Sarah Browne - College of Social Science and Law 2017
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.