Too Good To Resist

The Year in Protest: Ireland


This blog entry is written by Treasa O’Brien, Director of ‘Too Good to Resist’ – a creative documentary for the post-Tiger generation. She reflects on a year of researching and filming for the documentary and looks toward to progress and inspiration in 2013.

The Irish psyche is a complex beast and we are continuing to get ourselves in knots as we develop the film ‘Too Good to Resist’.  Rather than being too conservative, some people have answered our questioning with the possibility that the Irish still have it too good: “well at least it’s not the 80s”. But emigration and employment figures are rising every day.  Emigration is at ‘famine levels‘ and those in employment are facing more and more cuts and less security.  Neoliberalism hides its real face with social partnership, making a self-censoring culture with a sedated and fearing workforce fumbling in the less greased till.

In the summer, when  travelling the country shooting interviews for our film, the boycott of the household charge was seen by many as the hope and the precursor to a mass movement.  But it has petered out into a more individualist tax avoidance rather than a solidarity-based boycott.  Across Europe on 14 November 2012, workers joined together in solidarity marches, but even the tumbleweed didn’t take to the streets in Ireland that day. The only mass demonstrations seen in Summer were those in support of Sean Quinn and Youth Defence’s pro-life campaign but many creative and active protestors have come out in defense of women’s rights this winter.  The X case has been debated in light of EU legislation and was thrown into high relief with the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar. In the media it is still very much framed in a Catholic discourse with archbishops as spokespeople for women’s rights.  However, legislation has been passed to protect the life of a woman if it is in danger, thought it still does not grant women full rights over their bodies and lives.  Meanwhile, society continues its doublethink avoidance of this issue, partly due to the get-out clause of an ‘English solution to an Irish problem’.

Ideas for change are growing as people wake up to the reality of the have nots and the have yachts.  On 24 November 2012 there was a demonstration in Ireland of thousands who called for a strike at least. This demonstration reflects a shift in attitude, as more and more grassroots are starting to sprout. The Ballyhea community continues its weekly protests to raise awareness of how bondholders have been bailed out – they will be on their 95th protest on Sunday 30 December 2012.  Paula Geraghty continues to document those communities who do resist, no matter how small on her YouTube channel Trade Union TV.  There is more thought to the future, more action in the now, rather than the deer in headlights attitude of the last couple of years.  But it is still not a critical enough mass.

In 2013 we will continue to develop our film exploring Irish attitudes to civil resistance, and the European context.  We are looking for funding to get it made sooner rather than later!  Their hope is that the discourse in it will help understanding and provoke change.  We presented the film’s ideas in progress at The Future State of Ireland conference in London in November 2012 where the present, past and expected state of Ireland and the real meaning of a republic were debated.

What is the social contract for the next generation? What bread and what roses shall we create for ourselves?   Can we reclaim ideas and practices of economy and republicanism in their most true senses:  the first being careful management of resources and the second one being of the people, the public?

And so to leave you with some words from James Connolly which seem just as pertinent for 2013:

“Ireland, as distinct from her people, is nothing to me; and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for “Ireland” and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland — yea, wrought by Irishmen upon Irish men and women, without burning to end it, is, in my opinion, a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how he loves that combination of chemical elements he is pleased to call Ireland”.

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Sarah Browne – Diabolic Loop

Sarah Browne: Diabolic Loop


Artist Sarah Browne,  who presented work at The Future State of Ireland conference as part of collaborative art practice Kennedy Browne, currently has a solo exhibition on at Galway Arts Centre titled Diabolic Loop.  This refers to an economic theory that proposes the model of a negative feedback loop as a way to explain the aggravated relationship between weakened European banks and sovereign states. The works in the exhibition attempt to unpack and make material some of these analogies derived from technological processes.

Sarah Browne’s research-based practice centres on the production, distribution and use of particular objects in different situations and locales. She uses the peculiar status of the art object, and its uncertain purpose, as a hinge to lever discussions about economy, value and politics.

Browne’s approach is rooted in documentary, operating from a principle of ‘critical proximity’ and adopting methods from the social sciences. Flexible in form, the work invokes a variety of problematic documentary strategies, communicating the role of emotion and affect in the development of new forms of social imagination.

Diabolic Loop December 7, 2012–January 27, 2013
Galway Arts Centre 47 Dominick St, Galway, Ireland Hours: Monday–Saturday, 10–6pm

Kennedy Browne – The Myth of the Many and the One

Kennedy Browne: The Myth of the Many and the One


September 6-29th, Stadtgalerie Bern, Switzerland. Vernissage September 6th from 6pm.

Kennedy Browne will present at the Bern Biennale within the exhibition Kopf oder Zahl (Heads or Tails). For this edition, the biennale is themed Kapital and will see a diverse range of artistic responses to the recent  financial crises which have wracked western economies over the last four years.

Kennedy Browne’s work, The Myth of the Many in the One, was produced over the summer on location in Silicon Valley, California. This newly scripted work draws on the genre of the business biography,  attempting to decode the masculinist myth of the visionary leader of  technological progress and his place in our culture. Working on location with a child actor and a voice-over artist, a pre-Silicon Valley  orchard provides a significant mental and emotional backdrop to this  narrative.

Other participating artists in the biennale include Oliver Ressler and Zanny  Begg, Maria Eichhorn, Zachary Formwalt, Christian Jankowski and and  Silke Wagner.

The Myth of the Many in the One, single channel HD video, 19 minutes.

Funded by an Arts Council Project Award and supported by the Kadist Foundation, San Francisco.