CASTLES is the first solo exhibition by Rudolf Samohejl in Ireland. Samohejl’s practice is concerned with access to, and the transformation of, public and shared spaces, both online (virtual) and offline (physical). Data storage and infrastructure have become central to his research, in relation to contemporary and historical contexts. Data centres are physical evidence of our contemporary digital lives, preserving information, transactions and memories. Architecturally, data centres are large fortress-like structures, built to keep intruders out and to protect what’s stored within. With this in mind, Samohejl draws parallels with Norman castles, but also boglands: the former as a symbol of power dominating the surrounding territory; the latter as a natural store within the landscape.
In the exhibition, the artist connects Ireland, France and the Czech Republic through their relationship to landscape and data infrastructure. Using film and sculptural installation, he observes and explores sites (current and future) of data storage. In the Czech Republic, Samohejl focuses on post-glacial geography and the last islands at Šumavské Slatě, recording close-up views of the boglands, likening them to time capsules, preserving organic materials. In France, the artist scopes out the data centre at Gravelines, always from the outside and at an enforced distance, surveying how the architecture imposes itself on the terrain.
In Ireland, Samohejl connects King John’s Castle (built c. 1210) and the site of a future data centre at the Limerick Docks. Both situated on the banks of the River Shannon, these sites face each other; the castle has been used as a press image announcing the proposed development.The artist has created a new film exploring these two distinct but connected sites, from a distance and up close. Taking the River Shannon as a pathway, Samohejl travels along natural and manmade routes noticing the physical data (weathered markings, carved stone, wild growth), and inviting the viewer to observe closely our changing environment.
In Ireland, there are approximately 70 operational data centres accounting for 2% of greenhouse gas emissions and 14% of our electricity use. Our mild climate and largely uneventful weather conditions make Ireland an ideal location for data centres. Not forgetting that we are home to some of world’s largest multi-national tech companies (Meta, Google, Amazon, etc.) and have the second lowest corporation tax rate in Europe.
About the artist:
Rudolf Samohejl is a visual artist based in Belgium and Czech Republic. He graduated from the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague in 2014, and was awarded the Jan Naaijkens Prize in 2015. Recent exhibitions include Les Parallèles du Sud (2020) at Manifesta 13 in Marseille, France; Plane Dreams Shelf (2021) at Gallery Jocelyn Wolff in Paris, France; In Pursuit of the Garden of Interest (2022) at the Botanic Garden in Meise, Belgium; Chateaux d’Europe (2022) at the French Institute in Prague, Czech Republic; Biennale Matter of Art (2022) in Prague, Czech Republic. Samohejl has undertaken residencies at AIR Sandnes in Sandnes, Norway in 2018; Art-Port in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2020; and most recently, Cité Internationale des Art in Paris, France in 2021.
CASTLES is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Limerick City & County Council, and Ministerstvo kultury České republiky (Ministry of Culture, Czech Republic).
 Seán McCárthaigh, “Floating data centre on Shannon gets green light”, Irish Examiner, 5 September 2019, https://www.irishexaminer.com/business/arid-30948544.html (accessed October 2022).
 Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, New Statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy published, 27 July 2022, https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/2f5ee-new-statement-on-the-role-of-data-centres-in-irelands-enterprise-strategy-published/ (accessed October 2022).
 Sean Bray, “Corporate Income Tax Rates in Europe”, Tax Foundation, 22 February 2022, https://taxfoundation.org/corporate-tax-rates-europe-2022/ (accessed October 2022).
InformationCASTLES is a solo exhibition by Rudolf Samohejl curated by Niamh Brown. The exhibition will run from 11 November 2022 to 21 January 2023. We will close to the public on 10 December 2022 and reopen on 11 January 2023.
The artist would like to thank his family, Anezka and Eliáš, Janek Rous, Jonáš Richter, Antonia Stretavska, Lenka Tsykolia, Prochazka Fruhauf and Syn, Pat Lysaght, Tom Treacy and the Shannon Foynes Port Authority, and the team at Ormston House. Image: still from Sensitive Landscape (2022), courtesy of the artist.