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By the artist, Aug 7 2017 12:42PM

It’s become clearer to me working in UCD that while theoretically and methodologically I’m at home in the College of Social Sciences and Law, equally ‘fieldwork’ to other colleges and spaces in the university is essential to how the work will take shape here. In particular at UCD I’m interested in spaces that focus on the care, treatment and development of the body. At the vet hospital this month, animal physio Maria Gomez showed me video documentation of animals in treatment (particularly the previous successes of the hydrotherapy pool for dogs with spinal injuries), and we discussed the interpretation of animal pain and the different scales used to access the subjectivity of creatures who don’t vocalize as we do. I was also lucky to visit and photograph the equipment in the high performance gym, courtesy of Adam Grainger and Eamonn Delahunt, which is a fascinating environment, neatly demarcating the line between the pursuit of elite sport and everyday fitness.

I’m a member of the pool and gym here, both for my own personal training and as part of how I’m developing artwork at the moment. Participation in and close analysis of a series of the different fitness classes were essential in how I developed the script for a new work I presented in Stockholm in May, titled BREAKDOWN (video trailer here). This was a lecture performance about capitalism, biopolitics, burnout and trauma that was delivered as a spin class in a gym called Friskis&Svettis (a kind of a co-op model, where members can teach classes in lieu of paying membership – what I was told was a ‘very Swedish’ kind of fitness culture). Scripting text with a consideration of fitness choreography and the performer’s potential breathing difficulty isn’t something I’ve done before. This is probably the most physically demanding performance I have choreographed for an audience, and as participants in the class gritted their teeth and sweated their way through it, I considered the occasionally sadistic dynamic of this kind of instruction as well as the surging, fleeting satisfaction this seems to bring about for people who choose it.

As lectures at UCD are over for the term, the main body of students on campus at the moment are postgraduate researchers. There are posters on all the noticeboards, hopefully tabbed rows of student phone numbers and emails inviting participation. They remind me how much I also rely on the goodwill of others in generating artworks, trying to find people willing to ask and think through a question together. So I’ve enthusiastically volunteered as a research subject, which has given me the chance to experience lab environments in Psychology (a virtual reality experiment) and Physiotherapy (a muscle fatigue study). It’s been very informative to experience the ‘backstage’ of how other researchers structure their engagement with people and data, particularly the different ethical and confidentiality protocols involved.

I’ve been developing a conversation with Ross Neville (College of Health Science) about the sociology of sport, and have benefitted from reading papers by Anthony McIntyre (College of Humanities) about sport and screen image, particularly his recent work on Conor McGregor. I presented at a PhD seminar led by Lizbeth Goodman, Professor of Inclusive Design at SMARTlab, and in May I made a presentation to the College of Social Sciences and Law Council meeting. I’m very inspired by the new Centre for Gender, Feminisms and Sexualities that was launched in April. The centre is co-hosted by the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice & the School of English, Drama and Film, with Ursula Barry and Anne Mulhall as co-directors. The launch event activated a profound vision not only of intersectional feminism, but also of academic work paired with activist practice.

As I divide my time between artwork and lecturing work (in NCAD), like many academics, the summer tends to be the most intensive and beneficial time for my own research. I don’t like to mystify the idea of an artist’s studio or the work that happens there, but at the same time I have to acknowledge that it is an essential place of generation, before the work can be activated in more public or social processes. In July and August I am focused on making new sculptural work, the kind of thinking that requires days-in-a-row of immersion, of leaving an idea down on a table in the evening and picking it up again the next morning. Materials in the studio include casting plaster and other powders that are used as nutritional supplements. At the heart of this enquiry are fundamentally sculptural processes – of casting and shaping both objects and bodies. As this unfolds it’s been exciting to visit some of UCD’s workshops and see first-hand the expertise of some of the technical staff here, such as Mike Donnelly and Derek Reilly in the School of Engineering – even to discover that UCD houses a foundry! I plan for the works made over the next couple of months to be considered and used later in the year as what Erin Manning would describe (via William Forsythe) as ‘choreographic objects’: physical propositions for different forms of social engagement and political participation.

Images Above:

Sarah Browne, BREAKDOWN, 2017. Peformance, 45 minutes. Performer: Shirley Harthey Ubilla. Photo: Mikaela Krestensen.

Cast replacement knee joint (cobalt), School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, UCD.

By the artist, Jun 21 2017 03:12PM

This month I was focused on completing a new work for a group exhibition in Rua Red, South Dublin Arts Centre. The content of the exhibition centred on digital media and my intention was to engage with this through analogue technology and performative sculpture.

