The exhibition ’Dispersed Presence’ is a result of‘ Transforming Long Kesh/Maze’, a collaborative social sculpture by artists Martin Krenn and Aisling O’Beirn, exploring the future of the Maze/Long Kesh prison site beyond its current state of limbo. In thinking of the former prison as a dispersed presence the artists focus particularly on archaeologist Laura McAtackney’s concept of the ‘distributed self’ from her key text on the prison, ‘An Archaeology of the Troubles’, (McAtackney, 2014, 244-265). The former prison has both a physical presence and conceptual importance. Indecision about its future at government level says much about the political climate of a ‘post-conflict’ society. Given this, the artists are interested in how one can think beyond the site’s legacy and to its future.
Ongoing dialogue with McAtackney during the course of the research also provided invaluable contacts with many people who had 1st hand experience of the prison allowing the artists to develop their approach. The artists invited individuals and groups, with a first-hand experience of the prison, such as ex-prisoners, former visitors, ex-prison staff and community museums from across the political spectrum to partake in the project. They then worked with those that joined the project, to collaboratively photograph existing prison artefacts or to co-create unique small sculptural objects to reflect their personal experiences of this site. Techniques for creating the new objects include methods traditionally used in making prison art.
Three principal dialogical methods for working with diverse participants were devised specifically for this project: restaging (whilst occasionally repairing), reappropriation and retelling. The aim was to avoid negatively dwelling on the past or the reiteration of previously rehearsed and ideologically overdetermined narratives.
An artist book resulting from this project will be launched in 2018/2019. There is also a set of postcards produced from the project as a touring exhibition which has been shown as part of Peace and Beyond Fringe Arts and as Part of Féile an Phobail. These cards can be shown in various public venues such as libraries and community centres. For further info contact Aisling O’Beirn firstname.lastname@example.org
A TRACES Fanzine (no. 06 ) project has been produced dedicated to the project. Free copies will be available in the gallery.
|Place of Publication||PS² Spencer House, 71 Royal Ave, Belfast BT1 1FE|
|Publication status||Published - 13 Sep 2018|
Aisling O’Beirn, born 1968, is an artist based in Belfast and an Associate
Lecturer in Sculpture at Ulster University. Her work is interdisciplinary and
explores the relationship between politics and place, uncovering the
tensions between disparate forms of official and unofficial information.
She examines space and place as physical structures and political entities
by making and animating forms relating to observed and theoretical
structures being studied by contemporary astronomers and physicists.
Her work also questions how people process and understand both
scientific and political developments. Her work takes various forms,
including sculpture, installation, animations and site-specific projects
depending on the context. Dialogue is key to her practice, which has been
facilitated by Armagh Observatory, Dunsink Observatory and The Centre
for Astronomy NUIG, Galway. O’Beirn has exhibited nationally and
internationally. She was included in Northern Ireland’s first participation
in the 51st Venice Biennale and was shortlisted for the MAC International
prize in 2018. Her work manifests variously as sculpture, installation,
animation and site-specific projects.
Martin Krenn, born 1970, is an artist, artistic researcher and curator who
teaches at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He works with various
types of media, especially text, photography, and video. Most of his work
in public space takes the form of social sculpture. His key area of interest
lies in the strained relationships between art and society. By consistently
expanding the field of art, he tries to initiate discussions about
sociopolitical topics and challenge conventional thinking. His work has
been shown at numerous international exhibitions and festivals. Krenn
holds an M.A. (Mag. art.) from the University of Applied Arts Vienna. In
2011, Krenn received the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Scholarship at the
University of Ulster in Belfast (UK) for his PhD research in the Faculty of
Art, Design and the Built Environment and was awarded a PhD by Ulster
University in 2016. In 2017, Krenn was awarded the Venia Docendi in “Art
and Communication Practices” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
- Contentious Cultural Heritage