United Kingdom

Bernadette Keating



Bernadette Keating (b. Dublin 1976, lives in Leipzig) is a visual artist working with photography, video, and text. Her work explores notions of space, place and belonging in urban spaces and border territories, and the sociopolitical forces that shape them. From 2015 to 2018 she completed a postgraduate study in Photography and Media, as Master Student of Prof. Joachim Brohm, at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig. She holds an MA in Documentary Photography from London College of Communication / University of the Arts London, and a BA in European Studies from the University of Limerick.

Her work has been exhibited in various group shows throughout Ireland and the UK. '30 Irish Landscapes', her latest body of work realized in book form, is shortlisted for the 2014 Unseen Dummy Award. Her photographic series ‘Líne’ was recently selected for a group exhibition on contemporary photographic art from the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig. ‘Sitting on the edge’, a two-channel video and sound installation, will be shown later in the year at the Museum of Contemporary Art Magdeburg, in an exhibition celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus.


People Places Prefer

Public space occupies an important ideological position in democratic societies. Creeping privatisation has made the use of such space, that in theory is open and free to all, increasingly conditional. This photographic work, part of a larger series, explores the non-place of privately owned public spaces in the context of London as a global city. The squares depicted in the projected series are all pseudo-public spaces, which are heavily monitored, securitised, sanitised and governed by varying sets of rules. The images were taken with the express permission from various corporate hierarchies, often with conditions attached. Their repeated formal compositions, taken from a street-level perspective and with equal attention given to the paved ground and the buildings opposite, lend the work a uniform rhythm.



As a result of the “Enclosure Movement”, laws enacted from the 18th century onwards, common agricultural rights were abolished and hedgerow borders were created in Ireland, i.e. previously held common land was fenced in by private landlords. The photo series “LÍne“ is the result of a walk along the boundary of a farm in Ireland, where Bernadette Keating grew up, with each scene both atmospherically and conceptually realised. The artist uses elements of the electric fence, now part of the landscape, as an active motif for her image parcour. They are visible as linear disruptions in each individual image, comparable to a triggering stimulus that orients itself in various directions and repeatedly provokes questions: about what constitutes a border, about the relationship between culture and nature, naturally grown and man-made, chaos and order, uncontrolled growth and marking, common land and private property, the holistic and the divided, surface and line. A border is a real or mental line that separates two things from each other. Typically a border works in such a way that at the same time one ends another begins. A border lends contour and shape to the confined. It is clear in Bernadette Keating’s work that the border she places in the image is a construct, something arbitrary that claims differences that do not actually exist. Bernadette Keating both documents and suspends reality in order to realise historical and political ideas of space, place and belonging in urban spaces. This results in a photographic image form that envisions an imagined border according to the law of beauty.


Solo Work

In the photographic series ‘Solo Work’, Bernadette Keating interpreted abstractions of human labour in Oslo’s urban environment, which was subjected to an ongoing process of transformation. Oscillating between realism and abstraction, the black plastic bags, which cover a variety of street signs and lights, are reimagined as the temporary sculptural works of one labourer. Through these photographic observations, with movement and shifting perspectives playing a key role, she draws attention to everyday objects and processes.

The series was selected for European Month of Photography Belin in 2018.


30 Irish Landscapes

Over one weekend in November 2011 a circular concrete structure, similar in scale to Stonehenge, was erected on Achill island, off the west coast of Ireland. It was unauthorised and never fully realised.

This series of images was made in response to this audacious statement and contributes to the debate surrounding the geographical imaginings of Ireland and the Irish.

While borrowing the prescriptive form of Ed Ruscha’s 'Twentysix Gasoline Stations', the title confers on the work pretensions to a definitive series of prized landscapes. Through repetition it invites the viewer to question their understanding of landscape and how photography, charged with political motivations and ideologies, can be used to construct a sense of ‘place’ and national identity.

Each image in the series was framed at eye level, looking outwards from the portals between the columns. The deliberate inclusion of the concrete columns as a framing device provides evidence of the structure and the urbanisation of the landscape. A product of labour and technology, these landscapes reflect the pace of modern life which accelerates the rate of construction and of inevitable destruction. The absence of a visible horizon—a glimpse of the future—challenges us to question what is to come.