'Transforming Long Kesh/Maze' in Contentious Objects/Ashamed Subjects

Aisling O'Beirn (Photographer), Martin Krenn (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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‘Transforming Long Kesh/Maze’ Martin Krenn and Aisling O’Beirn in 


Contentious Objects/Ashamed Subjects:Artistic research methods and strategies regarding images, objects, spaces, and events of contentious cultural heritages 

TRACES Final Exhibition 18 January – 6 February 2019 | Galleria del Progetto, Politecnico di Milano, Milan Curator: Suzana Milevska


‘Transforming Long Kesh/Maze’ is a collaborative social sculpture by artists Martin Krenn and Aisling O’Beirn, exploring the future of the Maze/Long Kesh site beyond its current state of limbo. 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.


Krenn and O’Beirn worked with participants who had 1st 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. The artists worked with them to collaboratively photograph existing prison artefacts or to co-createunique small sculptural objects to reflect their personal experiences of this site. 


Three principal dialogical methods for working with diverseparticipants weredevised specifically for this project: restaging(whilst occasionallyrepairing), reappropriationand retelling. The aim wastoavoid negatively dwelling on the past or the reiteration of previously rehearsed and ideologicallyoverdetermined narratives.


For the exhibition Contentious Objects/Ashamed Subjects, the final event in the TRACES project which Milevska curated to present the research processes employed by the different Creative Co Production teams in TRACES, Krenn & O’Beirn exhibited 32 postcards from their set of 64 cards along with documentation outlining their research process. The Traces Final Conference “Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritages With The Arts” took place in parallel with the exhibition.

As a result of our ongoing dialogues about process and methodologies with the curator Suzana Milevskashe included a discussion of our methodology discussed in “Artistic Research” organised by Michelle Teran (one of the artists included in the project Microhistories) who organised the seminar at Trondheim Academy of Fine Arts, Trondheim, November 26-28, 2011.

The project is part of Traces, a three-year project funded in 2016 by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. Ulster University is a partner in the TRACES project. The published book received funding from theArt and Design Research Unit at Ulster University.. http://www.traces.polimi.it

The views expressed here are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMilan Italy
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

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
  • Long Kesh Maze


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