Presentations and Workshop Abstracts
Black Irish Contemporary Cultural Production and Social Processes
Registos Bantu – Corporeality, Memory and Placement
Grasping ideas around Black diasporic sonority and modes of cultural regeneration, this talk connects to the public billboard presented at Gardiner Place, Dublin, and made in collaboration with sound producer Danilo FKA Dj Danifox as a performer. Paris prompts an autobiographical method to contemplate heritage and sonic inheritance of the Bantu philosophy from Southern Africa.
Henrique J. Paris, Artist
‘They don’t do much in the cane-hole way’, Hidden Histories of the Irish Diaspora in Jamaica
Marianne Keating’s practice-based research addresses the hidden histories of the Irish diaspora in Jamaica by narratively reconstructing aspects of this history in a series of multi-layered interconnected films. Keating examines the overlooked history of the migration of Irish indentured labourers to Jamaica between 1835 and 1842, during Ireland’s colonial rule by Britain, and the resulting legacy of the Irish diaspora on contemporary Jamaica. This can be seen through the Irish-Descended Jamaican Creole political leaders who formed the two-party political system in Jamaica in the 1930s and later became Prime Ministers in an “Independent” Jamaica. Keating’s research examines the continued legacy of colonialism after independence in 1962 and resulting political violence, an impact of the enduring two-party political system and the alleged CIA’s attempt to destabilise Michael Manley’s government in the 1970s.
Keating approaches this history in two ways: through official government documents held largely at the Irish, English and Jamaican National Archives and local archives; and through the living histories by visiting key sites of Irish immigration of this period in Jamaica and recording the material and visual traces of Irish migrants. By reconstructing these various archival forms and evidence through an artistic practice, Keating begins to voice what has been previously rendered mute and creates an intervention into the archive that propels an overlooked area of Irish and Jamaican history.
Through these expanded archival practices, Keating’s research interrogates themes of race, capitalism, colonialism, geopolitical analysis, history, the archive, and the personal. Expanding the narrative in response to the dominant ‘master narratives’ of Western nationhood, identity and culture, Keating also readdresses the current cultural and political histories and inserts Irish Caribbean-ness into existing accounts of the dominated colonial “Other”.
Marianne Keating, Artist and Researcher
Moving from Ally to Accomplice – A comparative analysis of Alice Rekab’s ‘Family Lines’ and Stanley Février’s ‘Museum of the Invisible’ in positing pragmatism through exhibition making
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada, has recently displayed the work of 25 overlooked and marginalised artists in a landmark exhibition called, ‘Museum of the Invisible’. These artists were extended the opportunity to show by invitation through artist Stanley Février who created a framework within the institution as part of his own artwork, thus sharing visibility.
Alice Rekab’s exhibition ‘Family Lines’ and its corresponding programme operates on a similar strategy – offering and creating space for inclusive dialogue around the experience of being Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic in Ireland. In this programme, systems that might seem alienating or prove difficult to bureaucratically navigate are opened up to include a multiplicity of perspectives. This contributes to the development of new narratives within the context of contemporary art institutions in Ireland.
In her extended essay, ‘What White People Can Do Next’ Irish author, academic, and broadcaster, Emma Dabiri outlines why it’s important to stop asking those identifying as BAME to carry out the labour of dismantling institutional racism.
Lyon’s paper focuses on Accompliceship in Irish art institutions and communities. Accompliceship is a new term which calls for pragmatism and means ‘being willing to put your own privilege at risk in order to disrupt racism and discrimination in the workplace and beyond’ (Tai Harden-Moore). With a comparative analysis of Février’s action at MMFA and Rekab’s inclusive programme design with DHG, this paper seeks to analyse the generative potential of Accompliceship for creating greater inclusivity through art and exhibition making.
Ingrid Lyons, Writer
Thinking Alice Rekab’s ‘Family Lines’
Importantly, Alice Rekab’s Family Lines disturbs the gaze of the homogenous Irish Identity. Their work relies heavily on their experiences of being mixed-race and Irish to interrogate the ideas of the body, the family, and the nation. Rekab’s exhibition illuminates the terms of Black, African, Female, and Irish Identity. Thus, they de-essentialise the nature of Irish Identity. Irish identity is socially constructed; It is not, and probably never has been, simply a homogenous, biological formulation. Irish identity owes much to, and is created from, different diasporas.
This effort calls to mind Frantz Fanon’s response in Black Skin, White Masks (1952) to Jean-Paul Sartre’s critique of the Negritude Movement (Orphee Noir, 1948) engendered by Leopold Senghor’s Anthologie de la Nouvelle Poesie Negre et Malgache de Langue Francaise (1948). Senghor strove to emphasise black struggle, achievement, and identity at a time when French culture rejected black identity as not being part of what it meant to be essentially French. Sartre, although accepting the need for the Negritude Movement, rejected it as a “racist anti-racism”. By valorising blackness, Sartre felt that the Negritude Movement simply repeated white supremacy over black by creating a paradigm of a black identity that is superior to that of white western identity, in this case French identity.
Fanon’s intervention, in Black Skin, White Masks, takes the form of lessons learned – past, present, and future. He accepts Sartre’s critique of the Negritude Movement but asks that white French dominant cultural identity projects examine their histories of racism and othering. That until the lessons of othering can be learned by dominant culture, it is crucial that black identity speaks itself into existence.
Interestingly, Rekab’s exhibition at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, in 2022, recalls the 20th century’s struggle of Nations and Diasporas to see themselves differently regarding their histories. Rekab asks us to think about race, essentialism, femaleness, maleness, and Irishness. How do we think about ourselves as individuals and, integrate these concepts without losing sight of the lessons to be learned from the earlier debates about identity; and who are we in our future identity constructions?
