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Unearthing Empire

Saturday 11 November 2023

About the event

Unearthing Empire examines Ireland’s relationship to colonialism; occupying the position of the colonised, but also its role in upholding colonial structures at home and abroad.

Comprising of screenings of key works by Kerry Guinan & Anthony O’Connor, Frank Sweeney, and Eimear Walshe, a panel discussion bringing together artistic and academic voices, a newly commissioned sculpture by Christopher McMullan, and presentation of an ongoing work by Vukašin Nedeljković, the programme reflects on the ways colonial dynamics continue to play out today; from the condition of the refugee, to global supply chains and the extractive nature of industrial capitalism. Unearthing Empire looks at the history of land struggles in Ireland and responds to the gallery’s location on the grounds of Trinity College.

Taking place against the backdrop of current  and ongoing reckonings with colonial pasts, Unearthing Empire challenges our ideas of European imperialism and the project of modernity. It explores how we continue to be implicated in these systems, and how we cannot solve these lasting issues by simply renaming monuments or returning artefacts.

This event has been developed by Aisling Clark, the Provost’s Fellow in Curating 2023 at The Douglas Hyde. It has emerged through her longstanding interest in decolonization, building on research at masters and undergraduate level, situating this within the context of Trinity College and Ireland more broadly.

This is a free event but booking is required.


Saturday 11 November 2023

13:00 – 14:30 | Film Screenings

Welcome by Provost Linda Doyle, followed by an introduction by Aisling Clark and screenings:

Eimear Walshe, The Land Question (2020).
Kerry Guinan and Anthony O’Connor, The Red Thread (2022).
Frank Sweeney, People Enjoy My Company (2021).

14:30 – 14:45 | Break

14:45 – 15:45 | Panel Discussion

Speakers: Kerry Guinan (Artist), Dr Ciaran O’Neill, (Associate Professor in Nineteenth-Century History and Co-Principal Investigator of Trinity Colonial Legacies Project), and Frank Sweeney (Artist). Moderated by Aisling Clark.

All Day | Artwork

Christopher McMullan, Muc chaor (2023).

Site-specific commission, Entrance level of The Douglas Hyde.

From 6 to 19 November | Artwork

Vukašin Nedeljković, Asylum Archive (2007–ongoing).

Video presentation, The Douglas Hyde screen, Nassau Street entrance to TCD.



Aisling Clark is an emerging curator based in Dublin. She has curated projects as a Co-Director of the artist-run space Embassy, Edinburgh, and assisted with the annual shows of the Exhibiting Societies of Scottish Artists. As a graduate of the MSc Modern & Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism at the University of Edinburgh, she was awarded the Baldwin Brown dissertation prize for her thesis on the art collective Ruangrupa and Documenta Fifteen. Clark holds an LLB Law from Trinity College Dublin, where she was a Reid Scholar and undertook her capstone research project on the repatriation of cultural objects and decolonizing museums. Before commencing as the Provost’s Fellow in Curating at the Douglas Hyde in late 2022 , she worked at the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh,recontextualizing exhibitions from the gallery’s archive.⁠

Kerry Guinan is a conceptual artist working to critique labour and property relations under neoliberal capitalism. Characterised by its ambitious, risk-taking approach, her practice crosses the disciplines of performance, delegated performance, installation, public art, photography, and digital media to bring these relations into sharp focus. Recent projects include Sell Nothing, a public artwork with Andrew Keogh in Limerick City (2021), her global-scale solo exhibition Our Celestial Sphere at Pallas Projects/Studios (2019), and the curation of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts: Tactical Magic (2019).  She is based in Limerick, Ireland.

Christopher McMullan a Dublin-based artist, who has recently graduated from Sculpture & Expanded Practice with Critical Cultures at NCAD. Before this, he spent 10 years working in avant-garde kitchens across the United States and Spain. In these restaurants, the division between science and craft is often blurred, leading him to explore aroma’s powerful connection to memory, which has informed his artistic practice to date. Christopher’s graduate work, Perfumer’s Organ, was Highly  Commended for the NCAD Staff Prize 2023, and was shortlisted for the RDS Visual Art Awards, which will be exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in December. Most recently, he created the exhibition architecture for Long time we’ve been working, curated by Sara Greavu at Project Arts Centre.

