With ongoing and upcoming national anniversary celebrations in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, including the 1916 centenary and the 1912 Ulster Covenant centenary, there is an opportunity to explore how intergenerational memories of divided pasts may be explored through art and the city. But how do collective memories of the past shape narratives of identity in the present? Can art provide a neutral platform to explore questions of belonging for Irish youth across borders?
Using a perceived symbol of sectarianism — the 12th of July Bonfire – UpStart, Sean Harrington Architects, The Abbey Theatre, Poet Karl Parkinson, Kieran Allen, Space&Place Research Collaborative, Geography, NUI Maynooth, Bradóg Regional Youth Service and NEELB will facilitate a cross-border artistic project for teenagers and young adults in Dublin and Belfast to examine and challenge ‘traditional’ understandings of individual and group identities. As part of the launch of an innovative ‘PopUp Park’ on Dominick Street, Dublin, about twenty teens and young adults (aged 14-19) from Belfast and Dublin will contribute to building the park and creating performance and documentary events during a one-week exchange in August 2013. The youth will also participate in facilitated exchanges and collaborative projects that encourage dialogue and debate on many of the lingering sectarian issues (and their complex roots) still evident both North and South today.
Such a project offers young adults a neutral space through artistic and creative workshops to meet and explore their own and collective understandings of (contested) belonging with each other through a range of formats. During this week, the youth will assemble the Granby Park theatre and participate in writing, theatre, movement, photography and video workshops to explore questions of personal and shared identity and history. On-site building activities, historical walks through the city, and other activities will be interspersed with writing, poetry and performance activities. The week will conclude with youth-made posters, slam performance (poetry), and audio- visual documentation of events. Running from the 16th to 22nd August, the project will end with the youth’s participation in the park’s private pre-launch party and the official launch of the park on 22nd August.