Commemoration is performative — it offers a constitutive, re-presentation of history in the here and now. It is a way of engaging with the past while informing future comprehensions of legacies. In turn, performance art offers embodied scenarios of remembrance and forgetting as the bodies and actions of artists become transmitters of memory. ‘Future Histories’, curated by Niamh Murphy and Áine Phillips, took place at Kilmainham Gaol on 21 May. From 10am until 10pm, live and digital media artists transformed the former prison, the site where most of the 1916 Easter Rising rebellion leaders were imprisoned and then executed. Participating artists included: Michelle Browne, Fergus Byrne, Brian Connolly, Pauline Cummins, Francis Fay, Debbie Guinnane, Sandra Johnston, Dr. Laura McAtackney, Danny McCarthy, Ciara McKeon, Alastair McLennan, Níamh Murphy, Katherine Nolan, Sinéad O’Donnell, Méabh Redmond, Dominic Thorpe, and Helena Walsh.
While the inspiration for the event was the centenary celebration of the Easter Rising, the contributions of participating artists goes beyond the context of that historical moment. These artists offer an alternative means of experiencing history that emphasize affective, corporeal networks, as opposed to the archive, written texts, or other static documentation that focus on historical objects. The purpose is not to consolidate authenticate narratives of the past, but through the live, embodiment of memory, artists draw attention to our processes of remembrance and forgetting. The ephemeral nature of these aesthetic encounters provide transform cultural memories into a creative impetus while opening new means of engaging with this history.
Text by EL Putnam
For more information about Future Histories from curator Áine Phillips, see: http://www.artscouncil.ie/Art-2016/Future-Histories/