Developed during my time in UCD, Raster explores the interconnected relationships of various materials and elements, through an exchange of electrons. The electrons transmitted by the cathode ray gun inside an analogue television, transfer to the glass and beyond through static electricity. The exchange of positive and negative charges will remain on an object that comes into contact with it until it is neutralised by electrostatic discharge. This discharge is often experienced as an electric shock when it flows through the human body. Raster examines how this flow of charge connects disparate materials and things displayed within the exhibition.

In early June I met with Dominic Zerulla and Peter Duffy in the School of Physics, discussing their respective fields but primarily focusing on solar cell technology and dark matter. This has been very fruitful in terms of focusing my research but also in terms of outlining my own practice and areas of interest to them. I intend to continue my contact with them over the summer months.

Finally an article in the summer edition of the Irish Arts Review came out recently that focuses on a recent work of mine that is in the IMMA collection and currently on view in the exhibition As Above, So Below. It discusses various aspects of my research and highlights the residency in UCD Parity Studios.

Images below:

1. Raster, 2017. Exhibited at RuaRed, South Dublin Arts Centre, May 2017

2. Irish Arts Review, Volume 34, p. 82+83

By the artist, Jun 12 2017 11:20AM

My first two months in UCD were busy with new exhibitions, a solo exhibition at Marabouparken Konsthall, Stockholm titled Report to an Academy, and group exhibitions at Rua Red, Tallaght, and Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, titled It’s Very New School and In/human: The Body as Resource respectively. Collectively these exhibitions explored different processes of ‘biopedagogy’, and the impacts of labour and education on the body.

Report to an Academy is a film essay I developed in 2016 that explores an art school as a Kafkaesque, neoliberal workplace, where language is a tool of conflict. It’s an adaptation of the Kafka story of the same title. In the original story, an ape delivers an address to a gathering on his transition into human life, but within this film, the protagonist is an octopus who tells us of her motivation to escape her human form in the search for new, nonverbal forms of expression and agility. This year I developed a series of workshops to activate the concerns of the film, titled Argument from silence. These workshops were carried out with staff and students at the Royal Institute of Art and Konstfack, Stockholm, Glasgow School of Art (top photo below), and finally at UCD throughout March, as part of the Work Smarter Together programme (second photo below). The workshops explored the possibilities of academic free speech through activities such as making echolalic poetry from existing language within the building, and creating objects from objections by casting the insides of our mouths.

In the last month or so I've started to settle into a rhythm of work at UCD and am beginning to see how different threads of the research might separate out into different projects and production opportunities. I've also been greatly enjoying rich conversations with staff and faculty across the university:

Fred Cummins based in Computer Science and I talked about ventriloquism and choral speech.

Donal Holland showed me some of his and colleagues’ work in biomedical engineering, rehabilitation devices and soft robotics. Animal physiotherapist Maria Lopez Garcia showed me around the veterinary hospital, an environment that's left a deep impression on me. With Diane Negra, head of film studies and screen cultures we discussed her recently co-edited book, The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness – I was really excited to discover this while wandering around the corridors of Newman House one day, and it's been very helpful in thinking through some questions of vulnerability and its representation.

I came to UCD wanting to explore legal thinking further, and to get a firmer grip on legal theory, particularly in the area of human rights. In this semester I've been very lucky to sit in on seminars led by Liam Thornton (on cultural relativism versus universalism in human rights discourse) and to participate in the human rights clinic for Masters students led by Maeve O'Rourke. This is a really exceptional learning environment where a small group of students engage in practical legal work alongside theoretical exploration, extending Maeve’s existing work with the Justice for Magdalenes campaign, including the Dublin Honours Magdalenes Project.

Soon after commencing the residency at UCD I was awarded one of South Dublin County Council’s In Context 4 public art commissions, which will commence in 2018. I’m hoping to begin building the community of interest for this project while developing work here in the university.

By the artist, Sep 5 2016 10:41PM

In June I had two solo exhibitions opening in two locations, Dublin and Basel in Switzerland. They opened within a week of each other and each exhibition was a unique presentation of new work. I spent most of my time during these months working on these projects.

In Balzer projects in Switzerland my project 'A cause for concern, but not alarm' included a collection of new work: Three solid stone sculptures made from Iberian green marble, each depicting Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, diagrams of Nuclear reactor systems cut out of Irish Slate stone, and a digitally printed wallpaper depicting the outside storage tanks at Sellafield that were published in Ecologist Magazine in 2014. I traveled to Basel in June to attend a launch and spent several days in meetings during Art Basel which was also on at the same time.

Ryou Un-Maru was my solo exhibition in the Project arts centre in Dublin which ran from 10 June 2016-13 August and was curated by Tessa Giblin. In the gallery we recreated a replica of the boat Ryou Un-Maru. This Japanese fishing boat was swept out to sea during the devastating Tōhoku Tsunami that followed the 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of the country in 2011.

