Borders, Residencies, and the Migratory Bodies of Dance

Panel at European DanceHouse Network Atelier, ‘Who am I? An exploration of how artistic identity is maintained in a nomadic life’ (left to right Mary Brady, Gerry Kearns, Alexandra Waierstall, Maria Nilsson Waller). Photo courtesy of European DanceHouse

These are some remarks from a panel at the European DanceHouse Network Atelier, ‘Who am I? An exploration of how artistic identity is maintained in a nomadic life.’ The two day event was held at the DanceHouse Dublin, 11-12 December and featured performances and discussions. For most contemporary dancers, sustaining their practice involves continual mobility punctuated perhaps by residencies of weeks, months, or in some very rare cases, years. The panel for which I prepared these remarks came at the close of the meeting and I was responding to the discussions over the previous two days and to a specific request that I consider the idea of borders, crossing-borders, in-between spaces, and the notion of residency in this migratory context.

After yesterday’s panel that focused upon identity and the migratory dance body, Mary Brady has suggested that we use today to think a little more about the notion of borders and residencies. Clearly, this is central to the European DanceHouse Network Project but it also raises broader issues about those power geometries that Karen Till referred to yesterday. [1]

Borders Make Bodies Visible

These power geometries mean that borders make bodies visible. The body must be presented at the border – indeed in France the Muslim face must be unveiled for intrusive and humiliating inspection. [2] Borders also mark the beginning of the spaces in which our body may be out of place, a foreign body carrying a range of derogatory insinuations. Geographers talk about territoriality as the form of control that is exercised through space. [3] People are controlled by marking spaces and associating restrictions with those spaces and their borders. Under apartheid, for example, people of colour were excluded from a right of residence in certain districts within cities and many were nominally assigned to reservations, or homelands. [4] Similarly in some of the southern states within the USA there were so-called sundown towns where at sundown by curfew black people were prohibited from certain streets, neighbourhoods or even all public spaces. [5] Of course these examples of borders and visibility rely upon racial marking but there are other markings, as with the yellow stars that Jewish people had to wear in 15th century Venice. [6] They were also subject to curfew and had to return to the getto by nightfall. In Ireland, this marking of bodies was part of the way English colonialism tried to prevent the assimilation of the Anglo-Irish with the Celts. For example, by The Statutes of Kilkenny of 1367, the English were prohibited from wearing their hair in the local style, or dressing in the local style. [7] The bodies of the English were also disciplined in a particular way with the English farmers required to practice archery, and the wealthier English required to equip themselves with sword and horse. The English, then, would comport themselves differently. Dance has its part in this history. Irish dance was suppressed and although, as with other aspects of Irish culture it survived in peripatetic form these dance forms were infused with continental European forms, by way of the English country house. The dancing masters of the eighteenth century, then, were a hybrid and evidence of precisely the sort of cultural promiscuity the penal laws were intended to prevent. [8] Of course, with the project of de-Anglicising Ireland from the late nineteenth century, this hybridity was attacked from the other side, as evidence of a failing of Irish cultural energy and distinctiveness. [9] Yet, in a colonial act of mimicry the Irish aimed at the very respectability the English presented as a mark of English superiority over the Irish. [10]


Roots and Routes

This experience of being out-of-place and of being the object of special attention once one has crossed a border, may well, as Philip Connaughton, remarked yesterday, encourage one to reflect upon previously taken-for-granted aspects of behavior or identity. However, lest we imagine that the identity is fixed and that crossing borders merely reveals it, I think we should entertain the possibility that in crossing a border we bear the mark of our trail, that is, in Paul Gilroy’s terms, we have routes and not just roots. [11] One might be an Irish resident from England, which is not the same as being English or, indeed, Irish. Again, dance is a relevant context to think about these things. As Sibéal Davitt and Kristyn Fontanella showed us yesterday, in their performance of “As We Know It,” rhythm and gestures are infectious and various dance forms can make space to flatter with imitation and incorporation. The dance forms that were policed into shape as competition dancing went on their travels and their centre of gravity is now probably among the Irish-Americans of the United States and Canada. [12] Again, these are people for whom roots and routes are important. The dance form had to accommodate the aspirations of the parents of these children and thus the paraphernalia of the child beauty queen, with its elebaorate costumes and ringlet hair reshaped the dance form [13] as also did the infectious rhythm of African-American tap in a hybrid context of mutual learning. [14] Competition dance is a diasporic form and alerts us to the cultural accretion and renegotiation that is part of crossing borders with bodies and of having bodies that make corporeal our routes.


The World is Already Here

Finally, we might think about borders and residencies. The European project enjoins a certain sort of mobility but this might also serve to hypostasise national identities and then mix these thin versions together as a rather weak alphabet soup. [15] Thinking about residence might sensitise us to this a little more. As Fearghus Ó Conchúir said yesterday, the body that travels needs care. Dancehouses must try to tend to the full set of emotional and corporeal needs of the body out of place, must host the migratory body. However, dance culture must also acknowledge the diversity of cultures among the other residents of the dance cities. It might be a useful part of such residencies to reach out to these other dance cultures and while I know that Dancehouse Ireland does indeed serve the needs of diverse dance communities, I wonder if those dance communities are part of the residency experience of the contemporary dance-artist. The reason for raising this question about diversity and residency is that we must avoid living as a tourist who only encounters the world through travel. [16] Instead, we must understand that the world is already here, as co-residents and extensive responsibilities for distant strangers. [17] If we can explore that local engagement with the global we might cultivate a confident cosmopolitanism that can engage with the wider world as an Irish citizen of the world. A particular kaleidoscope of intermingling traditions gives this cosmopolitanism its local colour, and one that without chauvinism we might take as a sort of ironic nationalism. It might be that this, rather, than a thin version of Euro-dance, better suits our local and distant obligations and even our creative opportunities.

Gerry Kearns, 18 December 2015

[1] The notion of power geometry is set out in Doreen Massey, ‘A global sense of place,’ Marxism Today (June 1991) 24-29.

[2] Joan Wallach Scott, ‘France’s ban on the Islamic veil has little to do with female emancipation,’ Guardian (26 August 2010).

[3] Robert D. Sack, ‘Human Territoriality: A Theory,’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers 73:1 (1983) 55-74.

[4] Jenny Robinson, ‘The Geopolitics of South African Cities: States, Citizens, Territory,’ African Studies Seminar Paper 295 (University of Witwatersrand, July 1991).

[5] James Louwen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism; website accessed 12 December 2015.

[6] Richard Sennett, Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilisation (New York: Norton, 1994), ch. 7: Fear of Touching: The Jewish Ghetto in Renaissance Venice.

[7] A Statute of the Fortieth Year of King Edward III., enacted in a parliament held in Kilkenny, A.D. 1367, before Lionel Duke of Clarence, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

[8] ‘Irish County Dance Collections, 1790s,’ Irish Traditional Music Archive (2009).

[9] Helen Brennan, ‘Reinventing Tradition: The Boundaries of Irish Dance,’ History Ireland 2:2 (Summer 1994).

[10] On mimicry, see: Homi Bhabha, ‘Of mimicry and man: The ambivalence of colonial discourse,’ in idemThe Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994) 121-131. For a discussion of an Irish writer who identified this problem at the time, see: David Lloyd, Nationalism and Minor Literature: James Clarence Mangan and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism (Berkeley CA: California University Press, 1987).

[11] Chris Lebron, ‘Between Roots and Routes: On Paul Gilroy’s “The Black Atlantic” – draft for Oxford Handbook for Contemporary Classics in Political Theory,’ (n.d.) available at:

[12] Gisele O’Connell, ‘Performing the Nation-State: Political Geographies of Irish Step Dance,’ Geographical Turn (15 December 2015).

[13] For a critical response to this, see: Cahir O’Doherty, ‘Why Irish dancing has lost its way and needs to change,’ Irish Central (25 September 2015).

[14] Ron, ‘Tap-Dancing vs. Irish Dancing,’ U.S. Slave (14 December 2011). The hybrid forms of Irish-American and African-American culture are the focus of Larry Kirwan‘s musical, Hard Times, about Stephen Foster and his time in the Five Points of New York.

[15] On the labour mobility policies of the European Union, see: Sara Riso, Johan Ernest Olivier Secher, and Tine Andersen, Labour Mobility in the EU: Recent Trends and Policies (Dublin: European Monitoring Centre on Change, 2014).

[16] Zygmunt Bauman, ‘Tourists and Vagabonds. Heroes and Victims of Postmodernity,’ Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna. Political Science Series No. 30 (Vienna: Institut für Höhere Studien, 1996).

[17] Stuart Corbridge, ‘Marxism, Modernities, and Moralities: Development Praxis and the Claims of Distant Strangers, Environment and Planning D. Society and Space 11:4 (1993) 449-472.

Guest Blog 5. Dorothy Smith, Reimagining Phibsborough

Dorothy Smith is an artist whose practise is concerned with the built environments in which people live and work and in particular with the built environment of public space. Her practise involves studio-based work and many publicly engaged projects. She is a founding member of Reimagining Phibsborough. She holds an MA in Visual Arts Practices from IADT Dun Laoghaire and a degree in Fine Art Painting from the National College of Art and Design. Her work is exhibited widely and held in many public and private collections.

This is the text of a paper delivered to Landscape Alliance Ireland, National Landscape Forum 2015, Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, 25 June 2015

[T]here are fundamental functions of which the city forms may be expressive: circulation, major land-uses, key focal points. The common hopes and pleasures, the sense of community may be made flesh. Above all, if the environment is visibly organized and sharply identified, then the citizen can inform it with his own meaning and connections. Then it will become a true place, remarkable and unmistakable.
Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 1960) 91-2.

Figure 1. Traffic island, Phibsborough, Dublin
Figure 1. Traffic island, Phibsborough, Dublin

The urban environment which is the subject of this paper is the ‘village’ of Phibsborough on the north side of Dublin city. Phibsborough, developed in the late 19th and early 20th century, has a predominantly late Victorian and Edwardian building stock , a commercial core centred around ‘Doyles Corner,’ a busy crossroads, and is surrounded by compact residential streets; it lies on the city side of the Royal Canal and is within easy walking distance of Dublin City Centre.

The latter half of the 20th century was not kind to Phibsborough. A once vibrant community has been eroded. Portions of its Victorian and Edwardian building stock were torn down to make way for modernist large-scale building and smaller scale infill. Its originally favourable location on the junction of two significant routes into the city has resulted in the steady increase in motor traffic to the extent that all functions of the ‘village’ are now subservient to that of keeping the traffic moving with scant regard to the effect of this on the lives of those that live or work in the area.

The steady and unrelenting social, material and economic decline of Phibsborough has been of increasing concern to residents. Over the last 10 to 15 years much energy has been given to negotiating with relevant authorities. This resulted in the publication by Dublin City Council who, in consultation with residents, developed the ambitious Phibsborough and Mountjoy Local Area Plan (LAP) in 2008. Despite the expenditure of energy and much optimism the LAP proved to be singularly ineffectual in achieving anything for Phibsborough; this was laid firmly at the door of the recession and is keenly felt locally.

In the context of such disappointment with official channels a number of residents proposed to take matters into their own hands. Thus Phizzfest – Phibsborough Community and Arts Festival – held its first festival in September 2010. In its six festivals to date Phizzfest has been hugely successful in harnessing the latent creative potential of the resident community and it’s challenging built environment. The festival has challenged stereotypes, generated much social capital and built strong connections throughout a disparate community.

The social capital generated through Phizzfest has led to a number of initiatives that are tackling the decline of Phibsborough. The first of these was the public art project Put Yourself in the Picture which put the focus directly on peoples experience of the built environment.

Put Yourself in the Picture

For Phizzfest 2014 I devised and ran Put Yourself in the Picture, which aimed to address the democratic deficit with regard to the built environment of Phibsborough. Built public space forms the backdrop to much of our lives; good design and infrastructure being enabling and empowering, individually and communally, poor quality infrastructure and exclusionary design severely limiting potential and opportunities for all. The people who live and work in any given geographical area seldom have the opportunity or forum to give voice to their ideas on how to make the built environment work better for them. Put Yourself in the Picture created this forum and invited people to articulate their reading of their local landscape.

Figure 2. Put Yourself in the Picture: Computers Unlimited, Phibsborough Rd, May 2014
Figure 2. Put Yourself in the Picture: Computers Unlimited, Phibsborough Rd, May 2014

Put Yourself in the Picture invited residents, workers and passers-through to identify changes they would like to see happen in Phibsborough. People were invited to take a photo of themselves in that place in Phibsborough that they wanted to see changed, to identify why they want it changed and tell us what change they would like to see.

All responses were displayed in a public place during Phizzfest 2014 and made available on A public meeting, ‘We Need to Talk About Phibsborough,’ was held in May 2014, a book produced, and an analysis made of the concerns and themes voiced. For detailed information on all ideas and analysis on concerns raised please see the website above.


Two overriding themes were apparent in the ideas submitted and it was interesting how these ideas and themes reflect the analysis of Kevin Lynch from decades earlier.

  • People often do not feel safe negotiating their way around Phibsborough, either as a pedestrian or a cyclist. The dominance of motor traffic, the narrowness of the footpaths at a number dangerous pinch points, the difficulty in crossing the roads, of circulating, of moving from place to place, the total absence of cycling infrastructure all contribute to creating an urban environment that is hostile to a sense of community, to becoming ‘a true place,’ in Lynch’s terms.
  • There is a huge desire for more public spaces both indoor and outdoor, people want spaces where, to again quote Lynch, ‘[t]he common hopes and pleasures, the sense of community may be made flesh’; e.g. cycle routes, restaurants, pocket parks, community gardens, recreational facilities, arts spaces, community centre – people want to engage in public life but the infrastructure and facilities to support this do not exist in Phibsborough.
Figure 3. Vacant site on Phibsborough Rd; 'It looks ugly. I would like a park or a sweet shop here.'
Figure 3. Vacant site on Phibsborough Rd; ‘It looks ugly. I would like a park or a sweet shop here.’
Figure 4. Access to Royal Canal Bank; 'The only way to access the lovely walk into the city centre via the Royal Canal Way is by descending a set of stone steps from the North Circular Rd, which is okay if you are an able-bodied pedestrian but not if you have mobility problems or have a bike or buggy. Replace the steps with a ramp and place a rubbish bin nearby to help keep the area clean.'
Figure 4. Access to Royal Canal Bank; ‘The only way to access the lovely walk into the city centre via the Royal Canal Way is by descending a set of stone steps from the North Circular Rd, which is okay if you are an able-bodied pedestrian but not if you have mobility problems or have a bike or buggy. Replace the steps with a ramp and place a rubbish bin nearby to help keep the area clean.’
Figure 5. Phibsborough Shopping Centre; 'Bikes are not allocated enough parking space. I would like to see Phibsboro Shopping Centre and the village become a safer place for cyclists in general. We need clearly defined cycle paths, not as part of car and bus lanes, and lots of cycle parking bays.'
Figure 5. Phibsborough Shopping Centre; ‘Bikes are not allocated enough parking space. I would like to see Phibsboro Shopping Centre and the village become a safer place for cyclists in general. We need clearly defined cycle paths, not as part of car and bus lanes, and lots of cycle parking bays.’

Reimagining Phibsborough

Reimagining Phibsborough was formed in May 2014 as a direct result of the discussions resulting from Put Yourself in the Picture and the public meeting We Need to Talk About Phibsborough. Reimagining Phibsborough wants to bring the voices of the people who live and work in the area into to the public realm, to address the continuing decline of Phibsborough and to campaign for the creation of a people-centred urban space through design and infrastructural change.

Since December 2014 Reimagining Phibsborough have:

  • undertaken a survey of the breaking of the pedestrian traffic lights at Doyles Corner crossroads
  • collected over 1000 signatures in support of our campaign
  • received letters of support from all local institutions, schools, hospital, businesses, community organisations, churches etc.
  • organised a public meeting with Frank McDonald, journalist and environmental campaigner. There was huge interest in this meeting and it was oversubscribed.
  • made presentations to and had two meetings with the Minister of Transport in his Dáil office also attended by Dublin City Council (DCC) officials and senior Gardaí
  •  brought DCC senior engineers on a walk-through of Phibsborough pedestrian realm
  • established a social media presence
  • undertaken a vigorous campaign to have Dublin Bikes extended to Phibsborough
Figure 6. Audience at Frank McDonald public lecture; All Saints Hall, Phibsborough, March 2015
Figure 6. Audience at Frank McDonald public lecture; All Saints Hall, Phibsborough, March 2015

Very early in our existence Reimagining Phibsborough became aware of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTS) publication The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS). DMURS is full of great design ideas for improving the public realm; it outlines the importance of street design in modifying driver behavior, e.g.: the adjustment of carriageway widths and sight lines can reduce traffic speed; the importance of creating a ‘sense of place’ when entering a village; the importance of making local trips more attractive and viable; reversing the hierarchy of motor-traffic/cyclist/pedestrian. These and many more recommendations contained in DMURS add up to an increased sense of ownership and use of public space with ensuing social and economic benefits. Reimagining Phibsborough is simply calling on the Minister for Transport to apply the recommendations contained in his own policy document to Phibsborough.

Contra-flow Cycling

While a commitment has been made by the Minister to review Reimagining Phibsborough’s demands as part of a Quality Bus Corridor (QBC) review in early 2016, to date there has been one material change.

Figure 7. Leinster Street contra-flow for cyclists
Figure 7. Leinster Street contra-flow for cyclists

Leinster St. is a one-way street that leads directly from the busy Phibsborough Road to a large residential area. It is used by many cyclists to access areas to the north, (eg Glasnevin, Drumcondra) areas which contain many schools, as the alternative route is three times longer and is on busy roads with no room or facilities for cyclists. Until recently all cyclists were breaking the law by cycling down this one way street. Reimagining Phibsborough in its submission and walk through of Phibsborough with DCC officials pointed out this usage and the fact that this usage was unlikely to change. Contra-flow cycle signs and road marking were installed a number of weeks later. It is now legal for cyclists to use this route in both directions. Cars and cyclists have to negotiate the use of this space and cyclists no longer have to apologise to oncoming traffic. This contra-flow has improved circulation for cyclists and given a sense of shared ownership and ease of movement. It is a small but significant improvement.

A Place

At the time of writing the Phibsborough Mountjoy Local Area Plan 2015 has gone through the public consultation process. Many additional motions have been made by the community. We hope these will be included when the LAP is formally adopted by DCC. Phibsborough Shopping Centre, which is in NAMA is being put up for sale and Dublin City Council has purchased Dalymount Park, home of Bohemian Football Club. This huge redeployment of ownership and usage of space needs to address the needs of the local community as articulated in Put Yourself in the Picture and as supported in DMURS. Reimagining Phibsborough is currently in negotiation with the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland and DCC with regard to carrying out a Design Review of the Shopping Centre and its public spaces. It is essential that the local reading of the landscape by the people with the embedded knowledge is harnessed and feed into the future development of Phibsborough. Phibsborough can become a place that is attractive and vibrant, a place that, by design encourages social interaction and local economic activity, a place for the community, a place you want to be in.

[T]he design of safer, more attractive and vibrant streets will benefit everyone by generating and sustaining communities and neighbourhoods, with wide ranging economic, social and environmental consequences.
Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DTTS, 2013).

Dorothy Smith, Artist, November 2015,

Guest Blog 4. Fearghus Ó Conchúir responds to The Geographical Turn event

Because of my travel plans, I didn’t get to contribute as planned to the final panel at the end of the symposium today, so I’m using the plane journey back to London to share a few un-annotated thoughts that I might have aired in the darkening fug and foisty intimacy of intellectual enlightenment at the top of The Gallery of Photography.

Derrida’s work on hospitality was a productive reference point for me. Of Hospitality builds on, but also challenges Lévinas’ vision of an absolute ethical hospitality that requires:

[T]hat I open up my home and that I give not only to the foreigner (provided with a family name, with the social status of being a foreigner, etc.), but to the absolute, unknown, anonymous other, and that I give place to them, that I let them come, that I let them arrive, and take place in the place I offer them, without asking of them either reciprocity (entering into a pact) or even their name.

However, for Derrida, hospitality is only effective if it is offered to particular people and not to a generic idea of the other. This is not an interrogation of the visiting stranger that requests proper documents and authorised leave to stay that one finds in Kant’s version of hospitality.   Instead it is a request that names in a spirit of love that acknowledges the individuality of the visitor:

Does hospitality consist in interrogating the new arrival? Does it begin with the question addressed to the newcomer (which seems very human and sometimes loving, assuming that hospitality should be linked to love—an enigma that we will leave in reserve for the moment): what is your name? tell me your name, what should I call you, I who am calling on you, I who want to call you by your name? -What am I going to call you? It is also what we sometimes tenderly ask children and those we love.

