People of the Mud is a powerful new series by Berlin-based US artist Luis Alberto Rodriguez, made collaboratively amongst the communities of County Wexford in Ireland, where ancient tradition and modern life rub shoulders daily.
With a background in professional dance, Rodriguez’s work pays tribute to the metaphorical weight of centuries of physical labour behind cultivating the landscape and maintaining cultural heritage. Images of scarred limbs and hands, from the field and from sport, function as a cartography of these bodies, as culture both shapes and is shaped by the individual. Elsewhere, we see the exaggerated glamour of modern female Irish dancers taken out of the glitzy ballrooms and into the fields, creating a rupture across time and space.
Rodriguez was also struck by the intense physicality of the sport of hurling. Considered to be the fastest sport on grass, while watching slow-motion footage of hurling Rodriguez saw that within seconds the players would go through pushing, shoving, grabbing, hugging, knocking each other down and then lifting one another up. Rodriguez worked with players to reform these gestures: creating sculptures out of bodies, directing and literally layering players upon one another.