In its wake, the vessel floated unmanned and unnoticed through various territories and international waters for 391 days, until it was detected and sunk in American waters off the coast of Alaska. The installation included remaking this boat ( meters long by 3.5mt wide by 4 meters high) as well as a new film animation, 'Three hundred and ninety one days' (6:51), (391 seconds long) mapping the currents of the pacific ocean and the Kurosho current. A final video work “A dark colour I had never seen before' (12.10.) Was a silent film with excerpts of the survivor stories from the Tsunami. A primary guide for this work was the book SURVIVING THE 2011 TSUNAMI:100 Testimonies of Ishinomaki Area Survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake, (2014) by Sanriku Kahoku ShinpoÌ"sha. And Dr Hitomi Nakanishi

a short video of this project can be seen here


My work is also being presented in a group exhibition in The Hugh Lane gallery: The Artist as Witness in Society: Collection Until 2 October 2016, curated by Jessica O'Donnell.

One of my sculptures was also presented in Portraits of a Nation, the OPW state collection in the Farmleigh Gallery, Phoenix Park, Dublin, from the 8 April to 29 May.

One of my sculptures 'This short-term evacuation' was also presented as an invited artist in the exhibition Place and Absence, in Visual Carlow. Running for 10 days at VISUAL and St Patrick’s College, in a quick burst, this exhibition celebrates the energy, creative power and diversity of visual arts practices in Ireland. It features work by artists selected from open submission as well as 5 invited artists; Stephen McKenna, Denis McNulty, Aideen Barry, Jaki Irvine and Brian Duggan.

This year ART WORKS has been selected by Annie Fletcher, Senior Curator, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven & Claire Feeley, Producer Barbican, London.

Image below: Ryo-un Maru U.S. Coast Guard, photo by Petty Officer 1st class Sara Francis

By the artist, May 30 2016 11:21AM

April/May 2016

UCD School of Law lecturer John O’Dowd has been working with me on the subject of Ethics & Consent (in Ireland) and sharing knowledge on The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (1). It’s wonderful he’s also shared with me his contacts in further Irish Universities of lecturers with specialist knowledge in this area. I’ve recorded our discussions, and plan to come back to this later in the year, to dove-tail it with other aligned research.

Dr Mark Coen has been really helpful in assisting me in my research into prostitution, and I have several contacts to chase up … exciting!

UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work & Social Justice invited me to present a lecture as part of the ‘Women, Art and Activism: Creative Strategies for Social Change’ course coordinated by Dr Aideen Quilty. This was a really interesting day, with opportunity to witness and discuss ideas of arts and activism, and to question, what is, or can be, claimed as agency within artwork? (mine and others), and what can or might lie dormant? – and why? Lots of potential here.

UCD School of Sociology. I was really pleased that Dr Alice Feldman could be a guest speaker at ‘E.gress in Limerick’. This is a national tour of a film, with a programme of discussion events – and in Limerick, partnered with Limerick City Gallery of Art, Dr Alice Feldman was joined by Dr Tracy Fahey (LSAD) and each spoke about the artwork, particularly in relation to thoughts on ethics and risk. Great presentations, conversation and each prompted lots of discussion afterwards.

UCD School of Philosophy, Applied Ethics /Death. I’ve been attending more great Philosophy lectures on Applied Ethics by Dr Christopher Cowley, further examining ethical issues surrounding human death. Classes have been exploring the complex issues of Euthanasia and Mercy Killing. Loads to think about including questions of:- Should euthanasia (in some form) be legalised?. Is the Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide Compatible with Good End-of-Life Care?. ‘What is Mercy-killing?. Is ‘turning a blind eye’ ethical?. Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal under Irish law. I’ve made lots more sound recordings. It will take a while to work through these, but there’s exciting potential here. I’m also just beginning to think about the type of visuals which might possibly accompany aspects of these sound files.

What else is happening: I’ve been linking in with a Hospice about a new project potential later in the year. Also I’ve brought the film E.gress to Kilkenny (partnered with Butler Gallery) and it’s exhibition continues at The Model, Sligo. In Dublin I’ve been visiting productions by Brokentalkers and Willfredd (theatre companies using contextual materials to creatively explore issues of institutional abuse and hospice care). At UCD, it was great to attend the symposium ‘Creative Research Practices and Alternative Sites of Learning' for artists, researchers and educators, and also to see the artwork made and chat with students who were part of the 'Tunneling Art & Science 2016' exhibition.

(1) The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 brings about the long-awaited repeal of the Victorian-era Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 and the Marriage of Lunatics Act 1811.

