“Initiated earlier this year, In These Troubled Times investigates economic and social strategies proposed in speculative fictional texts. From Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal to the writing of JG Ballard, our project animates these captivating fictions as preambles to emerging political orders, and examine how these orders might relate to the present conditions of reality. Through a process of performative research, which incorporates theatre, live music, location-based readings and walking tours of Dublin, we hope to expand artistic research to include performative gestures which allow for a plasticity of knowledge. Our études : act, debate, cogitate, perform, gesture, agitate, plan, work and publish.
Through readings, screenings and workshops over the past five months, the group is informed by various and diverging backgrounds such as visual art, architecture, music, theatre, academic research and curating. We want to create an expansive research team that can ‘plug in’ to each other’s knowledge and practices. The members of In These Troubled Times met for the first time in the unlikely location of St Patrick’s Cathedral on a Saturday morning for a location reading of Swift’s 1729 A Modest Proposal . His biting satirical text offers an unlikely exit strategy to the financial crisis of early 18th century Ireland: that the Irish could eat their own children to be saved from financial ruin. The close reading was interrupted by Swift himself who, played on this occasion by the actor David Heap, gave a convincing argument for a solution.
Our second session included Dublin electronic trio Boys of Summer, who made a live soundtrack to Aelita: Queen of Mars, 1924, a Russian film directed by Yakov Protazanov. The screening was hosted in Rua Red, an arts space in Tallaght that incorporates digital residencies and community outreach artistic programmes, as well as visual art exhibitions.
In These Troubled Times also explores possible artistic uses of city spaces, which can be made malleable rather than maintain fixed functions. A dance studio in Rua Red was the site of a performative group reading of JK Gibson Graham’s text ‘The End of Capitalism’; an underground car park served as a site for a choral rendition of James Connolly’s revolutionary song, ‘We Only Want the Earth’, co-ordinated by writer Sue Hasset—an unopened Celtic Tiger hotel lobby hosted the reception of a walking tour around abandoned NAMA architecture of the ‘ghost’ buildings of Dublin with Conor McGarrigle. Further contributions to the group include a screening by artist Jenny Brady, who presented Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin’s film, Chronicle of a Summer, 1960, followed by a discussion about documentary and the relationship between camera and object. Recently, Glasgow-based artist Stina Wirfelt visited the research group to share her current video practice as well as discuss her research into the Dublin’s ‘ghost estates’, a ubiquitous hangover from the boom years.
In These Troubled Times continues. Our forthcoming events include a collaborative live film essay ‘on delinquency’ by Jesse Jones and Fiona Marron. Jones’ practice often explores the hidden historical narratives in culture, while Marron’s practice looks at financial intuitions and contexts. Both artists will use the term ‘delinquent’ to open up possibilities of economic default and imagination, and to explore the cinematic depictions of delinquent teens and renegade economics.”
Current programme available at www.ruarid.ie/digitalstudio