Troubling Ireland Think Tank
In 2010, the Danish curatorial collective Kuratorisk Aktion was commissioned by the Fire Station Artists’ Studios in Dublin to frame and convene a think tank for artists and curators in Ireland. Drawing on their expertise and experience in social, political and cultural activism, and in colonialism and postcolonialism, Kuratorisk Aktion conceived the idea of ‘troubling’ Ireland. The think tank provided a critical, aesthetic and discursive platform for socially engaged practitioners in which received notions of Irish identity, history and politics, and Ireland’s relationship to global capitalism, were probed and unravelled. Selected participants were Gareth Kennedy and Sarah Browne (as collaborative partnership Kennedy Browne), Anthony Haughey, Anna Macleod, Augustine O’Donoghue, Susan Thomson and Helen Carey.
Over the course of a year, from September 2010 to May 2011, five meetings were held in cities of social and political significance, north and south of the border: Dublin, Manorhamilton (Co. Leitrim), Belfast and Limerick. In each location, different problematics were engaged: British plantation economy and class relations, Ireland’s and division, the Celtic Tiger boom and bust, and possible paths to a more convivial and equitable future. These meetings comprised presentations, readings, screenings, walks, lectures and discussions, and concluded in summer 2011 with a collective decision to launch a Troubling Ireland Campaign, which consisted of a public poster campaign and website launched in September 2011.
Running from 12th – 23rd September 2011, the poster campaign presented seven posters mounted around Dublin city centre as well as Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Manorhamilton. Each poster was an initial response from the think tank participants to the concept of ‘troubling Ireland’, and invited viewers to also partake in the act of ‘troubling’. The poster campaign was accompanied by the website, which presented the ideas behind each poster and their producers as well as the think tank process. In addition an essay was commissioned by cultural geographer Bryonie Reid which reflected on the think tank process and themes. To coincide with this poster campaign, the think tank organised a Public Hearing in Liberty Hall, Dublin in September 2011, where the think tank posters and processes were discussed.
Troubling Ireland will have another manifestation in Limerick City Gallery, Ireland in November 2013, where all think tank participants and cultural geographer Bryonie Reid will present new work as outcomes of their sustained individual engagements with the theme . This exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks and a publication.
Liz Burns (Fire Station Artists’ Studios; Troubling Ireland Think Tank)
Liz works for the Fire Station Artists’ Studios in Dublin where she curates the visual arts programme. In addition to providing live and work studios for visual artists, a key policy of the Fire Station is to support socially engaged arts practice through a commissioning process. In addition Fire Station promotes critique and debate around this expanding field of arts practice though publications, seminars and its training programme.
Recent commissioned projects include ‘Troubling Ireland ( 2011) a public poster campaign and website that came out of a think tank for Irish artists conceptualised and led by the Danish curatorial collective ‘Kuratorisk Aktion.
Past projects include ‘Two Monuments’ (2009-10) with Polish artist Artur Zmijewski who was invited to develop a project in Dublin exploring Polish Irish relations. An outcome of Zmijewski’s residency in Fire Station was the film Two Monuments, which was exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in Dublin, November 2010. The exhibition was accompanied by the publication The Applied Social Arts edited by Fire Station.
Liz completed her MA in Visual Arts Practices with IADT Dublin 2008/9 and has since been developing an independent curatorial practice. In 2011 she was selected to take part in Independent Curators International’s (ICI) Curatorial Intensive Programme in New York.
Fire Station Artists’ Studios is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland.