Abstracts

Ronald L. Grimes

At the heart of this presentation is A Daughter’s Song, a short film about a commemorative ceremony enacted in Montreal, Canada, in 2014 by Mohawks and artists, Jews and Muslims. Such an event challenges popular and scholarly assumptions about ritual, for instance, that it is primarily backward-looking or that it consolidates an in-group against an out-group. The Mohawk Condolence Ceremony, which provides the central gestures of this memorial, is not only traditional but also forward-looking; it constructs bridges across chasms dividing groups. Effective memorials are as much about re-framing the present and envisioning the future as they are about remembering the past. Participants in commemorative rites are not typically recollecting events they once experienced. Rather, they are imagining retrospectively. A Daughter’s Song helps viewers understand how and why.

Fiona Byrne

This paper will focus on the act of remembering rather than on celebration, a problematic word in the context of histories of care provision for mental health. This paper will look at the facilitation of community remembering through a number of the strands of the World Within Walls project. This project was funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and aimed to remember and recall the histories of St. Davnet’s. The site now known as St. Davnet’s Campus was established in 1869; then known as Monaghan District Lunatic Asylum. Throughout its 142 years of existence, it expanded from an initial capacity of 300 patients to over 900 at its peak. In 2011 the hospital ceased taking admissions. This paper will focus on three key aspects of the project: the oral history project, community events and exhibition. It will examine how the oral history gathering provided a platform for remembering and sharing of stories that are not recorded in official records. It will look at the community events and how these formed connections and delivered shared experiences which created dialogue about life in the hospital. It will then look at the public responses to the exhibition held at Monaghan County Museum. This paper will argue that although this approach requires a considerable investment of time and resources it provides a relevant and worthwhile way to explore the difficult history of this site. This project has allowed the community to explore and add to the narratives of the hospitals past. Commemoration needs to be relevant to have meaning, remembering is located in the present; therefore the link between ‘then’ and ‘now’ needs to be acknowledged. By providing a space for community input the World Within Walls project encouraged shared ownership of the project making it more significant to those interacting with it.

Maeve Casserly

On Monday 28 July 2014 St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the heart of Dublin’s ‘Liberties’ unveiled the Tree of Remembrance, a modern art installation to commemorate ‘all those who have been affected by war.’ The memorial is intended to demonstrate the destruction and futility of war by its harsh, barren and warped appearance. Located in the North Transept of the Cathedral, among memorials dedicated to soldiers of the Boer War, the South African War and other conflicts, the tree is part of an exhibition called Lives Remembered. It will run until 2018 and focuses particularly on the impact of the First World War on members of the Cathedral. There are three different components to the Lives Remembered Great War commemoration; the Tree of Remembrance monument; a series of video interviews with men and women who have a connection with the Cathedral and have been affected by the Great War; and the First World War Irish Memorial Records on display in the North Transept. Each element is available in a physical form and is also accessible online, on the Lives Remembered website. Prompted by the centenary of 1914, the eight hundred year old Cathedral set out to demonstrate a change in attitude from monuments which endorse an exclusive glorification of war to creating an inclusive memorial which anyone can identify with on some human level, ‘we are using the centenary… as a kind of opportunity to make a statement that it doesn’t sit well with us that so few are remembered. Each of the components in the exhibition has its own pros and cons, due to time constraints I will look at each individual element and evaluate them in terms of their design and demonstration of commemoration.

