The Douglas Hyde is delighted to share details of this upcoming talk by Dr John Bosco Conama on the history of Irish Sign Language in the context of Amanda Coogan’s Freude! Freude! project. An interpreter will be present at this talk to provide Irish Sign Language (ISL) interpretation. Booking required. Please use the link on this page to […]
Amanda Coogan in collaboration with Alvean Jones and Lianne Quigley with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf and the Centre for Deaf Studies
The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art is excited to present a new work by renowned performance artist Amanda Coogan, Deaf artists Lianne Quigley and Alvean Jones with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf (DTD) and students from the Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) at Trinity College Dublin. Freude! Freude! is a live exhibition, an embodied performance and installation which translates Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ode to Joy chorus into Irish Sign Language (ISL) and reinterprets the entire symphony through the lens of the Deaf experience. Using ISL as a choreographic language, Coogan, Quigley and Jones have worked with DTD and students from the CDS to produce an aural, visual and immersive feast that will be presented through a series of performances and exhibition installation.
Performance artist Amanda Coogan is known for her highly visual and physical works presented through durational performances within gallery spaces as live exhibitions. Born to Deaf parents, ISL was her first language, and it has continued to have a profound influence on her practice. The Dublin Theatre for the Deaf was founded over 45 years ago as a community theatre company and is a stalwart of the Deaf community in Ireland producing ISL plays and delivering long-term advocacy for the richness of ISL. Coogan and Dublin Theatre for the Deaf have previously collaborated on works including Talk Real Fine, Just Like a Lady presented as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2017. The Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) is part of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. It was established in 2001 following years of campaigning by the Irish Deaf Society and other organisations, and is the only university offering Deaf Studies related courses on the island of Ireland.
This wide ensemble has come together for the first time to develop this new work Freude! Freude!, employing Beethoven’sSymphony No. 9 in D minor as its structural core. This revolutionary symphony, considered one of the greatest works in the classical music repertoire, was first presented on 7 May 1824 in Vienna to immediate applause at a time when Beethoven himself could no longer hear. As writer Fiona Maddocks has written in 100 Works to Carry You Through Music, “Musical history is full of turning points. Beethoven’s Ninth broke the symphonic mould.” A powerful example of conflict between light and darkness, in the 1980s it was adopted as the European Union’s anthem, noting “In the universal language of music, this anthem expresses the European ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity.” It has become known as an anthem of both protest and peace. With the climate emergency, the ongoing war in Europe, and persistent struggles for equality, its universal message continues to resonate, reminding us of our collective responsibility to build a more harmonious and inclusive world.
Beethoven was completely deaf when writing his masterpiece. In embodying his music from an Irish Deaf community perspective, Coogan, Quigley, Jones and the DTD and students from CDS bring with them not just a beauty in performance but also offer an embodiment of the struggle for acceptance, recognition and equality. The Deaf community in Ireland has faced numerous challenges in gaining recognition and in the acceptance of ISL as a legitimate language. For many years, there was a prevailing belief that sign languages were a lesser form of communication and that Deaf individuals should be encouraged to lip-read and speak instead. It wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that grass roots Deaf organisations began agitating for therecognition of ISL and the rights of the Deaf community. In 2017, the Irish government gave formal recognition to ISL (Irish Sign Language) through the enactment of the Irish Sign Language Act. This Act designates ISL as the community language of the deaf community in Ireland and requires public services to accommodate the use of ISL when interacting with deaf individuals who choose to do so. Schools for the Deaf and other educational institutions have incorporated ISL into curricula, empowering Deaf children to learn and express themselves in their native language.
Sign is a language in motion, a form of communication that manifests on the body with choreographic impact. Coogan, DTD and students from the CDS bring with them physical dexterity, the beauty of ISL and political zeal. Translating this iconic aural work from Beethoven is daringly ambitious. Claiming him as a deaf artist and re-imagining his work through the Deaf experience delivers an artwork of outstanding breadth. Freude! Freude! is an aural and visual feast with a special recording of the symphony playing out across the space and a series of daily performances with all four movements presented every Saturday and Sunday (14/15 and 21/22 October). The performances will take place amid Coogan’s site-specific installation that marries the extended arms of generations of worn clothes across the span of the cavernous and double-height space of Gallery 1 of The Douglas Hyde to the sound of the symphony. Freude! Freude! is a visually stunning new work of performance art, re-framing the experiences of the oppressed, claiming equality and celebrating Deaf people and their culture, ISL and everyone’s creativity.
Amanda Coogan presents solo performances of Movements from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at 1pm and 3pm
- Wednesday 11 and 18 October: Movement 1
- Thursday 12 and 19 October: Movement 2
- Friday 13 and 20 October: Movement 3
Coogan, Quigley, Jones and ensemble performs to the full score of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, including the Ode to Joy Chorus, between 1pm – 3pm
- Saturday 14 and 21 October: Full score
- Sunday 15 and 22 October: Full score
The exhibition continues until Sunday 29 October.
No booking is required, and admission is free as always.
Note: Flash performances will be held across Trinity College’s campus and in Meeting House Square in Temple Bar on Friday 22nd September 2023 during Culture Night as part of Irish Sign Language Awareness Week.
