Wisedom.
As regards surnames the Irish pre christians grouped themselves into tribal units and named themselves after Heroes and so the earliest groupings shared some blood, as it were, but this wasn't as important as community and a connection to a specific place. That place is a mountain, next to a river, in County Mayo in the free state of Ireland. The word itself, Kerrigan, has various meanings, again in context with it's use, but the basic meaning is dark and black because the -igan is the defining part and is directly linked to the Norse word meaning the same thing. The Kerr- simply means people of the marshes. A literal translation is the people of the black marshes but Gaelic is not a literal language but suffice to say that the surname defines a tribe with a place.
Okay, with that said I could define myself as Irish, and I used to when I was younger, but given I was born in Canada to parents born in Glasgow, Scotland and Torquay in the South West of England and my links to one male descendant, a great grandfather, born in Ireland means my Irishness is tenuous at best. One 1/16th.
But some things have happened in my life and I've found out a little bit about the Irish and these things have culminated in me knowing, with a certainty felt in my bones, that I am indeed Irish.

These things that happened are personel. They form part of my inner mythology. They may show in the outer world, or the myth that is me reacting and making my life, but they are for me alone because they can only ever mean something to me and I found them and felt the truth of them in that place where we are only ourselves.

So this story kind of illustrates one form of the sub- marine, a beneficial one for me, and it means that the information that came to me "overland", rational and reasoned, didn't have any real relevance until I understood the communications that came to me "underwater". So the underwater could be the sub- conscious directions in our lives. Where an intrinsic genetic memory plays itself out in our actions.

This is a personel interplay between the overland and the underwater, with me in the middle, but what happens in the micro (personel) sense also works in a macro sense. And this is what submarine (finally!) is about in relation to the meat and lollies thing I'm a part of.

So the short answer is that the Islands that spawned a particluar culture still have inhabitants who live that culture and because of the connection unbroken by travel away from those Islands I would think that their personel connections to the reality of that culture would be unthinking and felt subconciously without regard for any conscious appraisal. But the people who are, by migration, disconnected to this living culture may be less subconscious in their outlook and need to find validity in themselves, in feeling they belong, by conscious appraisal of their cultural roots; but from within another and wider cultural setting. Here we get the interplay between a subconscious enactment of culture and a conscious enactment of culture. So the submarine is all about the feedback of people looking for culture and finding it in its prescribed setting and the subconscious interplay from the dispossesed, searching for meaning, back to the possesed, who may already have meaning but because it is subconscious, may even be looking for a new meaning.

So the idea revolves around an Art industry in a consumer society making and defining experts in a field that is artificially created away from its original context and how this new definition of culture finds its way back to its origins and affects those origins. Personelly I don't see that such interplay is a problem at all. It is the growth of culture. The problem, as I see it, is when, as above, the balance between conscious and subconscious is no longer in balance, and too much conscious effort, ie; affirmative action, makes the idea of a thing of more importance than the thing itself.

But really, I'm just going to make a submarine... and cover it with stuff so it looks as if I know what I'm talking about. Do I, who knows? I'm just making it up as I go along.


pconroy said...

A few corrections:

The Irish name "Seán" (pronounced SHAWN) does not mean old, but is derived from the Hebrew name "John" - meaning "God is good". The Irish word "sean" (pronounced SHAN) means old - 2 very different words. Note, there are no letters J or V in the Irish alphabet, so S and BH are used instead.

The Irish last name Kerrigan is not related to the Norse/Scottish name Kerr - which means marsh. Irish Kerrigan is O'Ciaragain in Gaelic, which is derived from the word "ciar", which means black or dark brown, while "-igan" is a diminutive. So the full name means "little black one".

More here:

The Irish for storyteller is "Seanachaí" (pronounced SHA - NA - KEY) and is not related to the name "Seán".

Colour Me Fiji said...

I knew there was a reason Sean Kerrigan was in a show of Pacific Island artists!! He's The Little Black One!! LMAO!

sean kerrigan said...

Hey Mr Conway, It may interest you to know that I was born in Canada where the pronunciation of my name actually is Shan and it's only here, in NZ, and places like England who pronounce it Shawn so even though your semantics are of a truth they still aren't mine. And I was speaking to some Faro (excuse the spelling) Islanders a while back who still speak a Norse dialect and they said that "igan" means black. So who knows what it really means, but the point was made later on in my little essay that that kinda stuff didn't really matter. What matters is feeling something in your bones after having experiences that justify those links.