The reference to Derrida came up in relation to Zoe O’Reilly and Anthony Haughey’s work with people in direct provision centres. While a viewer of their work might encounter generalised or, in the case of Zoe’s photography, necessarily anonymised ‘others’, it was clear that both of them had long-term relationships with the particular, named individuals who collaborated in the making of that work. The relationships of hospitality in the work were to specific people. I noted also that Anú’s performers often learn the names of the audience so that they can be addressed and implicated individually. And when Marisa Denker and Naomi Murphy of Join the Dots recounted the successes of their project, (based on the hospitality of discussions over shared food), it was the first names of people who’d connected that they listed.

However Derrida’s deconstruction of the concept of hospitality also offered me a way to think about some of the discomfort I was feeling about a potentially predominant characterisation of the socially-engaged artist as facilitator. For Derrida, the notion of hospitality already implies that the host has power over a territory or home into which to welcome the other. There is a territorial border that is already implied in and necessary to hospitality. The border separates self and other, and, as Étienne Balibar points out, the border is instituted by the arrival of the stranger whose crossing makes the border apparent. The paradoxical but inevitable hostility of hospitality is also apparent in the common etymological source of both words (hostes, hostage, host, hostile, hospitality).

Anthony Haughey mentioned his own dissatisfaction with the placating relational aesthetics of Bourriaud, claiming instead a need for the artist as source of (Rancierian?) dissensus. However I think people are more comfortable when they imagine the dissensus is against a perceived hegemonic power and less comfortable, perhaps, with the notion that an artist might introduce or make visible the dissensus within prevailing discourses of non-hegemonic communities. I think we had a brush with that slippery dissensus in Neil Watkins’ moving and, I imagine (with no evidence except a familiarity with Neil’s previous work) deliberately abrasive and challenging monologue about his life. The difficulty that some of yesterday’s panelists had in articulating how the monologue related to The Geographical Turn is a compliment to the event that Neil staged in the middle of the symposium, and it is also an indication that it was somehow disruptive. I know I enjoyed its ability to confound quick recuperation to theoretical discourse, even if Cormac O’Brien went some way to providing a sympathetic intellectual context for Neil’s performance. It was composed of words, but it was really a marshaling of affect that made language redundant, much as Neil jettisoned each page with an expletive once he’d read it. This was a performance, by a skilled, trained performer (as he repeatedly reminded us), who invested personal energy with relish and anxiety to manifest the event. His big bear, Norwegian-playing, queer, desiring, HIV-viral-load-undetectable body played its part, heating as he spoke and necessitating the gradual de-layering of his outer clothes. As Cormac O’Brien pointed out, in an age where the dominant mode of self-presentation is confessional, with its emphasis on authenticity as the paradoxically homogenising goal, Neil’s monologue offered a simulacrum of confession that is all the more authentic for its artifice. But it’s a performance, and as Debbie Allen’s character in Fame reminds us, it costs.

The artistic host’s resources are not infinite and while it may seem somehow regressive to assert the border of hospitality when considered in the context of the socially-engaged artistic practice that was a dominant paradigm in the symposium, when considered in the context of a form of neoliberal capitalism that exploits the affective energy of creatives whose labour is characterised as immaterial and consequently boundless and somehow inexhaustible, this assertion of the limit becomes an ethical stand. The cost is affective and it is bodily. ‘Right here is where you start paying: in sweat.’

Guest Blog 3. Moira Sweeney, Dublin Docks: Visualising Changing Identities, Communities and Labour Practices

Extracts from ‘Dublin Docks: Visualising Changing Identities, Communities and Labour Practices’

© Moira Sweeney 2015

My arrival onto the South Coal Quay on Dublins’ docks was prompted by the convergence in late 2008 of the distinct tributaries of an exploratory documentary imagination, an inquisitive geographical imagination and access through the man who was to become my key gatekeeper – stevedore John Nolan. At this juncture in practice, an ongoing intrigue with the port space coincided with a desire to challenge and redefine my practice as a broadcast documentary filmmaker. Over the subsequent years I befriended dockworkers, boatmen and port managers, all the while observing, photographing, filming and textually reflecting on these encounters and the relationships formed. This research process was characterised by experimentation and an attempt to push back the boundaries of practice by revitalising it with some of the tenets of visual ethnography.

From the Installation 'Rhythms of a Port'
Fig. 1 Dublin Port from the East Toll Bridge

A desire to adopt a more immersed sensorial audio-visual ethnographic approach on the docks replaced the previous more fleeting photographic path. I drew inspiration from practitioners and scholars within the fields of anthropology and ethnography in particular Grimshaw, Rouch, the MacDougalls and Stoller. Grimshaw’s critical appraisal of observational cinema offers a re-evaluation of its role of as a genre with which to fashion original patterns of ethnographic experience (2007). This approach is one defined by an analytical turn from the semiotic to a more phenomenologically shaped viewpoint, one where the body and the senses are embedded into the ethnographic process (ibid.). Grimshaw’s re-evaluation reflected my own desire to return to a more embodied form of filmmaking[1]. Divested of a full crew and travelling light (compared to the normal television film crew experience) facilitated an embodied engagement with the participants in the expanding field-site.

Fig. 2 Ronnie, Willie and Dick on the South Coal Quay
Fig. 2 Ronnie, Willie and Dick on the South Coal Quay

An intersubjective space existed between myself and the participants, a silent temporal space that was akin to being in what Rouch identified as a ‘ciné-transe’[2]. Filmmakers are privy to moments that they wish to capture and then repeat in the form of a film for others to experience. McDougall understands this longing when he observes that: ‘It seems an unattainable dream, and yet with a camera it is almost possible’ (2006: 27). McDougall describes as ‘a sensation of power and expectancy, as a willing of others to be precisely what they are, and do precisely what they’re doing, as they appear in the viewfinder’ (ibid.: 28). Echoing Hoffman and Rouch, he suggests that this offers a form of ‘spiritual synchrony’ (ibid.).

Fig. 3 Seafarer Cleaning the Hold on the Pacific Future
Fig. 3 Seafarer Cleaning the Hold on the Pacific Future

Over the course of filming I attempted to unearth some of the hidden geographic spaces, sounds and stories of the docks through the process of filming the labour on land and at sea. A slow familiarisation took place through the lens of a camera in this audiovisual and geographic mapping of the port. In becoming acutely aware of the ‘filming-body’ throughout the ethnographic process, I accumulated over this time ‘a series of perceptual clues’ (MacDougall, 2005: 26-27) which allowed me to construct filmic spaces analogous to that experienced in the everyday working life of the stevedores.

From the Photographic Series 'Rhythms of a Port' on Dublins' Docks
Fig. 4 Cleaning the Hold of the Minerval

These spaces took the form of two filmic installations[3]: Stevedoring Stories (Sweeney 2012) and Rhythms of a Port (Sweeney 2014). In the latter, traces of the warehouse’s former days as a dock cargo store lingered: the smell of oil, the old wooden containers, and the goods’ dockets. The elements and the proximity to the docks amplified the immersive experience: the sound of the river Liffey merged with the recorded sounds of the ports’ forklift warnings; gusts of wind wafted through the canvas screens generating a flapping movement like the sails of a boat; and local seagulls provided their own soundtrack to match the rugged harmonies of the recorded creaking wood and metal, squeaking ropes and pulleys.

The expanded version of this essay will appear in ‘Mind the Gap: doctoral research in the creative arts via practice’, Dublin: Distiller’s Press, editors Desmond Bell and Alan Grossman

[1] Grimshaw (2007:21), Rouch and the MacDougalls share a ‘commitment to embodied technology’ which includes the use of minimal handheld equipment. I had adopted such an approach throughout my early years as an experimental filmmaker.

[2] Rouch used this term in an interview in French with Fulchignoni in 1981. Translated extracts can be found in MacDougall (2006).

[3] The installations were curated for key Dublin city cultural events in former cargo warehouses along the docks. Stevedoring Stories was curated for Tall Ships 2012, PhotoIreland 2012 and Dublin Port Riverfest 2013. Rhythms of a Port was curated for PhotoIreland 2014 and Dublin Port River Fest 2014.


Grimshaw, A. Ravetz, A. (2005) Visualizing Anthropology, Bristol, UK: Intellect Ltd.

MacDougall D. (2006) The Corporeal Image: Film Ethnography and the Senses, New Jersey: Princeton University Press

Stoller, P. (1997) Sensuous Scholarship (Contemporary Ethnography), University of Pennsylvania Press.

Stoller, P. (2008) The Power of the Between: An Anthropological Journey, University of Chicago Press: Chicago


Stevedoring Stories (2012) Directed by Moira Sweeney (Film Installation). Ireland: Spirit Level Productions.

Rhythms of a Port (2014) Directed by Moira Sweeney (Film Installation). Ireland: Spirit Level Productions.

Guest Blog 2. Vanessa Daws, Psychoswimography: to explore place through swimming.

01. Lutyens

Dublin as a Swimming City – Vanessa Daws

Psychoswimography : to explore place through swimming.

Planktos : Drifting

I’ve been living in Dublin for four years. The first thing I did on arrival in Dublin was arrange a swim down the River Liffey in the heart of the city. This initiation ritual allowed a sense of total submersion, acceptance and a feeling of being welcomed by Dublin. The swim, carried out at dawn, slightly guerrilla in style out of naivety, was before I had even met the Dublin Sea Swimming community who have since become intrinsic to my swimming and art practice.

I’m a visual artist and avid open water swimmer, I’ve always swam, not competitively, or for particularly long distances; but when passing a body of water, be it pond, fountain, lake, river or sea, it’s hard for me not to resist the urge to take a quick swim. My art practice investigates where this drive to swim, to immerse oneself in water comes from. Is this urge spiritual, escapism or social? Is it the sheer thrill of the unknown; to feel the water on our skin, the cold on our head, adapt our breathing and to feel we exist? The cold water sparks off chemical reactions, a feeling of euphoria and giddiness while semi naked in the frigid sea that somehow allows us to act feral, to shout and laugh high on endorphins.

My art work is interested in exploring social sea swimming practice and place, where people from all walks of life meet in all weather conditions throughout the year to swim, chat, drink tea and shiver.

Encounter, conversation, invitation and journey, are all elements that build up my art practice, as well as art forms such as film, sound, installation, live events, drawing and publications. Through meeting swimmers and the shared experience of water my work explores ways in which we accept as normal our pursuits and chosen rituals, and also how through acclimatisation and adaption we can surprise ourselves and go beyond our expectations.

02. Liffey

Dublin has a thriving swimming community. There’s the daily sea swimmers who meet either by time or by tide on their local beach, swim hut, steps or rocks from Skerries to Bray and beyond. Then there is Leinster Open Sea Swimming, an organisation that promotes open water swimming and runs sea swim races throughout the summer all along the Dublin Bay coast, the highlight being the historic, official Liffey Swim. Also there is the generation of wetsuit clad teenagers jumping off the highest buildings into any available body of water. So hundreds of people are all using Dublin’s rivers, canals and bay as their playground or place of ritual and inclusion.

03. Urban Swimming

I am also interested in exploring more unconventional bodies of water, Urban Swimming is an ongoing swim intervention which aims to temporally change the way we view public fountains. When ever I see a fountain with swim potential, I would swim around it, no fuss or ceremony and then just walk off. This work is documented using film and digital image, the work observed by anyone who happens to be walking past at the time.

Urban Swimming 2011- ongoing

My swim art practice has taken me to watery places as diverse as the frozen Pirita River in Estonia, Santa Barbara, The length of the Rideau Canal in Canada, London, Lisbon, The President’s Fountain in Sofia, Bulgaria, the M50 Aqueduct and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wales and the to the bogs of Ballycroy in Co Mayo.

04. Lambay Starfish

The Lambay Swim Triptych 2014 – 2017

“As each day passed, Colin had become more and more fixed in his feeling that the mystery surrounding the garden was one of it’s greatest charms” (1)

I have been swimming at Low Rock, Malahide every week since moving to Dublin. Lambay Island sits on the periphery of the swim vista at Low Rock and is the largest island off the east coast of Ireland. Lambay is steeped in intrigue and mystery; a sequestered place where wild wallabies share their home with the 7th Lord Revelstoke and shipwrecks and castles hide many secrets.

05. Lambay Swim Collaborative Journey

The first Lambay Swim was in June 2014 and was a collaborative journey to Lambay Island made by myself and the swimmers of Low Rock, Malahide as part of the Artist in the Community Award, funded by the Arts council and managed by Create. We swam in half hour slots, taking it in turns, based on the English Channel relay-team rules. We set off in sunshine, but as we neared Lambay, the water became choppy and a mist came down. Everyone swam the last 500 meters in together, through a wall of inquisitive seals onto a beach full of starfish.

06. Uncharted 2014

We presented this swim project to the public on December 6th in an event called “Uncharted”. The event aimed to create an aural myth of our “Lambay Swim”. We gave a tour of Low Rock through sound work and performed narratives. As part of this event we also invited the audience to enter the sea and as the sun rose we ate barbecued Lambay wallaby burgers for breakfast.


07. Uncharted

Below are two sound pieces from “Uncharted”

Lambay Island –

The original Lambay solo crossing –

08. Lambay Solo Swim Expedition

A year later on the 22nd July 2015 I swam from the yellow swimming huts at Low Rock in Malahide to the harbour on Lambay Island. The “Lambay Solo Swim Expedition” was the second Lambay swim. The distance as the crow flies is 8k, I swam 9.64k because of the flow of the tides. The swim only took me 2 hours and 37 minutes as I had meticulously studied the tides with Raja Maitre the Howth Harbour Master and the SWS winds gave me an additional push along.

A solo swim is never solo.

