The Year 2017
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations
Welcome to what is going to be a collective chronicle of the year 2017! This journal will follow the general change that we experience in our daily lives, in our cities, countries and beyond, in the political discourses and in our reflections on the role of artists and intellectuals. Originating from several talks and discussions with fellow artists and thinkers FFT feels the strong need to share thoughts and feelings about how we witness what is going on in the world. Week after week different writers, artists, thinkers and scientists will take the role of an observer as they contribute to this collective diary.
#9 February, 26th - March 5th
February 26th, 2017
Utter silence. Where am I? This happens a lot on tour. You worry you’ve slipped into a coma and this is how the rest of your life is going to be. Hold tight and wait for some hint. Rain. And more rain. Ireland, probably. Ah yes, Monaghan, Annaghmakerrig, at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre on an artists residency programme called MAKE. We arrived yesterday. There are three of us working together on a project currently called The Patient X. By the end of the day that title doesn’t make huge sense.
There are twelve projects in all. We divide into three groups and begin in a group session with the mentor assigned to us, Francisco Frazao. We try to talk our pieces into being. Everyone is searching for the form.
We eat a stupid amount of food. Great food. After lunch we go to our studio and light a fire. The smoke billows back into the room. The smell is beautiful nevertheless. We hear no news. Trump is absent for once. I’m glad of that, he makes me feel reckless. I wanted to say wanton but should check it’s meaning. We are properly away, deep in the countryside.
We discuss the relevance of the films, which are our jumping off point, and then I begin to list dicks I saw but never asked to see. The others seem to think it’s to do with where I’m from, Cork. To be fair there were a lot of dicks, pricks, mickeys, winkies – whatever you call them – when I was young.
Then, between showers, the sun raked through the clouds and we walked still talking/laughing pricks, and what is wrong with people, by the lake, by the globs of frog spawn everywhere, by the hedges on the verge of the road and spring in this borderland where enmity has been managed and suppressed and thanks to stupid fucking Brexit a border is taking deep breaths and putting down roots and finding the old ones are still there, intact. Lurking beneath. ‘Yeah,’ our colleague says, ‘Bombs, burning, places being destroyed, it’s only a matter of time’. He should know, he’s from Belfast.
February 27th, 2017
We show some ideas and read some material to the others in our group and momentarily feel as if we are moving forward. We then work in the studio trying different perspectives and scales of performance, awkward improvisations, and back ourselves into a corner by talking in the same circles. Our walk takes a different route. We hang a right by the lake along a muddy path, which is blocked by a fallen tree. Seems like it’s been there a while. We will not go backwards. The decision is emphatic and we climb through the tree slimy with lichen and moss to be met by barking dogs.
The dogs give up when they see us forge ahead. A cocky little Jack Russell follows for a while then gives up and goes home. We meet nobody. No cars.
After dinner we watch wonderful work from Mariano Pensotti from Buenos Aires and salute the maker with whiskey. Back to our cottage under a sky littered with stars. Snowdrops everywhere. I take yesterday’s fortune cookie from the arse pocket of my muddy jeans – Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you. Beneath I’ve written Bruce Mau – An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. This was from the third mentor, Maiko Yamamoto.
February 28th, 2017
I haven’t kept a diary since I was about twenty so this is very retrograde. Weirdly, the man running this place is somebody I was in art school with when I was twenty. There’s something so lovely about that ease with somebody you know from your formative years. Straight back to where we were. All sorts of memories, people, music, parties. We are alarmingly the same decades later. Our group show their work to each other. There’s something very tender about it and it also strikes me how the work reflects the people so absolutely. I read from my first play – a section about dicks. Maybe it’s me! How recognisable we are through what we make. That said, everybody seems to have had a difficult day subsequently, as my collaborators and I did. Maybe it’s a Tuesday thing. Francisco arrives and we talk through the direction we are going in with him. What a luxury to have these great brains at our disposal.
I have no idea what is happening in the world and have disappeared up my own arse. Sad, as Big Boy Stupid would say. The grass was cut today. Sweet smell of spring. The stars are outrageous again. Happy to be noticing.
View from outside our studio.
March 1st, 2017
I don’t see or read any news. Even though a newspaper is delivered daily I don’t look at it. The conversations are all about the work. It’s all consuming and exhausting. We turn ourselves inside out trying to get on the right track with our idea. Mariano visits us in our studio and tries to help us make sense of the mass of material. We begin to cull ideas and narrow our focus. This was our first free evening and everybody drank way too much. A frog tried to come into the studio.
March 2nd, 2017
How did it become March already? Part of my mind is straying to an upcoming tour of a show I directed to New Zealand. We start rehearsals next week when I get back to Dublin so I spend some time doing some administrative stuff for that. And check what the weather will be like there. Around 20 degrees. Nice.
