Alarm Bells: Dublin Selected *295


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On October 28th in introducing its Waking the Nation programme, the promo video for the Abbey Theatre quoted the 1916 rebel and Abbey actress Helena Molony: "We Saw A Vision of Ireland, Free, pure, happy. We did not realise this vision but we saw it."

Another actress stated: "We thought we were going to be part of this big thing (to free our country)". It's somewhat ironic now that while women would constitute 100% of the promo video, only 10% would be part of the reality.

By the afternoon spurred on by Lian Bell's identification of the glaring female imbalance in the programme, a social media storm was brewing. It was clear that their vision for theatre in 2016 represented a blinkered one which was borne out of unwitting biases and ingrained attitudes. Sure everyone loves a revival of The Plough and the Stars right?

This afternoon at 1pm, The Abbey Theatre is likely to see a record attendance and standby list for any production in living memory. A myriad of articulate voices have been galvanised under the #WakingTheFeminists banner.

While The Abbey has proven the lightning rod, they are certainly not the only cultural organisation who need to examine their rhetoric, support and policies towards equality and diversity at all levels. Hopefully the thrilling energy unleashed by this campaign will lead to a spate of constructive contributions and initiatives which will lead to a vision not just being seen but being realised.

Who wants to be part of this big thing to free our theatre this week? Michael or Stephanie?

Mick Foley: 50 Years of Foley

by Zara Hedderman

The Dublin Book Festival

by Zara Hedderman

Fujiya & Miyagi

By Michael McDermott

Dublin Arabic Film Festival

by Stephanie Kelly

Trop Pop is 3!

by Amelia O'Mahony-Brady

The Dublin Rave Market #001 • Retail While You Rave

by Amelia O'Mahony-Brady

The Fear of 13

by Stephanie Kelly

Dublin Vintage Factory + H&G / Kilo Sale

by Amelia O'Mahony-Brady

DeargdhĂșil: Anatomy of Passion

by Stephanie Kelly


by Zara Hedderman

Steve Jobs

By Michael McDermott

Surface Tension

by Sophie Donaldson

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn

By Nigel Wood


by Amelia O'Mahony-Brady

Indigo & Cloth

by Amelia O'Mahony-Brady

This week we spoke to two of the creatives involved in the upcoming Cave Paintings event, Dimitra Xidous and Michelle Costello. Dimitra and Michelle are one of ten pairs of contemporary writers and artists that will be responding to one another's work and showcasing their final pieces at the exhibition. One of the organisers of Cave Writings, D. Joyce-Ahearne, was also present to fill us in on the details and process behind the Cave.

Photo Credit: John Scully

Can you tell us a little about the Cave and why you made the transition to the visual?
D: We started it in February this year. We always felt the need to create a space more than a night, a space where people can come to chat, perform, and read. More so than a night, it fosters relationships with creatives that you may not have met otherwise. We just wanted a community of people that would come together in a casual setting, very casual- I cannot stress that enough. Cave Paintings was kind of the logical next step. The biggest thing about the Cave has always been the human element. We found there was very little overlap across disciplines, so what we had in mind was a one on one exchange between writer and artist.

What was the process behind the pairings?
D: We chose some of our favourite artists from the NCAD fourth year graduate show. We had the writers in mind at that point, so when deciding the artists we thought, what do we see in their projects that could work, or alternatively who are so disparate that if we pushed them together it may or may not work. We thought there was a lot of similarities with Dimitra and Michelle's projects, there was a lot of elements that ran through each other's work

Dimitra and Michelle, can you tell us a little bit about your artistic background and style?
Dimitra: I'm a poet, and I guess the quick and dirty of it is that I read a poem by Leonard Cohen at fifteen and it was sexy and sensual and I dug into him and started discovering new artists. I started to take myself seriously as a writer after I came back from a 5 week writing sabbatical in Madrid in 2008 and a year and a half later I decided to move to Dublin (from Canada) for a year, just to write, just sit at a kitchen table and write, write, write and when the year was up I quit my job, stayed in Dublin, and published my first book (Keeping Bees) a year and a half ago. My style is visceral and sensual, I'm very engaged with my own body, and other bodies, I'm curious about them. […] There's a physicality to my work, and I'm very interested in how the word sounds, feels to say and how it looks on the page. I like to go across all of the senses in my work.

Michelle: I never did art in school, but I started to take night classes in NCAD, and then I just got the bug for it and got a degree in Fine Art Sculpture. I worked quite organically, I didn't even know what my style was. I think what really gets my heart ticking is social and personal issues. I've previously did a piece on the over-sexualisation of teenage girls in magazines, and my degree piece was the obsession with social media and how compliant we have become with it, it was entitled 'If you think something is for free you most likely are the product.' I also did a piece about my mam's Parkinson's disease and her life in a nursing home. The piece which I think Dimitra will be looking at is the cardigan piece. I bought a cardigan for my mother, and it is very my mother, it's glittery and my mam was very glamorous and it's her tone. Her name is on it for laundry in the nursing home as things would often go missing, so it was very much hers. It had a motor which unravelled it- unravelling away like time.

Do you usually work in isolation, if so, how have you found the collaborative process?
Dimitra: Yes, I think we as writers understand the need to be by ourselves. What was interesting though in the lead up to the book coming out was I found myself going to people seeking advice from those I trusted. I had an artist friend and I asked her if she wanted to do the cover. The one thing I wanted was myself in it holding peaches and I wanted something dali-esque. She did exactly what I wanted. I told her I feel like it was a joint project, as that's the first thing people will see. […] A book isn't just there to be beautiful, I want you to engage with it, doing that collaboration was really important to me. I think that's what made it so easy to work with Michelle. When you enter into a collaboration you can't be so precious about your work. I'm really interested in seeing what she's going to do with my work.

Michelle: I've also done collaborations before in NCAD, but it was different, where everyone is working towards the one end product. What's great about this is we are responding to each other's work. Dylan married us together believing there was a synergy there to start with, which is a difficult one as we never met each other. It's sort of like a weird date, it could have gone horribly wrong.

Had you any experience of each other's work before you were paired?
Dimitra: No, I was going to do some research, but I decided that I wanted to hear her talk about her work first. As soon as she did I knew the piece I wanted to engage with, and seeing the photograph of the cardigan it just reaffirmed for me that that was the one I was most interested in. I found myself having really interesting conversations with myself in terms of motherhood, and the body and thinking about my own mom and relationship with her. I thought it was really interesting to consider how different objects carry different meanings in different contexts.

Michelle: I tend not to sit down with the written a lot but with this project I have. Her work is so personal, she's revealing things about her life in here (referring to Keeping Bees) I carry it around a lot. I originally went for one of the shorter ones, it deals with the strength of women which we will be dealing with at the exhibition. […] That's what's so great about this project, Ireland is such an amazing place for clever, artistic, beautiful people and we just don't cross paths.

Dimitra: I would love to see more of these types of events where writing is exhibited rather than performed. I think performance is really important, but in terms of the exhibition, writing doesn't get a platform in the same way as the visual. As a writer my work will exist, for the most part, in the pages of something as a physical thing. What's really interesting about this project is, because I'm so visceral and physical I feel this is going to be like, sort of walking into the pages of a journal, and seeing something physical in a very different way. It's a nice way to get people to interact with something they may find intimidating. It's a way of breaking boundaries and allowing artists to exist in each other's spaces.

Cave Paintings will take place in Molloy & Dowling from the 16th-20th November.

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