artist talks

Eimear Walshe, The Land Question: Where the fuck am I supposed to have sex? (2021)

July 23, 2021

History, says Eimear Walshe, with a look that could kill, is interesting. And the history of Ireland, related in her film, is a sorry one in which the poorest have always suffered the worst.

So once, as landlords expanded their estates, you had the eviction of tenant farmers in Ireland’s west, you now have 10,000 people across the land in emergency accommodation.

These people have problems, one of which is finding a safe place to have sex. What do you mean you don’t think homeless people have a right to an active sex life!?

Walshe states she owns a car and a van. But she’s of the generation who face having to rent for the rest of their lives. And this film is the most fierce millennial protest I have seen.

But it is also very funny. As the film’s title might imply, the history lesson is never boring, thanks to props, interstitial titles, music and edits which allow the artist to interact with herself.

Walshe’s persona is by turns didactic, sardonic, witty incredulous and, obviously, profane. She speculates about the legal risks of sex outdoors and then cradles and comforts a map of Ireland.

It’s a 40 minute talk, which introduces a cast of characters who include rapist earls, fenian priests, Irish reformers and their more radical wives, and nuns who flout planning restrictions.

This being rural Ireland, we also encounter cattle in a field, sheep perched on walls and a famous racehorse who enters the picture having assumed the most unlikely of roles.

I come away from this film with the sad realisation that, unless you are a global corporation looking for a tax break, Ireland remains a difficult place to grow and thrive.

A film like this frames the problem, digs up the roots of it, and ultimately proposes a wild solution that brings the house down, wherever you manage to live during late capitalism.

The Land Question: Where the fuck am I supposed to have sex? Is at EVA International, in and around Limerick, until August 22.

1 Comment

  • Reply Jay Clifton July 24, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Serious problems, like the problem of having a home, often become more interesting to people not directly involved when they are presented in an amusing way. I think another aspect to consider is a lot of people who are not homeless, but live in a compromised way, such as sharing a house or flat with strangers, which cramps their style in terms of a personal life- especially in terms of having a sex life. Though the general rule in shared living arrangements seems to be, “yes, you can have” someone over””, the reality is it tends to stir unrest in a household- envy, annoyance or contempt. This is the reality for a lot of young people, and even older people, these days, condemned by the inequality between wages and the cost of living in Emerald Isles. A first rate, pithy article, Mark, thanks for writing it.

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