Irish Sign Language is the first and/or preferred language of 5,000 Deaf people in Ireland and approximately 40,000 people in general will communicate in ISL (family, friends, co-workers, etc). ISL is the indigenous language of the Deaf community and research shows that sign languages are full languages with complex linguistic structure, rules and features. It is a visual and spatial language with its own distinct grammar and not only is it a language of the hands, but also of the face and body. ISL is different from all other sign languages such as British Sign Language, American Sign Language etc. Ireland is unique in that we have gendered sign language, men and women in Ireland having different sign languages due to being educated in separate schools. The Deaf community sees itself as a linguistic and cultural minority group as opposed to being disabled. Source:
Amanda Coogan is an internationally recognised and critically acclaimed artist working across media; through live art, performance, photography and video. She is one of the most dynamic and exciting contemporary visual artist’s practicing in the arena of performance and has performed and exhibited her work extensively including: the Broad Museum, Michigan; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida; The Neimeyer Centre, Spain; The MAC, Belfast; Lismore Castle Arts, Waterford; HOME, Manchester; The Golden Thread, Belfast; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Contemporary Irish Art Centre LA, Los Angeles; The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; the Venice Biennale, Liverpool Biennial, The LAB, Dublin; Limerick City Gallery of Art; PS1, New York, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, West Cork Arts Centre; Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris and the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin. Coogan studied painting at Limerick School of Art and Design, and holds a degree in Sculpture from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. She was a Masters student of artist Marina Abramovic at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Braunschweig, Germany. In 2013 she was awarded her PhD “Deconstructing and Reconstructing live Durational Performance in the Gallery” from the University of Ulster, Belfast. She is an occasional lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin; Limerick School of Art and Design; the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin; Technical University Dublin and Crawford College of Art, Cork.
The Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) is part of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, and was established in 2001 following years of campaigning by the Irish Deaf Society and other organisations, and is the only university offering Deaf Studies related courses on the island of Ireland. The aims of the CDS are:
- To increase the number of qualified Irish Sign Language/ English interpreters. Before the Centre for Deaf Studies was established, there were very few qualified interpreters in Ireland. This course provides professional training for interpreters ensuring that Deaf people are actively involved in society.
- To set the highest standard of ISL teaching.
- To provide training in the area of Deaf Studies.
Further information on the Centre for Deaf Studies here.
The Dublin Theatre of the Deaf is the Deaf–led community based Theatre Company producing two plays annually in Irish Sign Language serving the Deaf community nationally. DTD was established over forty years ago and is a stalwart of the Deaf Community in Ireland. It is a voluntary, community-based theatre company consisting of 10 core members; 8 actors and 2 design and production members in addition several volunteers. The age range stretches from mid 20s to mid 50s with the gender balance equal between women and men. Importantly, all their company members are ISL users, that is they choose ISL as their preferred language and therefore identify as culturally Deaf.
DTD expand their work to speak more directly to mainstream society, bringing with them, not just a physical dexterity and beauty in performance but also a raw political zeal of a company that is bursting to show the beauty of their language; ISL, and the riches of their community. Their plays run in the Deaf Village Ireland with recent productions including ‘1916’, directed by Lianne Quigley and Mrs Orange’s Journey, directed by John Cradden, both original plays in ISL and developed with the company, in 2016. Many of our company members are keen historians and research and develop plays on and about Deaf history, these include The Deaf Ghost written by the DTD Company and directed by Ian Plant and Murder at the Hotel written and directed by Dominic McGreal. Our award winning production The Rejected Child, written by Josephine O’Leary in 1992 was revived for the third time in 2012 and directed by Ian Plant. And in 2011 Alvean Jones wrote and directed The Deaf Book: The story of an Irish Deaf Man in the 18th Century.
Alvean Jones – Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, Director. Alvean is very much involved in the Deaf Community, serving on a multitude of committees, and teaching adult and continuing education, but she is also a writer, and performer. One of the leading lights at the Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, Alvean has taken on roles of actor, director, researcher and writer, over her time with them. She is regularly seen on RTE as an onscreen ISL presenter. Alvean translated and performed the official ISL copy of the 1916 Proclamation for that year’s anniversary commemorations. She has worked with Amanda Coogan since performing her ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art in 2005.
Lianne Quigley – Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, Artistic Director. Lianne is the chairperson of the Dublin Theatre of the Deaf and dreams of DTD productions playing to the mainstream theatre world. She is a Deaf activist and one of the leaders for the campaign for the legal recognition of her language, Irish Sign Language, which was achieved in 2017. Lianne is also chairperson of the Irish Deaf Society; the Deaf-led civil rights campaign and she was involved in the setting up of the Disabled Peoples Organisation (DPO) a coalition with several disability-lead representative organization in late 2019.
This project is supported by The Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon through a Project Award.
Image: Amanda Coogan, Dublin Theatre of the Deaf and the Cork Deaf Choir, Ode to Joy (performance still), 2023, Cork Midsummer Festival. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Jed Niezgoda.
The accompanying music is a performance of Symphony No. 9 by the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Brophy, with a specially-formed choir and Irish and European soloists. Recording courtesy of the Department of Foreign Affairs, who in May 2023 hosted EU50 Gala Concert of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the National Concert Hall, in association with the European Commission and European Parliament to celebrate 50 Years of Ireland’s Membership of the European Union.
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