Bound Words – Stolen Honey is a multifaceted work focused on territory, translation and displacement that was initially produced for Tallentire’s Masters show in 1988, restaged for TATE Liverpool in 2014, and now revisited for TULCA in 2020. The title refers to the Brehon bee laws, Bechbretha, which stated that if bees strayed into a neighbour’s territory, then the beekeeper was still entitled to the honey made by that bee. Tallentire works with fragments of documentation and some of the remaindered materials that comprised the original presentation: handmade wallpaper depicting a pattern based upon an image of book spines in Senate House Library, London; a book that included transcripts of the Brehon Laws, in triplicate translations of old Irish, modern Irish and English languages; a short text from ‘The Life of Bees’ by Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck. This revisitation in 2020 has been developed in Tallentire’s London studio, and is being presented in Ireland rather than the UK for the first time. The work studiously avoids any nostalgia for a precolonial, nativist past—using the camera lens as a reflective and refractive mechanism, folding together multiple territories and sounds, including a female voice and a buzzing bee. The oblivious bee might not recognise the (human) legal apparatus even while he is supposedly subject to it.
Installation Photo © Hilary Knox