Since 1999, Farrell has been following the search for the bodies of people

“disappeared” by the Irish Republican Army during the 1970s and early 1980s.

The hunt for the remains of nine missing people commenced after the signing of

the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Though the murders took place in Northern

Ireland, the bodies were buried south of the border in the Republic of Ireland.

Farrell set out not only to document the search, but also to use the project to

meditate on mortality and “our relationship with ‘earth’ as a storehouse of facts,

fictions, and memories.” Innocent Landscapes, a book published in 2001

presented the first fruits of this long-term project.










When a new campaign was launched in 2007 further names were added to the

initial list of nine people. Farrell followed the earthmovers into bogs and walked the

fields and forests fronting possible burial sites – in turn tracing the speed with

which nature had almost erased the previous searchers’ brutal disruptions of bogs,

fields, and forest.

The long-unfolding Disappeared project, now comprising an almost unmanageable

number of photographs, is a case study in slow knowing. During these searches,

Farrell visited the locations on weekends, “following the slow unfolding of each

landscape as I felt compelled to replicate the dedication and repetition of excavation

by a similar photographic act.”



David Farrell is an Irish artist based in Dublin. He has worked independently and on collaborative

projects with Gogo della Luna (Gudòk). He received the European Publishers Award for Photography

in 2001 for his first book ‘Innocent Landscapes’. His second publication, ‘Nè vicino Nè lontano. A Lugo”

(Punctum -Autumn 2007) was a result of a residency project curated by Luca Nostri. In 2014 he

published ‘The Swallowing Tree’, a series of photographs made from 1999-2013 that explored the slow

absorbtion of a religious prayer pinned to the trunk of a siver birch tree at Coghalstown Wood, one of

the sites of the disappeared. David Farrell – Elusive Moments – a documentary by Donald Taylor Black

(Poolbeg Productions) was premiered at the Cork Film Festival 2008 and was broadcast on RTÉ as

part of The Look of the Irish series on Irish photography. He has exhibited nationally and

internationally including: Houston FotoFest Festival Internazionale di Fotografia, Rome, Three

Shadows Gallery, Beijing 2010 and as part of the BRUM collectives’ prize winning curatorial project

Margins at 7th Poznan Photo Biennnial in Poland in 2011 He was awarded the Curtin/O’Donoghue

Photography Award 2012 and 2016. Recent exhibitions include A Name Unmade: Francis Ledwidge

(1887-1917), Solstice Arts Centre, 2017 and Post Picturesque: Photographing Ireland, Carlton

College, Minnesota, USA, 2017 He is currently working on landscape projects in Lido di Ostia, Rome.