Susan Scott 

Two case studies on the creative, low-budget end of the commemorative process are compared, both grassroots arts initiatives that sprang up in response to collective tragedy or deeply felt loss in a community. Both ventures were co-founded by artists who stepped up to leadership roles in the public’s healing (commemorative) process. Both projects took place in highly charged political and media-saturated environments. The Walkerton Water Stories Project began in a small farm town in central Canada in 2001, site of the country’s worst water tragedy, while Montreal-based Native Immigrant was rolled out during a bitter electoral campaign that pitted Quebec’s so-called secular values against those of many immigrants. Contrasts, too, are striking: the Water Project served a close-knit rural region with almost no exposure to community arts, while Native Immigrant’s pluralistic urban community included diaspora Jews and Muslims. Both projects sprang out of the artists’ commitment to process—namely, eliciting, collecting and transforming deeply personal, often suppressed or hidden, stories of collective grief. All good, except that such story-based commemorating places both artists and participants under enormous pressure to present stories in a certain light. With that in mind, the presentation asks three key questions: (1) What tensions spring from outsiders trying to work with insiders’ stories? (2) Are there models for addressing those tensions, using them productively? And, finally, (3) what is gained and lost if commemorative processes are fueled by cries for “restorative narrative,” stories that place human dignity, rather than exposé, at the centre of reporting on community trauma?

Brian Keegan 

This paper concerns my recent music composition, Hier Wohnte, for string quartet.The piece commemorates the life of an individual and this is reflected in the title which simply means ‘here lived’. The phrase in German appears on the tens of thousands of Stolpersteinen that appear on brass plates embedded in streets across Europe, mainly in Germany. These are the work of the German artist Gunter Demnig. These stones commemorate those individuals who lost their lives during the regime of the national socialists during the 1930s and 40s. While each stone represents the life of one person, each is also an echo of the greater tragedy of mass transportation and mass murder. Hier Wohnte commemorates the life of an individual who lived during this time but survived. Their life is both ordinary and extraordinary, spanning a period of long stability but also a period of immense suffering. It is a life of day-to-day survival and survival on an epic scale.This paper asks the question: when we commemorate an individual, to what extent are we commemorating all those who lived ‘parallel’ lives? When we remember those who survived, do we also remember all those, unknown to us, who didn’t?As an art form, a piece of music, Hier Wohnte reflects on the most basic of facts; the fact that somebody lived. The music consists of sequences of echoes. Sometimes these are solitary, fading to silence or noise. Sometimes they are part of a cacophony of traces. From, the echo, this most elemental of sonic phenomena, musical texture and form are created.

Steve Maher 

Censorship is the suppression of information and culture, when music is censored its suppression is motivated by an understanding by an authority of music’s compelling abilities. Understanding the legacy of censorship in Ireland, through the dynamics offered in the participatory art project detailed in this paper, offers a community insight into their relationship with the past as well as their future in a very unique and more importantly engaging way.In the earliest days of the state, censorship was a foundational tool for the formation of power structures from which we are only now experiencing an overdue hangover; music like many other art forms was subject to successful control. A popular campaign to ban Jazz in the 1930’s lead by Fr Peter Conifrey successfully lobbied the state to pass the Public Dance Halls Act of 1935, this in reality lead to the collateral extinction of the age old midsummer tradition of crossroads dancing, in fact the original legislature although obscure persists in statute to this day. This act was a portent of the successful broadcast ban of Jazz and crooner music in Ireland between 1943 and 1948, a close mirror to a similar law passed shortly before in Nazi Germany. Jazz was representative of the closely encroaching type of modernism which the young state under the guidance of the Roman Catholic Church could not permit; the legacy of this relationship can be seen in many cultural artefacts to this date. Taking from this point this paper will outline a relational project which proposes strategies for negotiating this important aspect of Ireland’s history in the context of the upcoming decade of centenaries. The project will make use of an alternative re-enactment embedded amongst one of the rural communities from which the original campaign originated in Leitrim; this will take shape in the form of an “illegal” crossroads dance organised with the community featuring jazz and crooner music as its alternative content, the event will exist as a way for these communities to sublimate the contested history which originated nearly 100 years ago where they now live. This paper itself will discuss some of the research and artistic strategies used to develop this project.

Miriam Houghtan

This paper considers the collaborative aims of academics and artists working within performance and Irish studies to intervene in regional, national and international programmes for artistic and discursive commemoration currently in planning for Easter 2016 in Ireland and among the Irish diaspora. The 1916 Easter Rising/Rebellion’s legacy as the key turning point in the struggle for national independence is inscribed in Irish history, politics and culture. Yet, this legacy is documented as requiredly patriarchal, Catholic, nationalist, and exclusive in multiple ways. In summary, notions of ‘freedom’ transpired as tightly monitored privileges for certain communities and identities, and were absolutely withheld from others. In recent revisionist histories, these privileges and discriminations are noted, particularly through feminist research and performance practices. Creative responses by groundbreaking productions such as Máiréad Ní Ghráda’s An Triail (1964), Patricia Burke Brogan’s Eclipsed (1994), ANU’s Laundry (2011) and Brokentalkers’ The Blue Boy (2011), among many more, have conveyed the complex politics underwriting Ireland’s lesser known histories of institutionalization, particularly the narratives of Magdalene laundries, industrial schools, orphanages and related institutions. These performances present the histories of an emerging nation where vulnerable children and adults were criminalized and sexualized, suffering punitive consequences monitored and imposed by state and religious rule, and rarely challenged by wider Irish society. Academics and artists from the island of Ireland, North and South, and across global diasporic communities, consider the potential creative power of programming interdisciplinary performances and symposia to occur simultaneously in October 2016 (coinciding with the twenty-year anniversary of the closure of the last laundry in the Republic of Ireland), centralising conversations that make visible the histories once hidden, silenced, and suppressed.

Mary Jane Boland 

On the 12th of August 1821, the newly crowned King of England, George IV, landed in Howth for an eighteen-day visit to Ireland. His arrival was marked with much pomp and ceremony: a temporary triumphal arch was erected on College Green; flags, banners and bunting were strewn across the streets; fireworks were set off each evening. When the King made his formal entry into the city via Sackville Street, he was followed by a 200-carriage cavalcade and an array of regimental officers. The event was reported on in meticulous detail by the press – both in Dublin’s newspapers and in regional publications in Cork and Limerick. Unsurprisingly then, artists also sprang into action, keen to capture the event on canvas, but also to capitalise on the public’s celebratory mood. This was probably due, in part, to a competition that was run by the Royal Institution for the Promotion of Fine Arts in Ireland, which offered £500 for ‘the best painting of his Majesty’s landing in this country by an Irish artist.’ This competition is also probably the reason why so many images of the event still exist today – commemorative renderings of the King’s entry into the city can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Ireland and in the British Embassy in Dublin (to name but a few). This paper will examine the extant visualisations of the event and in particular, will investigate the work of William de Turner de Lond, who painted as many as four versions of the Kings entrance to the city (for example, see fig. 1). By focusing on the ideological constructs of the public space in these images, the paper will question what they meant to their elite contemporary audiences: were they manifestations of patriotism and pride? Do they communicate ideas about social hierarchy and public order? Or, are they merely commemorative objects – acting in many ways like extravagant souvenirs of a momentous occasion? Finally, as the bicentenary of this event draws near, the paper will also question its relevance and meaning today.

Kayla Rose 

This paper would present an analysis of the artistic, social, and cultural values of illuminated addresses as commemorative objects imbued with civic pride and wealth in Victorian and immediate post-Victorian Belfast. As material objects imbued with the meanings and messages of commercial and industrial life, the ceremonial presentation of illuminated addresses in Belfast formed a microcosm of Victorian performative culture, on par with the larger industrial cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Glasgow. As physical manifestations of Victorian and immediate post-Victorian identity, illuminated addresses were more than decorative and representative; they were the actual embodiment of accomplishment – commemorative objects presented to people for significant achievements through public ceremony. Their production and presentation remained in fashion until the late 1920s, thus providing a form of commemorative material culture that existed in both northern and southern Ireland pre- and post-independence and partition.