I had asked 12 people from the world of science, art and swimming to accompany me on this expedition and act as my support crew and to observe and respond to this swim as they would in their own professional activities. These responses are currently being discussed and recorded and will used as the source for an exhibition and publication.

09. Lambay Solo Swim Expedition

The third Lambay Swim will be a circumnavigational swim of the island in 2016 and will be the toughest of the three swims.

10. 1st Solo Crossing of UCD Lake

I am currently at UCD on the Art in Science residency. I have been exploring the history, myths and science around the rather un-loved and un-thought about UCD Lake. This project started off with the “1st Solo Crossing of UCD Lake” – 31.01.15, Water Temp 4º, Distance 75m, narrowly avoiding swans and the lurgy. This work will exist as a publication and temporary on site installation.

(1) The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911

Guest Blog 1: Pauline O’Connell, Rural lifeworlds; an artistic practice of scratching the surface, tilting mirrors and place-making in rural contexts

The word ‘landscape’ entered into our lexicon of consciousness originally as a technical term for painters to describe the artistic presentation of a scene. The word ‘performs’ in our minds eye bucolic scenes whereby idyllic rural image montages are built up, offering a tranquil depiction of animals, perhaps a river, rolling hills and trees. This ‘chocolate box’ treatment of an idealized landscape offers us a fetishized view of landscape as stasis, untouched and unspoiled by hu(man).   My formal art training acknowledges this process of translating from three-dimensional ‘real life’ onto a two-dimensional picture plane as a false and inadequate representation. Having a clear and distinctive foreground, middle and background one can never represent the other fully, or indeed, as simply. Scratching the surface critically, landscape provides, according to anthropologists P. J. Stewart and A. Starthern a ‘contextual horizon of perceptions … in which people see themselves to be living in the world’[i]. It codifies (a) history they say, as seen from the viewpoint of personal experience, in the world, which I am part of.

Over the past twenty years, I have come to realize that artistic practices of place-making cannot happen quickly nor in isolation. There demands a cross-fertilization of disciplines, that have both fed and have emerged from my social practice with for instance; art theory, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, ethnography and cultural geography to mention but a few.   I have adopted processes of deep collaboration in rural contexts over long periods of time resulting in a trans- and inter- disciplinary practice. The process of tilting the mirror to capture and reveal another viewpoint utilizing methods of historical research, archiving, deep mapping, community activism, pedagogical initiatives and dialogical /discursive enquiry simply positions me in relation to my subject of enquiry, my constituents and their lifeworlds, whilst acknowledging my own. By seeing, hearing, talking and listening, gathering stories in/from/about place(s) that place rural lifeworlds in the more messy and complex ‘real life’ landscape reveals multiple picture planes. Not so easy a composition to communicate back. Ontologically driven, my enquiry looks at history and memory recall to explore economic, political and social events in time that impact the ‘perceived vision of landscape’ and moreover the ‘perceived placement of (rural) people’ (Stewart and Starthern) within these settings.

In the past, I have synthesized my research through sculpture, installation, photography, sound and context specific/ephemeral works in place. More recently the durational aspect of working in the public domain has led me to actually place myself in a given context over long periods of time. My research, distilled through text-based works – film, audio, photography and community events. Disseminated back in the locale, in places where the research developed, findings are interpreted and communicated back to the people/ audience who have contributed to the research as active participants, collaborators and co-producers, creating, in accordance with Edward Soja, a ‘thirdspace’ – a space for interrelations – providing a meeting ground, a site of hybridity, a space which connects the past with the present and the future too.

The following text (mildly edited and amended) was written as a reflective document resulting from an intensive research residency under the thematic ‘Art and Agriculture’ at The Leitrim Sculpture Centre, June and July 2015. ‘The Milk Well and The Tea Well’ originated in place, in the rural uplands of north-east Co. Kilkenny, where I live. There, two pre-famine sunken stone-lined wells lie giving their naming to the emergent work.

The Milk Well and The Tea Well

Fig 1. The Milk Well and The Tea Well, Cassagh, Co. Kilkenny, C-type print © P. O’Connell 2015

Whilst focusing my attention on the environs of north County Leitrim, an area spoken of by Arthur Balfour, Chief Secretary of Ireland in a speech delivered in Liverpool in 1890 as being “on the verge of want,”[ii] the research findings boomeranged at local, regional, national and EU levels. There were three main strands to the project undertaken; each looking at the specificity of rural culture and its complex relationship to identity politics and indigeneity through – historic enquiry, methods of milk preservation and the local /social economy. By drawing on history and trace memories to evoke ways in which we might better place rural lifeworlds[iii] (Habermas: 1987) as directly experienced by individuals, subjectively, in and through their everyday life, the project – The Milk Well and The Tea Well models itself in accordance with Edward Soja’s ‘thirdspace’[iv]. Providing a meeting ground, a site of hybridity, a space for a “meeting up of histories” a definition put forward by geographer Doreen Massey, a space which connects the past with the present and the future too.

This northwest region holds with it a particular nexus of cultural and economic aspiration, a region where one system of inscription has (either) successfully (or not) made way for another – part of the continuing ‘existential story’ that Kearney speaks of. A major contributing factor to this story was the establishment in 1959 of The Shannon Free Trade Zone. This saw the world’s first Free Trade Zone set up near Shannon Airport.[v] The consequence of such incentivized corporate invitations and farming disincentives through quotas meant that there was a considerable migration of farmers away from the land and into factory jobs[vi]. Impacting the once common practice of dairy farming within the region, petering down to only two dairy farmers remaining in the north Leitrim region today. The 1960’s – 1970’s were a pivotal time in Ireland as preparations were being made to enter the EC (later EU), farmers were incentivized to opt for a dry stock farming practice, encouraged by, for instance:

The Beef Cattle Incentive Scheme [which] has been largely responsible for the shift from milch cattle to suckling herds [in and around 1973-1974].
Leitrim County Library, Ballinamore, Local Studies Collection, excerpt taken from the Leitrim Guardian, 1988, p.46, 941.71L, entitled “Another closure in Leitrim but thanks for the memory Longfield” by Edward Kiernan.

The farmer was paid £16 per suckling cow, thus affording them more time to work away from the land.

Fig. 2 Manorhamilton Mart 13/7/15, 35mm slide projected © P. O’Connell 2015
Fig. 2 Manorhamilton Mart 13/7/15, 35mm slide projected © P. O’Connell 2015

The cow was the mainstay of the people in the country. The cow helped to bring the people through hard time, and the loss of a cow was a huge loss – you know, very hard replace. And people survived on mountain farms if they could keep two or three cows, and they’d sort of survive by bringing a drop of milk to the creamery and keeping hens and maybe sellin turf and puttin in nearly an acre of crop, you know, … spuds, and… sellin the eggs and havin eggs for the house, and keepin a few pigs … maybe a pig to sell and a pig to kill for the house, and turkeys at Christmas … and all that. It was all self-sufficient, they’d have their own vegetables as well, but they worked extremely hard.
Charlie Cullen, excerpted interview conducted as part of The Milk Well and The Tea Well research at LSC residency studio 15/7/15

Fig. 3 Audio Repository – Heiddeger’s Churn, LSC Gallery, DV screen grab © R. le Gear 2015
Fig. 3 Audio Repository – Heiddeger’s Churn, LSC Gallery, DV screen grab © R. le Gear 2015

Looking at the once projected national aspirations and economic plans for the north-west region my aim here was to re-inscribe the sediments of history, to take the remnants of politics (Harvey: 1991, 2000) mixed with personal experience (Kearney: 2002) and offer a new means of reading them. This archival practice, part of a continuing story (Massey: 2012) looks at landscape as a vehicle for many subjectsproviding a wider context in which notions about social identity, place and community can be situated (Stewart & Strathern: 2003).

