LUCK (Detail), Installation view When Things Are Beings, 2022. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.
LUCK (2022) is a film and installation about a cursed egg, revolving around piseógs, an ancient form of Irish folk magick (spelled here with ck to refer distinctly to spiritual magic). Nowadays, piseógs are mostly associated with harmless superstitions such as turning your socks inside out when you are lost to find your way back home, or opening the back door if you hear a knock on the front door, to let the fairies through. Piseógs have a far darker history, however, involving specific types of curses or spells that can cause harm to another person, or steal their luck. This powerful magick was generally cast by breathing intentions into an object that once lived or might have brought forth life. Often, this object would be an egg.
Hannan travelled to Ireland to work on LUCK with Tara Tine, a songstress, storyteller and practitioner of Irish folklore and magick with old knowledge on how to cast piseógs. Together, they designed a piseóg especially for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The curse is now housed in an egg and displayed in the exhibition space. Having carefully transported it from Ireland to the Netherlands in a special flight case, the artist placed the egg in the museum. The details of the piseóg it contains remain ambiguous.
It is vital to this work that the curse is positioned as a poetic intervention rather than purely a bearer of bad intentions. The Irish tradition of piseógs presupposes that incorporating one’s intent into a curse makes it possible to steal luck and prosperity from some other person or place. The piseóg for the Stedelijk Museum was designed to take effect only if the egg containing the curse should break, and concerns the restoration of a kind of natural balance: should the egg break, the Stedelijk’s luck and prosperity will be transferred to those in greater need of it.
Although the installation is accompanied by a film documenting Hannan’s journey for this project, it is the egg itself that forms the center of gravity of this piece. This ethereal object transcends its mundane nature through its transformation into the bearer of an ancient and disappearing Irish tradition. In the video component of the work, Hannan documents the process of creating the piseóg and expands on Irish oral history and other forms of knowledge exchange that do not involve written sources.
Text: Amanda Pinatih and Britte Sloothaak
LUCK, Installation view When Things Are Beings, 2022. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. All Photos: Gert-Jan van Rooij.