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Bēhance

Irish Museum of Modern Art

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  • Creating the Common
    A Brief History
  • We designed a freestanding structure to display photographic portraits by seanandyvette.com as part of a collaborative project with artist Clodagh Emoe in June 2010 and then reused this structure in collaboration with art collective Syntheastwood as part of the international design festival OFFSET (where is was known as ‘the Hippo’) in October 2010. Finally we re-installed the structure in the foyer IMMA in December 2010, as a “screening room” where it housed both the portraits and The Unveiling, a film produced by Thomas McGraw Lewis as part of the collaborative project).

    The Full Story...

    Our involvement in This Dublin City Council commission for the Memorial Court Housing Scheme, Dublin 8 began as one element of a competition entry. The overall concept for this project devised by the artist Clodagh Emoe. In her own words she saw the event: “as an artistic medium to explore and engage with the notion of community through collective engagement. Rather than proposing a sculptural form for the garden, Creating the Common proposed the collective formulation of a theatrical performance for the site”.

    Clodagh’s concept was to involve a performance located in and for the residents of Memorial Court Housing Trust, 3 blocks of sheltered housing arranged in a U shape and opening out to the south. Our part was to propose a structure for the stage which was designed to work with the existing architecture of Memorial Court, transforming it into a theatre/auditorium; the garden was transformed to become the parterre and the surrounding balconies becoming theatre boxes and ‘the gods’.

    Clodagh won the competition and we were formally engaged to design the stage. As the project evolved so viewing hoods were added, these were lightweight sunshades fixed to wrap existing windows and external doors so that images & video could be rear projected against them and viewed from outside in daylight.
    The 3 seat cinema is a structure we designed and built in response to changing site conditions during production. The original site was an apartment complex in Kilmainham and the project included showing some video footage of the construction of the apartments taken by one of its current residents. At the eleventh hour the apartment proposed for showing the video became unavailable and we devised this independent structure to house the portrait video work.

    A play, which was the nucleus of the event, was written by the residents in collaboration with creative writer, Colin Carters, and scriptwriter, Sean Moffat, entitled ‘The Unveiling’, it was performed on the evening 19th June 2010.

    Subsequent to The Unveiling we were invited by the Offset Festival to collaborate with Syntheastwood to provide an interactive art project for the foyer of the Grand Canal Theatre. The structure was adapted for both video recording and projecting and got a makeover with paint and applied decals. Through the 3 days of OFFSET the Hippo (as it became known) acted as social artistic hub for Syntheaswood inspired happenings. They’ve a video of the process due out shortly here.

    Finally in December we rejoined with Clodagh and re-installed the ‘screening room’ to display this collaborative project through video and portraiture in the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
    It’s important to say that we designed the project with a view to building it ourselves due to budgetary constraints. We’re not the best builders we know and though we continuously work in new mediums in our self-directed builds we’re still far from the complete package. We’re reminded of John Lennon who, when asked if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, replied “he’s not even the beast drummer in the band”.

    We’re grateful to a number of people in the realization of the many stages of this project;

    Clodagh Emoe – One of Dublin’s best kept secrets, brought us in from the beginning. We’re extremely grateful. She has no website which is a shame, we’d love you to see her work.
    Cillian Johnson Joinery – those 14 degree cuts would have been impossible without him.
    David Burke – the strong arm of Burke helped us put together the first show together.
    OFFSET – we were/are relative unknowns to these guys and they took a leap of faith encouraging us to turn the foyer of Libeskinds Grand Canal theatre into a building site! (thanks Peter, Bren & Richard)
    Syntheastwood – fun collaboration, they all got stuck in, a pleasure
    Daniel Carvill – essential extra hands on the IMMA installation
    The Technical Staff at IMMA

    We’ll leave you with the opening lines of the play to give you a taste of the Moffat/Carters/Memorial Housing residents play;

    Ladies and Gentlemen, friends, family, relatives, close acquaintances, those who are near and dear to us …
    And those we hardly know from Adam.
    One and all, we would like to welcome you to this evening’s Memorial Buildings unveiling of our new sculptor ‘The Great Dove of Peace!’
    (Short burst of music/a song?, some visual effect?)
    Thank you very much for taking the time…
    And the trouble…
    To come here and share this… this celebration with us.
    This inauguration.
    This artistic commemoration.
    You might say… memorialization.
    If there is such a word.
    Thank you.
    And those of you who didn’t come here… because you couldn’t, because you were already here… because you live here…
    You know who you are.
    Thank you as well.
    Yes, we want to thank everybody who helped to make our Great Dove of Peace a reality.
    We want to thank the whole world in fact.
    But especially ourselves.
    That’s right. Without whom none of this would have been possible.
    Thank you.
    No thank you.
    No, I insist.
    No, I insist.

    ……

    THE UNVEILING, 19th June 2010
  • photograph by peter o'dwyer