This research has two major outputs, the Raking History performance (2017) and a subsequently History Table: Elevation (2017), a commissioned public artwork. Raking History was a performance developed specifically for Future Histories, a site-specific performance art event/exhibition within Kilmainham Jail (2016), funded by the Arts Council as a national initiative marking the Easter Rising centenary, curated by Murphy & Phillips (2016). Connolly was one of sixteen invited performance artists asked to propose new performances responding to the “iconic historical association of Kilmainham Jail, with the 1916 Rising”.
Connolly’s research involved a site visit, iterative tests, Museum and jail archive review and key historical texts. It considered several sites within the jail, and archived images as a performative and emotive narrative. This scoped political nationalism, science & astronomy, Zen gardens and rural life. During the six-hour performance he carefully raked the gravel surface of the Exercise Yard, slowly uncovering hidden historical images of the Easter Rising, randomly hidden under the gravel by the event staff, prior to the arrival of the artist. Connolly symbolically weeded the gravel and removed foreign bodies. These items were placed on opposing chairs, the weeds onto one chair and the foreign bodies on another, segregated. He raked increasing circles around each of the water filled drinking glasses. Under each, was a photograph of a prisoner who had been shot at Kilmainham after the 1916 Rising. During the performance the artist taped his own home-grown hazel rods onto the legs of an upturned table, a domestic connection, using politically symbolic coloured tape. At the end of the performance this table was turned upright, elevated with new legs, a new beginning. History Table: Elevation (2017) is a bronze cast replica of the performance prop developed, now preserved as a permanent public artwork, within the heart of community.