Fig. 4 Audio Repository - Heiddeger’s Jug, LSC Gallery, DV screen grab © R. le Gear 2015
Fig. 4 Audio Repository – Heiddeger’s Jug, LSC Gallery, DV screen grab © R. le Gear 2015

The Milk Well and The Tea Well is a particular place of preservation, more than a geographical place, it occupies a rural consciousness “recording the forms of human experience that have occurred within them”[vii]. The naming of the wells tells of a time before refrigeration, before cooler systems or regular creamery collections. A time when the small excesses of milk brought to the co-operative creamery thusly providing a much needed extra income for the smallholder. The size of the larger well (fig. 1, left) accommodates only one creamery can/churn – indicating the ownership of only one or two cows. Built for the sole purpose of preserving milk and for water consumption[viii] the image reveals itself (Berger: 1995, Barthes: 2006). The relationship between the photographic image and its referent provides a questioning relation between it and the viewer, providing “another way of telling” as Berger suggests. This tells of a time/pace in history – before the ever present pressures of ‘acceleration’ through mechanization with an emphasis on ‘increased yields’ which, if we scratch the memory surface historically led to:

[F]armers [in the 1980’s] being paid to produce goods for which there was no market and which were then bought up for intervention storage and later [for] sale at (lower) global market prices. …. This basic system led to the infamous “butter mountains” and “[milk] lakes of the 1980’s. agricultural-policy-cap [Accessed 4/7/15]

Fig. 5 Killasnett Co-Operative Agricultural Dairy Society Limited, Supplier’s Pass. Book donated by Seamus O’Hara, photograph © R. le Gear 2015
Fig. 5 Killasnett Co-Operative Agricultural Dairy Society Limited, Supplier’s Pass. Book donated by Seamus O’Hara, photograph © R. le Gear 2015

Looking at the subject of milk preservation historically has implicit with it questions surrounding mechanization, accelerationism, labour and gender (Massey: 1994). Exploring these through an archival lens opens a space where notions of time, agency and hope open up to emerge as “new forms of resistance” as Gregory Sholette suggests, an acknowledgment of who we are and where / how we exist. Acting as a conduit it mediates broader agendas relating to farming practice, the aforementioned policies moulding the local, regional and common farming practices decided upon at European level, it is especially pertinent today in light of

[T]he recent elimination of milk quotas in 2015 [which] … provide(s) Irish dairy farmers with the opportunity to expand production for the first time in 30 years.   Taken from [Accessed 20/05/14]

Consequently this has led to protest marches by farmers 1/9/15 congregating in Dublin, at government buildings. Their demands, as set out in the Treaty of Rome CAP[ix] objectives in 1958, “to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community”- requesting that milk prices be regulated in a fair and equitable fashion so that the recent removal of quotas and encouragement “ to increase productivity” along with the past asymmetrical cycle of incentives which led to an ‘over supply’ (not in line with consumption needs), will not result in the ‘butter mountains’ and ‘milk lakes’ of old.

Fig. 6 Manorhamilton Mart, 13/7/15, 35 mm slide projected, © P. O’Connell 2015
Fig. 6 Manorhamilton Mart, 13/7/15, 35 mm slide projected, © P. O’Connell 2015

I focused my field research on and was guided by individual personal ‘recollections’. The project’s ‘aesthetic retrieval’[x] through auto-ethnographic methods[xi], focused not on a limited nostalgic retrieval as Fredrick Jameson puts forward, rather it paid attention to, but was not wholly based on, historic facts. It opened up “ordinary space”[xii] and was biased towards the act of remembering, an ‘enigma’ of memory as Ricoeur calls it. The excavation of memory is channeled through stories, collected orally. Through dialogical means informed consent was sought from individuals, negotiating broader access through a collective ‘call out’ channeled through media platforms[xiii] – radio; Shannonside 104.1FM, in print; The Leitrim Observer. Stories were willingly told to me by local people / people in the locale resulting with numerous offers of information, undertaking accompanied ‘deep mapping’[xiv] journeys, a demonstration of butter making, interviews and audio recordings being carried out in my studio at LSC and conducted at creamery sites / places of preservation. With a view to better understanding the relationship between the empirical agency of the story and the phenomenological agency of remembering the re-telling of stories, those re-told to me, collected, interpreted and pieced together became the main guide and research component within the project.

Fig. 7 Killasnett Co-Op Dairy Society Ltd., 28 lb. butter boxes, installation LSC Gallery, Manorhamilton, photograph © P. O’Connell 2015
Fig. 7 Killasnett Co-Op Dairy Society Ltd., 28 lb. butter boxes, installation LSC Gallery, Manorhamilton, photograph © P. O’Connell 2015

“Instead of prioritising the moment of display” in and of itself, or indeed longer-term projects over shorter intensive ones, or, temporary versus permanent artworks – what Claire Doherty and Paul O’Neill refer to in Locating The Producers when they call for “short-term and durational projects to be realised as part of longer-term, cumulative engagements which recognise the process through which small-scale, limited constituencies gather for a finite period of time around particular projects”. The exhibition here, allows for, and acts as an “open-ended, accumulative process of engagement”[xv] whereby there was clear evidence of participants/collaborators/co-producers and extended families willingness to engage with the work in the exhibition space, having gained a sense of empowerment by/through the process of engagement. The resulting ‘discursive exhibition’[xvi] – a form of new “New Institutionalism”[xvii] articulates both my solicitude and criticality that evolved in the locale over an intensive, embedded, committed period of time that had no predetermined outcomes or pseudo-ethnographic intent at the outset. In keeping with Barthes’s “stereographic” reading of the text “the reader [in this case the viewer/participant] is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination” [xviii]. The space spoken of here engages the viewers as ‘actors’ changing their position from passive consumer to active participant (Castells; 2009, Nancy; 2008), opening up a critical space for imbuing both micro and meta-narratives – a dialogue with oneself, acknowledging our individual personal histories and within that a subjectivity of emplacement[xix], creating a thirdspace[xx].”

