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Project Statement

by A. Lovett

I returned to VSW as a resident in February 2003 to produce Pilgrimage. I had been traveling in Europe, where I photographed sites of human conflict or transformation where history and collective memory are formed and preserved. I became interested in the desires that compel us to visit the memorial sites of tragedy and transformation, and the intersecting practices of pilgrimage and tourism. Pilgrimage explores my experience in County Mayo, Ireland, and specifically the time I spent on Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain where St. Patrick meditated for 40 days and 40 nights. The mountain is a traditional Catholic pilgrimage destination, where a hundred thousand pilgrims every year make the challenging climb to the summit, as they have for fifteen hundred years. The surrounding area is rural, with a countryside sprinkled with farms, ancient stone circles and tourist B and B’s. History here is layered with mythology, faith, ancestry and politics, overlaid by the realities of contemporary life and commerce. On the summit there’s a small church dedicated to Patrick. The story goes that he had visions during his vigil on the mountain, fought with demons, and drove the snakes out of Ireland, and though he was not the first Christian in Ireland, he’s generally credited with bringing Christianity to the country. When you get back to the bottom of the mountain, you return to the commercial world, completing the cycle by returning to everyday life. There’s a vistor center where you can buy an “I climbed Croagh Patrick” T-shirt and other souvenirs. And there’s the ubiquitous pub, prepared with kegs for long bouts of celebratory drinking. I was drawn to this place, curious about the intersection of mythology, faith and tourism, and the idea of revelation or renewal through physical ritual and challenge. I was curious... would I feel some kind of holy vibe here? Is there some kind of ancient residue of history and belief in this ground? How much was I influenced by my expectations? How much did what I found result simply from what I hoped to find? Pilgrimage was designed to reflect on these questions. My visual strategy for the book was to create networks of relationship in 3 intersecting texts and overlapping images. The yellow timeline along the bottom relates the history of the mountain from its pre-Christian use as a sacred site to the current day. The larger color texts are excerpted from St. Patrick’s Confessions. The book also describes my personal experience climbing the mountain, and that’s the narrative in the smaller black text. Larger photographs describe the conditions and sights of my climb, while small images depict some of the numerous holy wells, shrines and markers in the local area.


Ann Lovett


Ann Lovett

type: initiating


production: single 2003

Publication Information

publication: 2004-00-00

Aesthetic Profile


autobiography (AAT)
travel literature (AAT)

themes: [Ireland, faith-based journeys]

content form:
documentary (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: Travel, tourism, faith [T. Shaw]

related works: Remains by the artist [T. Shaw]

community: other Visual Studies Workshop [T. Shaw]

note: Worked on during a residency at VSW, Rochester, NY [T. Shaw]

Related Documents

manuscript type: other

location: artist's archive