Test Site

mná & sons
Bitmap (3)

The film is structured around seasonal changes, documenting evolving plant, bird and insect life, development of built works in progress and
transformation of the site from a state of vacancy
to temporary inhabitation.

This new site-specific 16mm film combines a critical essay response with inserted performative actions.
A Layered
These contrasted visual elements will be
framed within a critical essay film format with
layers of field recordings, vocal loops, acoustic
interventions and where appropriate voiceover.

Aoife Desmond is filming in 16mm, with additional
performance cinematography by Narayan Van Maale
and Denise Woods and sound design by Fiona Sheil.
This layered approach is used to create a film work
which captures abstract and reflective aspects of the
urban research project TEST SITE. 

This film is shot in colour shifting from a muted winter
palette to a vibrant summer palette. Ongoing site
research informs the film’s form. Inclusion of archive
material in the form of photographs, maps and deeds,
details of the site’s accidental plant ecology and the
community of passing birds are crucial parts of the
site’s story.

Image: Cáit Ní Dhuinnín
The Kyrl's Quay sites position within the larger context of Cork's patters of development and vacancy is pivotal to understanding the sites historical significance, current state and future potential.
Image: Cáit Ní Dhuinnín
The city as a living entity is tied to larger economic
and social concerns, which to quote Jane Jacobs
can infuence ‘the death or life’ of a city.

At this current time where a new relationship to
sustainable economy is crucial, the film investigates
the multi-layered ghosts or traumas that can be tied
to a place and seeks to sensitively unravel the recent
and historical archaeology of the site to better
understand its role as a potential signifier for community
led engagement with place.


‘gold woman never
said this would be easy’
‘Mná & Sons’ includes documentation of a series
of new site-responsive performance works by
Aoife Desmond captured on 16mm.

These site-specific performance works informed by the
emerging discipline of ‘performative ecology’ respond to
the ‘island’ site at Kyrl’s Quay. Using gold leaf on the face
and eyelids to create a temporary performative alter ego,
‘gold woman never said this would be easy’ draws on a
shared contemporary discomfort in responding to
ecological and social crisis. 

The performance work seeks to create a cathartic action,
a moment of release for performer and audience which
acknowledges the profound layers of loss in this present
moment in terms of our relationship to cultural, social and
natural heritages.

'gold woman' ritualises this moment of transition and honours a partially imagined hidden archaeology of site.
The significance of performing these works at
key points within the solar and earth calendar;
imbolc (February 1st), spring equinox (March
21st), bealtaine (May 1st) and summer solstice
(June 21st) is pivotal to harness moments of
renewal, increased light, growth and potential.

This performance series responds to both the
tangible and intangible layers that make a site.
Through embodied response using movement and
voice, a more than human engagement with site is
generated. The performances vary from solo works to
larger collective works. Some will be performed only
for film and some to a live audience.

Image: Cáit Ní Dhuinnín


‘from blossom to nothing’
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A contextualised flm programme will
be co-curated by Aoife Desmond + aemi.

This programme will be designed to hold the new film
‘Mná & Sons’ and expand on its themes. It will be
partnered with a filmwork by the English filmmaker
Rosalind Fowler who also works with 16mm and social
ecological themes..

Path (2)


Additional Funding for the development of this new film and performance work has been supported through an Arts Council Visual Arts Bursary and Film Professional Development Award.
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The Film Team

Denise Woods

16mm Cinematography

Narayan Van Maale

16mm Cinematography

Andrew O’Reilly

16mm Cinematography

Fiona Sheil

Sound Design

Michael Higgins


Macha Shewolf


Kanako Haru


Dan Walsh

Performer (Drums)