Pauline O’Connell


Back, Les, 2013, The Art of Listening, (London, New York; Bloomsbury)

Barthes, Roland, 2006, Camera Lucida, Reflections on Photography, (London; Vintage)

Berger, John and Mohr, Jean, 1995, Another Way Of Telling, (New York; Vintage International)

Castells, Manuel, 2009, Communication Power, (Oxford, New York; Oxford University Press)

Freud, Sigmund, 1925, A Note upon the “Mystical Writing Pad”, General Psychological Theory, Chapter XIII

Guattari, Félix, 2000, The Three Ecologies, (London, New York; Continuum International Publishing Group)

Habermas, Jürgen, 1987, Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, Volume 2 of The Theory of Communicative Action, English translation by Thomas McCarthy. (Boston; Beacon Press ) originally published in German in 1981.

Harvey, David, 2000, Spaces of Hope, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

Harvey, David, 1991, From Space to Place and Back Again; Reflections on the Condition of Postmodernity — text for UGLA GSAUP Colloquium, May 13, 1991, as cited by Hayden in The Power of Place

Jameson, Fredrick, 1991, Postmodernism, or The Culture Local of Late Capitalism (Duke University Press)

Kearney, Richard, 2002, On Stories, Thinking in Action, (Abington, Oxon, New York; Routledge.)

Kester, Grant H., 2004, Conversation Pieces, Community and Communication in Modern Art, (Berkeley; University of California Press) – Jean-Luc Nancy and the Politics of Community

Kwon, Miwon, 2004, One Place After Another, Site – Specific Art and Locational Identity, (Cambridge; MIT Press)

Lippard, Lucy R., 1997, The Lure of the Local, Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society, (New York; The New Press)

Massey, Doreen, 2012, For Space, (London, California, New Delhi, Singapore; SAGE Publishing)

Massey, Doreen, 1994, Space, Place, Gender, (Mineapolis; University of Minnesota Press)

Nancy, Jean Luc, 2008, The Inoperative Community, (Mineapolis; University of Minnesota Press)

O’Neill, P. & Doherty, Claire (eds.), 2011, Locating The Producers Durational Approaches to Public Art, (Bristol; Valiz Antennae Series)

Pink, Sarah, Doing Sensory Ethnography, 2009, London, California, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage Publishing.

Ricoeur, Paul, 2006, Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. K. Blamey & D. Pellauer, (Chicago, London; The University of Chicago Press)

Sholette, Gregory, 2011, Dark Matter, Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (Marxism and Culture), (London, New York; Pluto Press)

Soja, Edward, 1996, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, (Oxford, Massachusett; Wiley-Blackwell)

Stewart, Pamela J. & Strathern, Andrew, 2003, Landscape, Memory and History, Anthropological Perspectives, (London, Sterling, Virginia; Pluto Press)


[i] Stewart P.J. & Strathern, A., 2003, Landscape, Memory and History, Anthropological Perspectives, (London, Sterling, Virginia; Pluto Press), p.4.

[ii] Morrissey, J. (ed.) (2001), On the Verge of Want : A Unique Insight into Living Conditions Along Ireland’s Western Seaboard in the Late 19th Century, Crannog Books, Ireland.

[iii] “A lifeworld (in German Lebenswelt) is the term used in phenomenology for the world as it is directly experienced in our subjective everyday life, that is, in our everyday situations and relations (as opposed to the world as the object of scientific study). The lifeworld is made up of different aspects of our experience—imaginal, social, perceptual, and embodied—and is often thematically framed in terms of lived space, the lived body, lived time, and our lived human relationship with other beings”. Taken from an article written by Dr. Iain Biggs “Incorrigibly plural”? Rural Lifeworlds Between Concept and Experience for The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies Vol. 38, Nos. 1+2 (2014).

[iv] as a Lived Space is portrayed as multi-sited and contradictory, oppressive and liberating, passionate and routine, knowable and unknowable. It is a space of radical openness, a site of resistance and struggle, a space of multiplicitous representations (…) It is a meeting ground, a site of hybridity.” excerpt taken from Locating the Producers: An End to the Beginning, the beginning of the End, by O’Neill, Paul and Doherty, Claire.

[v] The Shannon Free Trade Zone provided for lower tax rates and incentives such as tax exemptions for foreign companies to set up in the region- along the western seaboard. This political strategy set a precedent of courting foreign corporations with economic stimulus resulting with one such company coming to Hazelwood in neighbouring County Sligo. SNIA, a Milanese chemical and weapons producer operated from 1969 – 1984, it was later decommissioned, re-tooled in 1987 and re-inscribed by another company SaeHan Information Systems making magnetic VHS tapes until its almost overnight closure in 2005 with the introduction of the DVD.

[vi](source; “Impact of Agriculture Schemes and Payments on Aspects of Ireland’s Heritage” © An Chomhairle Oidhreachta / The Heritage Council 1999)

[vii] Stewart, Pamela J, & Strathern, Andrew, (eds) Landscape, Memory and History, Anthropological Perspectives, Pluto Press, London, sterling, Virginia, p. 6

[viii] The Tea Well is a receptacle containing water that was used for making tea.

[ix] CAP – Common Agricultural Policy

[x] Fredrick Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Culture Local of Late Capitalism p. 66

[xi] Auto-ethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research” from Auto ethnography: An Overview, Carolyn Ellis, Tony E. Adams & Arthur P. Bochner, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No 1 (2011) p. 2.

[xii] Doreen Massey, 2012, For Space, (London, California, New Delhi, Singapore, Sage Publications Ltd.), p.13.

[xiii] Interview by Charlie McGettigan on Shannonside Radio 104.1FM 15/7/15, newspaper article in The Leitrim Observer “The Milk and Tea Well Creamery Research” 15/7/15 p.11.

[xiv] Deep Mapping originated with Mike Pearson, Michael Shanks, Clifford McLucas, and the radical Welsh performance group Brith Gof

[xv] See Bruce W. Ferguson and Milena M. Hoegsberg, Talking and Thinking

about Biennials: The Potential of Discursivity, The Biennial Reader, eds.

Jelena Filipovic et al. (Ostfildern, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010), pp. 361-375.

[xvi] “discursive exhibition” coined by Claire Doherty and Paul O’Neill in their book Locating The Producers

[xvii] New Institutionalism and The Exhibition as Situation, (ed.) Claire Doherty – new institutionalism, a buzzword of curatorial discourse poached from social science classifies; curatorial practice, institutional reform and critical debate concerned with the transformation of art institutions from within.

[xviii] Roland Barthes, 1977, The Death of the Author, Image Music Text , trans. Stephen Heath. New York, Hill and Wang, , p 118 in The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism, Part 2, Craig Owens, in October, Vol. 13. (Summer, 1980), pp. 58-80.

[xix] Emplacement suggests the sensuous interrelationship of body–mind environment, see Sarah Pink, Doing Sensory Ethnography, 2009, London, California, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage Publishing.

[xx] Thirdspace is based on the work of a number of social scientists, most notably Henri Lefebvre. Lefebvre introduces Thirdspace in a slightly different form and under a different name: ‘Spaces of representation and can also be seen as ‘lived space’. It is the idea of Thirdspace as the space we give meaning to a rapidly, continually changing space in which we live. It is the experience of living.