Artist Clare Langan talks to The Works Presents, May 2022 

What inspires and drives the creative mind? John Kelly returns to RTÉ One with five new episodes of The Works Presents, which explore this very question - his guests include innovative musicians, visually stunning film-makers, well-loved writers, unique composers and performers as well as politically-driven artists - watch now, via RTÉ Player.

In the latest episode, John talks to environmentally aware and visually stunning filmmaker Clare Langan.

Langan is an Irish filmmaker with an international reputation. She has represented Ireland at several Biennales, and her films (and photographs) are held in a number of public and private collections throughout the world - including the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Born in Dublin, she became interested in the moving image while studying at the National College of Art and Design and, later in New York, she became immersed in the experimental film scene while studying at NYU.

Langan's worlds are not only profoundly visual but intensely aural; she has filmed in locations in Ireland, Iceland and Namib Desert and worked with composers and musicians such as the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Linda and Irene Buckley and Hildur Guðnadóttir, and filmed in locations in Ireland, Iceland and Namib Desert.

The Works Presents, RTÉ One. Thursday May 26th @ 11.15 pm - catch up via RTÉ Player.

Artist Clare Langan talks to Luke Clancy, Culture File Weekly, September 2021

    (Transcribed below)

    Luke Clancy: Next on the Culture File Weekly, the world of art film with artist/filmmaker Clare Langan. Langan’s practice for many years is involved turning precious landscapes from the peaks of Skellig Michael to the ashen beaches of Iceland into cinema. For her latest film The Heart of a Tree which premieres this weekend as part of the Light Moves festival in Limerick, she's worked with regular collaborators such as the Oscar nominated cinematographer Robbie Ryan and choreographer Maria Nilsson Waller, in a shoot that brought dancers into a forbidding - perhaps post-apocalyptic Icelandic landscape. She talked to Culture File about the complex art of making films of a world in peril.

    Clare Langan: The Heart of a Tree came from a scientific article that trees by osmosis vibrate every couple of hours. It's a film about the importance of trees, I guess the climate crisis as well and what a world would be like without trees. I think it was around 2015 when I was asked to do a film for Jóhann Jóhannsson, the late Icelandic composer for his Flight from the City, I started working with movements and people then and it sort of opened up a new area for me where I had just been working with landscape before. So, it brought me to dance in a rather roundabout way. It's the same year I started working with Swedish choreographer, Maria Nilsson Waller - it was more like physical performance/dance in the films and being very free and experimental about it. The film we did for that was The Winter of 13 Storms. We shot it down here in Dingle where I’m based and Maria would have experimented a lot with things in the landscape. So, I think we've done about five films since then. The most recent finished one is The Heart of a Tree.

    For this film, I had planned to shoot it in a very forested area. It was a response to the wildfires, which would have started in around 2018 in California. I wanted to make a film about the importance of trees and I know it's an overused saying them being the “lungs of the earth” but, when it came to actually choosing the location, it felt more powerful to shoot it in a” tree-less” place and in a way, to have a look at that and see what that might be like. That was the reason for choosing Iceland for this particular project.

    So with Iceland, I've been going for over 20 years and I know it quite well and it's become hugely touristic since I started going. I have quite a few friends there and one of them, Stefan Arni, he's a filmmaker himself - He had found his place that actually used to be a ski resort. It's almost like an island - it's where the two tectonic plates, the Eurasian and the North American plates meet. It pushed up an island type area in the center of Iceland. It's called the Icelandic Highlands. As I say it used to be a ski resort but it no longer has snow on it in the summer months, which is when it would have been used. So, it had a strange feeling as well being an abandoned ski resort. It had all these endless steps for people to climb to the top of the slopes and back down again. And also, it felt very active volcanically - so even when you were there, you felt these booms coming up through the ground. The performers were pretty much having to crawl down the side of these steps and holding on and it was meant to look like a harsh environment, but it was in fact a harsh environment to work in.

    Luke: Something that's sort of striking is the idea of moving a film crew. I mean, I guess at some point, you're reckoning well, and I have something to say on this question. But am I doing a lot of damage while I'm doing it? How do you weigh up the impact of a shoot like that?

    Clare: Yeah, I mean, this was shot pre-pandemic, so it was shot in 2019. And since then, I've shot another couple of films. One of them last summer within my 5k. So yeah, you are looking at different issues now going forward and travel has become a very complicated thing. I've two films to finish, both of which were shot in Kerry and I was out filming seals and whales yesterday, just off the Blasket Islands.

    I suppose to a certain extent, I'm at the point where I want to finish what I've shot. I want to take a little bit of time to look at that and decide what is the way to go forward because I think the pandemic and climate emergency has made us all think and look at our lives in a particular way. And so yeah, I'm at that point where I'm not quite sure what the next step is. I'm taking all of that on board and seeing what comes from that.

    Artists' Film International 2020
    Whitechapel Gallery, Artist Q&A : Clare Langan: Flight from the City

        Clare Langan in conversation with Heinz Schwerfel, 2020


          Clare Langan, born in 1967 in Dublin, lives in Western Ireland. Selected solo exhibitions: Metropolitan Museum of Photography Tokyo, MoMA, New York, The Rubicon Gallery, Dublin and Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt. Other exhibitions include: Katzen Arts Center, Washington, Magda Danysz, Paris, The National Gallery of Ireland (2019) and Dirimart, Istanbul (2018, Best of KDK). Selected films: The Human Flock (2017), The Winter of 13 Storms (2017), Flight from the City (2015) and The Floating World (2013, KDK 2013).

          Curated by Neva Elliott The Dock Arts Center, Carrick on Shannon: 23 March - 11 May , 2019. Internationally renowned and respected artist film-maker Clare Langan's exhibition at The Dock is curated by Neva Elliot. Elliott is an artist, writer and manager of Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s leading new music group. The exhibition celebrates Clare Langan’s beautiful, haunting visions in video featuring seven of her seminal works.

          Interview with Cristín Leach: Acclaimed artist Clare Langan discusses her work with RTÉ Culture's Cristín Leach, at the opening of her new exhibition in The Dock, Leitrim.

            MAGNETIC EARTH: Joanne Laws Interview with Clare Langan on the themes and influences in her films.


            Clare Langan for KINO DER KUNST: On changing from commercial features to art film - An interview by: Désirée Düdder