•The legislation demonstrates a seismic cultural shift away from a paternalistic and ‘best interests’ approach towards persons with intellectual disabilities to a right-based approach of choice, control and consent

(March/April 2016)

UCD School of Philosophy, Applied Ethics /Death. I’ve been attending Philosophy lectures on Applied Ethics by Dr Christopher Cowley, which examine ethical issues surrounding human death. So far these have been great, allowing me an insight into deeper thinking around some of the complexity of suicide and intended/non-intended self killing(1), plus also around Dementia, and questions of ‘Why is dementia sometimes called a living death’? and ‘what is the Dementia someone elseproblem?’ (2). I’ve also been atttending tutorials, where in smaller group discussion, some of the questions and thinking are further un-packed. There’s no easy answers! – I think we end up with more questions than answers. I’ve been making audio recordings throughout, and looking forward to having time for listening and editing … towards making a series of sound-tracks as part of new artworks based on death ethics. I’m going to wait until this lecture series is complete before reflecting on gathered materials.

The Human Rights Centre Director Suzanne Egan has been assisting my research of

Human Rights and Film work. It’s wonderful to learn more about The Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards and to view recommended films. Lots here!

UCD College of Health and Agricultural Sciences invited me to present a lecture to 3rd Year Nursing Students as part of their Arts and Health Module coordinated by Emma Finucane. I really enjoyed this, especially discussing with the students about how my artwork and methodologies both do and don’t chime with their strategies and work priorities. Lots of potential.

Feminist & Gender Theory. I’ve been attending Philosophy lectures and student discussions on theories of gender, power, the body and labour presented by Dr. Clara Fischer. These are great, and from numerous topics, it’s particularly theories on ‘Feminism and the Sex Wars’ that I’m keen to explore more. I hope to collaborate with Dr. Clara Fischer, to inform and contribute to a new artwork I aim to make later in the year, exploring aspects of prostitution.

School of Irish, Celtic Studies/Centre for Irish Folklore, National Folklore Collection. I’m continuing to access some wonderful archive materials on Death Traditions held at the NFC, assisted by Anna Bale, Dr McCarthy and Simon O'Leary. Very inspiring!

Alongside … my time at UCD, I’ve been exhibiting my film E.gress in The Model, Sligo, plus touring it to Waterford City Centre, using a mobile cinema; here’s my IMMA artist blog https://immablog.org/2016/03/02/artists-voice-marie-brett-reflects-on-her-filmwork-e-gress/ Plus I was keynote speaker at the Death/Disease/Design symposium at LSAD; exhibited with the Affective Entities show at Cork’s Wandsford Quay Gallery and I’ve also been developing new research with Funeral Directors.

(1) Suicide / intended self-killing - Lectures have been exploring the scope of the concept of suicide; asking what can be classed as suicide? If a person does not strictly intend their own death, can their death – by their hand - be classed as a suicide? Is suicide right /wrong /morally indifferent? “some cases puzzle us; not because we do not have all 'the facts', but because we are not sure what to make of the facts we have. Socrates is such a case: Socrates drank the hemlock which killed him. He did not drink it unwittingly or involuntarily: he intended to drink from the cup, knowing it to contain a fatal poison. But this does not show that he intended his own death: for we distinguish the intended effects of a man's act, those which form part of his reason for acting, from those which he foresees but does not intend. Nor, therefore, does it show that he was a suicide: for a suicide paradigmatically intends his own death. … Socrates' intended action as a consequence a judicial execution: he drank the hemlock because this was the proper way of carrying out the sentence of the court; had he not been duly sentenced, he would not have felt bound to drink it. So what he intended was not simply to drink from the cup, but to assist in his own execution.” R. A. Duff. Socratic Suicide?

Can we call a person ‘a suicide’ if s/he persists in an activity (e.g., taking heroin) which s/he knows will very probably cause their own death?

(2) Dementia someone else problem “Advance directives permit competent adult patients to provide guidance regarding their care in the event that they lose the capacity to make medical decisions. One concern about the use of advance directives is the possibility that, in certain cases in which a patient undergoes massive psychological change, the individual who exists after such change is literally a (numerically) distinct individual from the person who completed the directive. If this is true, there is good reason to question the authority of the directive - which is supposed to apply to the individual who completed it, not to someone else. This is `the someone else problem.” David Degrazia. ADVANCE DIRECTIVES, DEMENTIA, AND `THE SOMEONE ELSE PROBLEM'


A shrine to wives of the Maharajas of Jodhpur who committed Sati. Jodhpur Fort, Rajasthan, India. Marie Brett

Smithsonian Institution. AIDS Memorial Quilt on National Mall, Washington 1992

1945 Gettyimages. ‘Body of Nazi Heinrich Himmler lying dead on floor after suicide / newsreel’

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