Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ballymun Projects, Dublin, IE

Being a volunteer at the New Museum's Hub & Resource Center, I meet a lot of interesting people on a weekly basis. The last exhibit at the Hub was called Tlatelolco and the localized negotiation of future imaginaries curated by the Museo Tamayo, Tlatelolco, Mexico City, Mexico. Below is the overview by curators Jorge Munguía and Tobias Ostrander.

In approaching the subject of neighborhood or barrio, we address this topic by defining a barrio as a multifaceted, fluctuating structure that contains within it not only a particular identification with a site, but also with a set of human relationships, ideals and visions about what a particular space is and can possibly become. We recognize this collective identification as representing shared desire or desires and as such the notion of barrio inherently involves the projection of a future imaginary or potentiality.

Tlatelolco's history plays a huge role in the concept of neighborhood. Tlatelolco is well known for being situated around the Plaza de las tres culturas wherein the Spanish, Aztec and post-colonial influence are represented. This was the site of protests which resulted in the massacre of over 300 students, two weeks before the '68 Olympics in Mexico City. Shortly thereafter, there was an earthquake that devastated Tlatelolco. Tlatelolco is almost a forgotten part of Mexico City, a section of the city that gets little attention from its own government. Through the artists' pieces that were exhibited at the Hub, the sentiment that Tlatelolco's inhabitants are uninvolved and lack the initiative to take control of their own pueblo seems to resonate above all.

A woman from Dublin was visiting the museum and told me about the Ballymun Hotel in Dublin. Unlike Tlatelolco, a city loittered with vacant buildings and lasting impressions of the marginalization of those without money and government support, Ballymun took its social stature and used it artistically. Ballymun's original seven towers have mostly been demolished but, Clarke Tower (which has since been torn down), was turned into a hotel, used to engage Ballymun's inhabitants in a more artistic/cultural sense.


From Ballymun Hotel's webpage:

Guests at Hotel Ballymun were able to appreciate the spectacular views over Dublin, just weeks before these views ceased to exist. Clarke Tower is due for demolition in Summer 2007.

In addition to the nine individually designed, single and double bedrooms there was a garden room, a tv lounge, communal kitchen, reception area, breakfast and seating area, as well as an intimate conference and events centre.

The rooms were furnished with one-off pieces, customised and remodelled from existing furniture, which were designed and made by people from the Ballymun area, during a two month series of workshops with Irish design duo Sticks and recent RCA graduate Jonathan Legge.

A diverse programme of cultural and social events took place in the Hotel. Talks, live art and music performances took place at the Hotel throughout the day and in the evenings. From 2.00 p.m to 5 p.m daily there was also a chance for the general public to take the lift up to view Hotel Ballymun. There were a maximum of twenty places in the audience or for participants, depending on the nature of the event, making for an intimate and memorable experience.

The concept of neighborhood and claiming one's community as their own is an interesting and engaging theme that applies heavily to art and the arts. What is it that makes one feel a sense of community? What is that pulls community members apart? How does this effect art and how can art effect it? How can we engage community and the arts as a combined force for the beautification and betterment of the places we live?

The New Museum's next exhibit is entitled Dongducheon: A Walk to Remember A Walk to Envision and is opening this week, curated by the Insa Art Space from Seoul, SK.

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