Vukasin Nedeljkovic is an artist, activist, and independent scholar. They have been working on the multidisciplinary Asylum Archive project since 2007. In 2020, they initiated Fortress EU, which involves researching, documenting, and mapping migrant detention localities in Greece, France, and Italy. Most recently, they were an artist-in-residence at Zico house in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2017, they were awarded the Arts and Activism bursary from the Arts Council/Create and published the Asylum Archive book. In 2021 Asylum Archive featured in The Narrow Gate of the Here – and – Now: Queer Embodiment exhibition to mark 30 years of IMMA in Dublin. In 2021 Disavowing Asylum: Documenting Irelands Asylum Industrial Complex, a book by Ronit Lentin and Vukasin Nedeljkovic was published by Rowman and Littlefield.

Anthony O’Connor (b. 1996) lives and works in Dublin, where he makes images. Anthony employs carefully considered cinematography techniques and imaging technologies to explore his ideas. His work involves in-depth critical reflections on the contemporary in spaces both physical and digital, gathered in an intuitive process on site and assembled into short presentations combining text with image and sound installed in physical space. Interested in the expanded function and form of images, Anthony experiments with pre-photographic and post-lens imaging techniques. He asks how images structure our relationship to each other and our environments. More often than not this work is rooted in collaboration.

Dr Ciaran O’Neill is the Ussher Associate Professor in Nineteenth-Century History at Trinity College Dublin. His research interests include social and cultural history, the history of education and elites, the Irish relationship with empire, modern literature, and public history. O’Neill published Catholics of Consequence: Transnational Education, Social Mobility and the Irish Catholic Elite, 1850–1900 (2014), and is preparing a monograph entitled Life in a Palliative State: Power and Powerlessness in Union Ireland (forthcoming in 2023). He is co-director of the Trinity Colonial Legacies project.

Frank Sweeney is an artist with a research-based practice, using found material to approach questions of collective memory, experience and identity through film and sound. He has presented work at public arts institutions and galleries including the CCA, Derry, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, and IMMA. His film Made Ground (2021) with Eva Richardson McCrea was acquired by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Collection. His most recent film, Few Can See was commissioned by EVA International as part of the Platform Commissions initiative, and presented at the 40th EVA International 2023. Recent awards include aemi & SIRIUS Film Commission 2022, the Arts Council’s Next Generation Award, Film Bursary and Project Award, a Project Studio at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios.

Eimear Walshe (b. 1992, they/them) is an artist from Longford. In 2024 they will represent Ireland at the 60th Venice Biennale. They currently work between Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin, and Limerick City. Their work traces the legacy of late 19th century land contestation in Ireland through private property, sexual conservatism, and the built environment. They have recently exhibited with Van Abbemuseum, EVA International, the National Sculpture Factory, and Temple Bar Gallery & Studios. Their work is in the collections of the Arts Council and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. They travel widely across the island of Ireland screening, reading, and performing their work.


Access and Facilities: If you have access needs that are not listed below, would like any other resources, or have further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are always interested to learn what more we can do to improve our services and facilities and to support you and your visit to the gallery. Email our Learning and Engagement Curator, Fernando Sánchez-Migallón Cano on or call: +353 1 896 1116.

Physical Access: The Douglas Hyde is situated on the campus of Trinity College, the University of Dublin. The entrance door into the space is on the left of the Nassau Street Gate into the campus. The front door is on first floor level and leads visitors to the reception desk and bookshop. A cantilevered staircase with 16 steps descends to the ground floor of Gallery 1. There are three steps or a ramp access to a lower level and Gallery 2.

There is lift access to the lower floors of the Gallery in the Arts Building of Trinity College.

Assistance animals are always welcome.

Address and Contact

The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art
Nassau Street
Trinity College
Dublin 2

+ 353 (0)1 896 1116


Image Credits

Eimear Walshe, The Land Question,  (2020), single-channel video. Courtesy the artist and Arts Council Collection.

Vukašin Nedeljković, Old Rectory Direct Provision Centre, New Ross, Co. Wexford, Asylum Archive, (2007–ongoing). Courtesy the artist.


Vukašin Nedeljković, Lissywollen Accommodation Direct Provision Center, Athlone, Asylum Archive (2007–ongoing). Courtesy the artist.

Frank Sweeney, People enjoy my company, (2021), single-channel video. Animation by Andrew Loughnane. Courtesy the artist.