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Documentation of NCAD Graduate Show

June 22, 2009

Nearer my God to Thee

Nearer My God To Thee

This performance was executed in early May outside the Thomas St Social Welfare Office in Dublin. I spent time during the previous two months doing casual interviews with newly unemployed people who were claiming benefits at the office. Most of them felt anxious about the future. I brought along a string trio to play a calming piece of music outside the office, in the busking formula.

I also brought the musicians to play outside the dormant building site of Anglo-Irish Bank’s colossal planned headquarters on North Wall Quay near the East Link Toll bridge in the Docklands. Since that bank’s fall into disgrace, work has ceased on the site. It now stands as a reminder of both corporate opulence and our country’s crushed confidence.

Sell Your SkillsSell Your Skills

I made this stall in response also to those people I interviewed at the Welfare Office. Most of the felt frustration at being dependent on the Department of Social Welfare for income. Thus I made a source of income that also referred to and indeed promoted the scene of re-learning old skills. In every recession, people learn how to do jobs that they would have otherwise paid professionals to do, and to fix appliances that they would have otherwise replaced. This recession is no exception to that.

In the next ten years, it is likely that world oil production will peak. This means for us that the price of petrol will begin to rise irreversibly. This will cause economic globalisation to reverse, and local production of food and goods will make sense again. The kinds of skills I bought and sold at this stall will become much more useful in such an eventuality. They will make our communities more resilient to economic shocks. Read about movements happening now at the website of  Transition Towns.

I decided that I wanted to not just reflect on the economy, but to participate in it. People could buy skill sheets – instructions on how to do a money-saving job, for €3. They could also write their own and sell that to me for €5, thus making a profit. In the interest of transparency, a large photocopy of my subsidy cheque from the NCAD was displayed with a sliding scale to show how much money I had left to fund the stall’s business. In the graduate show, above, and on the street outside the Social Welfare Office, below (photo by Phil Ryan).

on the street

Dole Theatre A Media Circus

This work consisted of a television mounted on a stack of newspapers. It derived from my feeling that I was using the Welfare Office as a sort of theatre of the recession. I also believed that the media was narrating the recession as a tragic drama story, especially in the period October 2008 to April 2009.

Other relevant websites include, but are not limited to:

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 23, 2009 22:58


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