These Immovable Walls: Performing Power at Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle has been the seat of power in the city for much of its 800-year history. For two days this summer, Dublin Castle will see performances by seven national and international artists in an exhibition focusing on the theme of power and its relationship to performance. Artists, Carey Young (U.K.), Kate?ina Šedá (CZ), Philip Napier (N.I), Pauline Cummins (IRL), Dominic Thorpe (IRL), Sandra Johnston (N.I.) and Maurice O’Connell (IRL) will perform in a variety of architecturally diverse spaces inside Dublin Castle, some of which are not normally accessible to the public, offering audiences the opportunity to see the best of performance art outside the gallery-based structure. In partnering with Office of Public Works, this series of new performances will interrogate Dublin Castle as a public space. The exhibition will consist of performances that range from short pieces to longer durational works. Artists will engage directly with the site, focusing on the day-to-day activities of the site but also looking back into history to excavate the castle’s rich past.
Carey Young’s new performance involves the reading of a will – an event familiar from cinema or TV soap operas, but which has no basis in reality. Young’s will takes an experimental and playful approach to notions of ownership, legacy, economy and the circulation of objects.
Many of Kate?ina Šedá’s works try to bring large groups closer together (often working with the local residents of her native Brno-LÃsen, Czech Republic). Kate?ina will engage the visitors to Dublin Castle in a collaborative performance, through her peculiar and provocative activities, she will endeavour to awaken permanent changes in their behaviour.
Philip Napier's work will explore cultural identity the strange 'pantomime' of the performance of the State, through a spectacular sculptural intervention on the grounds of Dublin Castle.
Pauline Cummins’ performance The Spy at the Gate looks at the extravagant consumption by the aristocracy in Ireland in the 18th century. It focuses on Emily, Duchess of Leinster (1752-1818). She was the mother of Lord Edward Fitzgerald one of the leaders of the 1798 rebellion. Cummins’ work meditates on the birth of a revolutionary from inside the body of the aristocracy.
Dominic Thorpe will work in what was formerly the ‘Children’s Courts’ in Dublin Castle. His work will make connections between past institutional abuses that were administered in the former courts and abuses that continue to happen in our time; both enabled by cultures of silence in Ireland.
Sandra Johnston will respond to Thatcher’s 1984 stay in Dublin Castle. The work will consider Thatcher's infamous quote “We must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend”, in the context of the castle’s statue of Justice controversially turning her back on the people of Dublin.
Maurice O’Connell will consider the role of the security team of Dublin Castle. As part of his practice O’Connell has qualified in a variety of safety and security related roles: positions of power, control, responsibility and trust in society and the community. His work mischievously deconstructs the verbal & nonverbal language of performing power in everyday transactions.
A seminar will also take place on the 11th of July that will look at the crossover between research into the performance of power in art and society. These Immovable Walls: Performing Power at Dublin Castle is curated by Michelle Browne with thanks to Ciara McKeon, Assistant Curator and produced with the support of The Arts Council of Ireland and The OPW. Michelle Browne is an artist and curator based in Dublin. Much of her work is performance based and she has performed and exhibited both nationally and internationally. Browne has curated OUT OF SITE 2006-2008, Vital Signs 2009, TULCA 2010, Between You and Me and the Four Walls for IETM, Project Arts Centre, 2013