This paper would further explore the material culture of illuminated addresses, and their production, presentation, and circulation, as physical examples of how deeply embedded Protestant culture and wealth were into nineteenth-century Belfast’s society and culture. While the text itself was exceedingly formal, representative of the polite and ceremonial nature of Victorian middle- and upper-class society, illuminated addresses recalled more antiquated traditions involving the nobility, such as heraldry. Like their heraldic counterparts, the language and content conveyed in the text of an address asserted the receiver’s qualifications and legitimized his civic role. Illuminated addresses provide key evidence for the development and expression of a strongly Protestant civic identity in Belfast, and through this expression helped mediate the shifting values and traditions of commemoration from the middle of the nineteenth century through the first quarter of the twentieth in what would become Northern Ireland.

Lucy Moore and Ian Kirkpatrick 

Approaching the commemoration of the First World War from a new perspective, ‘A Graphic War’ is a current Leverhulme Trust residency based at Leeds Museums and Galleries that seeks to explore the conflict through the lens of its graphic design outputs.  Drawing from Leeds Museums and Galleries collections, our project highlights the communicative, emotional and logistical roles that everyday objects such as postcards, biscuit tins, ration cards, and decorative ceramics played during the war.  Our investigations will culminate in a multi-site exhibition across the city that involves both museum and commercial partners, and collaborations with multiple youth groups in Leeds.  This new, alternative perspective on traditional social and military history collections aims to engage new audiences and challenge viewers to reassess their thoughts and feelings on war and its Commemoration. Our presentation will discuss the creative processes underlying our curator/artist collaboration, and address the challenges involved in developing a city-wide art trail within a modest budget and timeframe.  Also detailed will be our work with local youth groups including the Preservative Party and Cupboard, who are participating in the project via their own First World War design creations.  Their artworks – along with several large-scale pieces created by sculptor/designer Ian Kirkpatrick – will be exhibited at Leeds Museums’ venues and commercial retail spaces during November 2015.  The placement of art interventions at non-traditional sites is a key element of our project, which aims to make Great War history accessible to a wide variety of demographics, including those who may not typically engage with art or heritage.

Joanna Skryzdelska 

During my speech I would like to present the Croatian National Day – “Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders”, which is celebrated every year on 5th August. This anniversary is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Operation “Storm” (Oluja) in 1995. It was on 5th August when the Croatian army liberated Knin, which was the capital of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Land. The entrance of the Croatian army to the capital (Knin) is symbolic in the reclaim of land that was taken by the Serbs. Every year the main and official celebration of the national day is held in the city of Knin. Other commemorative places which can be seen in the public space of Knin include the monument called “Oluja 95” and the flag on top of Knin’s hill. For Croats the 5th of August is a symbol of victory over the enemy and of respect for their own heroes and defenders. In the mind of most Croats, this day is completely worth its anniversary and commemoration and for many it is treated with the same level of respect as that of a holy day. In my analysis I will look at: the forms of commemoration used during the 5th of August, the symbols that accompany the anniversary, people’s thoughts (social actors – Croats and politicians), which moments, dates and heroes of croatian history are remembered, which points are highlighted, and what speeches and references are made by the Croatian politicians. This day has a very strong impact on the Croatian collective memory and the people have created a tradition to celebrate it, maintain it and to pass it from generation to generation.Furthermore, I would like to answer to the folowing questions: Can we find any moment when the Serbian victims are commemorated during the anniversary? Are there any other place where Croats are celebrating the 5th of August in a less formal atmosphere which is not under the protocol arrangements? Why the Cavoglave celebration is so popular among the Croats?

Kate Buckley 

‘The public’s image of O’Connell Street as a place for spontaneous assembly, meetings or protests, confers a hallmark of civic character of which any town should be proud.’

(Irish Times, 17 April 2001)

O’Connell Street is the pre-eminent street in Dublin and ‘there is no other street in the Republic which has such an unequivocal role as Ireland’s main street’ (Irish Times, 22 February 1998). O’Connell Street is a fundamental component of the urban tissue of Dublin and of Ireland. It is key to understanding and perceiving the urban fabric. Streets are complex material objects that are used for work, worship, to live in, socialise and play. They have the power to connect the present with the past. They are places where the repetition of everyday activities can become charged with significance, invoking memories of people and events. O’Connell Street has been appropriated by both the public and the state for commemorations, protests, parades, demonstrations and funerals. No work has investigated why or how the street became a space for ritual.The urban landscape of O’Connell Street stimulates a visual memory, which has afforded it to becoming a ritual space. ‘It is a platform for speaking to the nation’ (Wills, 2009, p.19), that has been used by both the state and the public. It’s scale, shape and location have lent it to becoming a space in which to be seen, which has in turn lent it to becoming the chosen space for extraordinary ritual in the city. The use of the street as a ritual space is embedded in the history and morphology and has become embedded in people’s minds. It is a memory palace of 1916 and the fully lived space of Thirdspace, ‘the chosen space for struggle, liberation and emancipation’ (Soja, 1996, p.68). The public perception of O’Connell Street as a ritual space will be investigated and ideas about O’Connell Street as the main street of the nation played out in relation to the street as a ceremonial or ritual space will be explored. Edwards Soja, the spatial theorist will be looked at and his ideas about Thirdspace will be investigated in relation to O’Connell Street as a ritual or commemorative space.

Barry Stephenson 

The 600th Jubilee of the Council of Constance (1414-1418) is a five-year long celebration inaugurated in June of last year, in Constance, Germany, and its sister city, Tábor, in the Czech Republic. The celebrations in Constance and Tábor will no doubt be characterized by conflicting meanings and interpretations, since the organizers, participants, and visitors will need to incorporate into this otherwise festive occasion the trial and execution of the Czech reformer Jan Hus. The symbolic, ritual, and memorial handling of the figure of Hus will be particularly crucial in 2015, the “Year of Justice”, in which Constance (in close partnership and Tábor) will commemorate the 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus on July 6th. This paper will be based on fieldwork in Constance and Tábor this coming July, documenting and analyzing the festival’s events as they unfold, and interviewing both the  audience and the organizers to understand how the rites and performances (processions, speeches, worship services, museum exhibits) were both conceived and perceived. The precise thesis and argument of the paper will only emerge in the course of fieldwork and analysis. A framing approach, however, is found in the work of sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, who draws attention to the fact that painful memories of events far in the past are not premised on shared experiences per se (we were not present when Jan Hus was executed at the Council of Constance) but rather remembered and constructed as “cultural trauma” in and through social processes and discourses, such as a public jubilee or commemorative event. The approach and ideas developed in this dimension of cultural memory research should be applicable to other festivals and celebrations, since public festivals are not merely celebratory, but often draw upon and open-up painful cultural memories.

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Helen Phelan

In 1994, the same year in which the Irish World Academy was founded, Eugene Garner wrote Aristotle’s Rhetoric: the Art of Character. Described as the most important publication on Aristotle of the 20th century, one of its core proposals is that ethos does not exist in the disembodied world of theoria, but manifests through forms of civic art.  This understanding of ethos suggests that character or value is played out and interrogated through the arts in a number of ways: by ‘characters’ in theatre; through the persuasive powers of music or the representation of character in visual or literary artistic expression. Furthermore, the value of ethos is decided, not so much by the artist as by the audience or community of participants.A number of activities were coordinated throughout 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Irish World Academy. Under the rubric of ‘sounding forward, listening back’, the events and commissions were invited to interact with the ethos of the Academy, as well as providing a space to imagine future directions. Two of these contributions happened under the rubric of the ‘House of Light’, a descriptor used by the architect to describe the building that houses the Academy. One was a ritualized dawn procession marking the opening of the year of celebrations and the other, an artistic commission for a film by international film director, Alan Gilsenan. These will be explored as ‘rehearsals’ (in the Heaney sense of providing a ‘sketch’ rather than a ‘map’ of a given reality) of the Academy’s ethos and act as springboards for a wider discussion, based on the proposal of journalist and broadcaster Vincent Wood, on the potential of commemorative events to act as acute measures of a society’s core values.

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