Jonathan Cummins (b. 1968, Ireland) graduated in 1998 with an MFA in media art from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he also studied screenwriting.
At EVA International, Cummins presents When I Leave These Landings (2004–09), Go Home (2010–13), and Out the Road (2012–16). These interconnecting film installations trace the impact of militant ideological conviction on the self and family through a series of sustained conversations with a group of IRA anti-Agreement* republican activists and their families. Developed with the participants over twelve years, these significant and sensitive works evolved from Cummins’ work with political prisoners in Portlaoise Prison, a maximum-security prison in County Laois. The conversation begins in prison with When I Leave These Landings. It continues after the men’s release with Go Home, and extends to include the men’s families in Out the Road.
The works offer an intimate examination of political violence, imprisonment, failure, and the impact of ideological conviction. They refuse familiar tropes of propaganda, sentimentalism, ideological certainty, and knee-jerk de-legitimation for either personal or political reasons, instead probing these difficult territories with those involved in paramilitary organizations and highlighting the effect of that involvement on both themselves and their families. Part of this process also involves reflecting upon ageing and the self-questioning that accompanies this. The far-reaching impact on family also reveals the complex and sometimes tragic nature of the love of families, who are often invisible in debates about political violence and imprisonment. Moving between the time in prison and that time of transition shortly after release, the films ask us to grapple with a difficult present and our relationship with our collective past, and to wonder about our future together.
* Good Friday Agreement/Belfast Agreement, 1998