In “That The Science of Cartography is Limited,” the speaker laments the failures of the mapmakers
in conveying the human circumstances which carved the lines of the famine roads into Irish topography. By way of background, the famine roads were a series of meaningless, meandering roads that connected nothing to nothing. They were constructed at the peak of the Irish Famine of 1847 and were assigned to Ireland’s poor and starving as tasks for which their relief was contingent. It was a fool’s errand; about a million people died during the famine and many more emigrated to flee starvation. In the poem, the speaker walks to the edge of the cobble where it falls away into the grass, noting that “Where they died, there the road ended.” Her lamentation is that this the mapmaker simply cannot describe in two dimensions the totality of the experience which she imagines to have taken place on the very spot where her feet stand.
#EavanBoland, the poet who penned the work described above, has been on my mind a lot in the last few days. As you can see in my feed, a portion of my work uses photography as a means to explore subjects for which there is no active verb. The #bombshelters and the nuclear silos inhabit places which, when viewed in two dimensions offer only fragments of a story that the imagination must backfill. For me, the exercise of stepping foot in these lost places provides a starting point for understanding the these similarly Sisyphusian enterprises. They are testaments to human folly washed clean by the grass which grows over them.
Pictured here, behind the moving billboards and carefully tucked away under a layer of black paint and cedar plank fencing lies the superstructure for the entrance to the #ClaphamCommons Deep Level (Bomb) Shelter, used during the German #Blitz of #WorldWarII. The site was one of eight constructed during the war which housed thousands of Londoners deep below the level of the Northern subway line during the relentless German bombings. Though their history is fairly well known, the structures themselves have been blurred into the city’s background in the seven decades following the war.