Dr John Wilkins, Writer and Researcher
Mmiri & I
“This expose will feature my work which has been exploring the relationship that we as respective Africans have with the water. Particularly around the apprehension, sacrilege, fear, reverence and loss, we feel where the water is concerned. I will showcase a performative piece that became my artist interpretation from my residency with DCCCC which looked at the intersection between sport and art.”
Chinedum Muotto, Artist
Darling, Don’t Turn Your Back On Me
“I created Darling, Don’t Turn Your Back on Me to deliver the experience of what it feels like to encounter the gaze of others as welcome, or as a statement of symbolic violence, and how it impacts people who are outside their original cultures.
It’s a multi-disciplinary piece that connects old and new aspects of my practice to create visual storytelling through installation, sound-recording, writing and performance. I wrote the poem and shared it with another 13 people from the Black & Brown community in Ireland, so they could complete the poem with their own words, based on their own experiences. The intention of welcoming the voices of others who share my experiences into the performance was to create a multi-layered form of dialogue using day-by-day communication tools, such as WhatsApp voice notes.
This performance creates the dual vantage points of both looking upon, and being looked upon. Visual metaphors of concave and convex lenses to illustrate two ambivalent world views, likening the experience, for people in new environments, of what it is like to be perceived. Somewhere in-between, both literally and figuratively is the term ‘Reconvex’; popularised by Bahian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso (Reconvexo), which describes a person who can think about subjectivity relationally and feed on other cultures, whilst also being conscious and proud of one’s own ancestry and tradition.”
Thaís Muniz, Artist
Migration / Integration
“The Migration project is a series of portraits based on the ever-changing landscape of the world. The project began in Ireland in 2014 when I saw the poor conditions throughout Europe and heard public opinion on migrants. People are migrating around the world now more than ever and each person or group has their own reason for migration. The story behind this series looks at an individual’s transformation in the new world: wherever they go people build homes and create families. They retain their identities while attempting to take on a new one.
The first part of the series was photographed in Ireland. I started to take pictures of people from a broad spectrum of ethnicities, including individuals from India, Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America. The images were taken in different locations using various light sources, such as natural and studio light, or a mix of both, to best fit the person. Each traces the various ways in which people integrate and make cross-cultural connections in their new homes.
The photographs are layered – a gaze into each person’s personality, while sitting for the session each person is asked a series of questions that reveal more about them. The project weaves various elements together to create a whole new and different perspective to the standard portrait.”
Ishmael Claxton, Artist
The making of Bia! Zine: A migrant storytelling project and food publication
Food is nourishment, joy and comfort. It is a storyteller. A custodian of culture, histories, and peoples. Food is a conduit for celebrating cultural identity, supporting communities, holding space for the ‘other’. Food is a battleground. The last soldier standing. Both the hallmark of resistance and the truce. Bia! (’food’ in Irish; ‘come’ in Igbo) is a part zine / part cookbook / part diary / part archive / complete celebration of food.
Bia! is first and foremost a community storytelling project. Through the words and images of migrant and diasporic communities in Ireland, Bia! seeks to document our commonality and counterbalance mainstream food narratives in Ireland. After this, Bia! assumes the title of food publication spearheaded by a self-professed ‘non-foodie’, it’s both personal and public, an exploration of identity, cultural heritage, resistance, and celebration. Bia! is a permanent representation of the voices, the food, the stories, and the histories of marginalised communities in Ireland.
Bia! Zine was birthed with a clear vision and has garnered interest from chefs, food businesses, journalists, artists, researchers, and writers alike from both migrant communities and otherwise in Ireland and abroad. A first of its kind in Ireland, the making of Bia! Zine has been an experience punctuated with continuous reflection and learning to inform practice in creative production, storytelling and community archiving.
Victory Nwabu-Ekeoma, Writer, Creative Producer, and Global Health Researcher
Community Oracle Reading
“In conversation with Alice Rekab at The Douglas Hyde, I asked them if they dreamed of the crocodiles made from clay that occupy the gallery’s floor. They recounted how they intuitively birthed the forms letting the material express itself. The primordial evolution of humans emerging from the earth. When I went home, I picked from the Adinkra Oracle healing deck by May-Britt Searty. By coincidence, I picked Siamese crocodiles, a symbol of democracy and unity. As the first card of the Second Chakra, it’s about interdependence, which I can appreciate in relation to the similar themes within the Family Lines exhibition. The crocodile as an animal symbol of the Second Chakra and represents the Karma lying dormant in the subconscious. Further research brought me to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He describes the womb of the Karmas ( actions and reactions) which has its root in these obstacles and the Karmas bring experiences in the seen (present) or in unseen (future) births. The Karmas bear fruits of pleasure and pain caused by merit and demerit.
For the symposium, I will conduct a community oracle reading using the Adinkra healing cards. Using the African symbolism of the cards for inspiration the participants will create their own personal symbol/ logo/ sacred seal/sigil referencing the card deck. Utilising their names in conjunction with affirmations, they will create an individualised graphics representing each participant’s use of the letters and affirmations. In practice a creation that is unique to each participant.
Symbolism has been in use since the circle, with many meanings from numerology to the written word, it has no end and no beginning. The use of African symbolism and its many meanings can be read in Dua Afe, a symbol of feminine consideration or good feminine qualities such as patience, prudence, fondness, love, and care.
In English, it translates as a wooden comb, an important item collected for women’s grooming. The symbolism of this item has been used in Hank Willis Thomas’s sculpture in New Orleans entitled
All Power to All People – a giant steel Afro comb adorned with a black power fist and peace sign encompassing multiple symbols in the one sculpture with complex historical contextualisation.”
Samantha Brown, Artist