We get a really great fire going in the studio and my fellow performer/maker; Liv gets serious with a flip chart. We list all of our ideas and try to compost them into something that will satisfy the three of us. I am cranky and hard to please. The process is very intense and utterly draining. We take a break and go our separate ways. I go for a walk and do all the things we were warned not to do – walk in the treacherously slippery woods, alone, without telling anybody, close to dusk. I freaked myself out at one point not sure of my bearings. Came back to the studio with John and Liv and had a great visit from Francisco and Mariano. I don’t want to jinx things but we may be on track. Tonight is the big outing to the pub in a local village. Claustrophobia is setting in and people are anxious to be back in the world. I decide against going, take a bath, wash clothes and write this.
Maybe the title makes sense again.
March 3rd, 2017
I made the mistake of looking at the news. The main story in Ireland is the results of a state-run investigation into mother and baby homes. I’ll paste in a bit of background.
The three-person commission was set up following press reports about a possible mass children’s grave in Tuam. It is examining 14 mother and baby homes around the country, in addition to four ‘county homes’.
Yesterday, a major announcement about the commission’s progress was made, as it was confirmed a significant number of human remains – of children aged up to two and three years – had been found at the site of the former mother and baby home, run by the Bon Secours sisters, in Tuam.
It was announced that the commission had completed two test excavations of the Galway site and confirmed, “significant quantities of human remains have been discovered” in a structure which appears to be “related to the treatment/containment of sewerage and/or wastewater”.
The Irish Mail on Sunday’s story about children’s remains being buried in a septic tank – based on research by local historian Catherine Corless – was published in May of 2014.
The·Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, it’s planned, will make its final report in February of next year.
A press conference is announced on the morning of Friday 3 March.·The Minister speaks to the media, confirming that:
– Human remains were found at site of Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam
– They were discovered in what appears to be some type of sewage chamber
– Scientific analysis has put the age of death at between 35 foetal weeks and 2 to 3 years
– Radiocarbon dating has confirmed the remains are from the time the home was in operation – many are likely to be from the 1950s.
In a statement, the Commission says it is “shocked by the discovery” and its investigation is continuing “into who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way”.
State authorities are asked to take responsibility for the appropriate treatment of the remains and the Minister confirms the North Galway Coroner has been informed. He will determine if there is to be any Garda involvement in further investigations.
796 children and babies where the common cause of death was malnutrition or preventable disease. 796 children of unmarried mothers who were deemed to have violated the honour of their good Catholic communities and had brought shame on their families. Those unfortunate women were hidden in these homes and punished.
Most of the time you go about your business and try to block out what a horrible country this has been to women. Indeed, it still is. Irish women do not have autonomy over their own bodies. The State does not allow abortion and is happy for Irish women to travel abroad to deal with their crisis pregnancies. Today I salute Catherine Corless, the historian who brought these stories to light. Of, course she wasn’t believed at first. But we knew. Everyone knew. This country and the Catholic Church has a rotten history of getting away with murder and eradicating or exporting troublesome women. That’s my resolution - Make trouble.
March 4th, 2017
Today is the day we present our work in progress to everybody else, all three groups, the three mentors and our hosts. Maybe twenty people in all.
Part of our presentation involves a reconstruction of some educational films from the Sixties. We tidy the studio, cobble together a set and select and rehearse three short scenes. We decide to use the toilet in the studio to represent the dressing room where scenes will take place via live video feed. We prepare twenty four Campari and sodas.
At 5pm the showing begin in various spaces in the big house starting with a very beautiful and intimate opening ceremony, which almost has me in tears. That is some achievement. The mini festival continues until dinner at 7pm and resumes t 8.30. We are third up after dinner. We put ice in the drinks, turn on the lamps, line up the music and off we go. It all works according to plan. It works, which is a tremendous relief. The range of work has been exhilarating. Everybody is exhausted. It’s been a full on week. People are ready to go back to their lives. Home with a new piece of work. The sky is awash with stars.
March 5th, 2017
Early start as we need to clear the studio, pack and meet for breakfast at 9am. The bus leaves for Dublin at eleven. Re-entry. It’ll be weird to have to shop and cook again. I haven’t used money for a week. Can’t even remember where my wallet is. What will be nice is to have some personal time and space. Though we’ve been isolated from the world it’s been intensely social. There’s always someone to talk to.
Tonight, the theatre awards. Not sure yet if I’ll go.
I don’t make it. I stay home.
The view from my bedroom.
*MAKE is an artist development programme and residency initiative of·Cork Midsummer Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival·, Project Arts Centre and Theatre Forum.·It is open to Irish and international artists for the purpose of generating new performance work outside of the traditional writer-led model at all career levels.
Gina Moxley is a director, writer and performer based in Dublin. She was dramaturg and director of How to Keep an Alien (Winner Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2014) which is about to travel to three festivals in New Zealand. Gina’s recent theatre performances include Adler and Gibb (Tim Crouch and Royal Court) Midsummer Night’s Dream (Abbey Theatre), The Seagull and Other Birds (Pan Pan) and LIPPY (Dead Centre). Her plays include The Crumb Trail for Pan Pan; Map of M: Revised for Contovento, Rome; A Heart of Cork for Cork Capital of Culture; Tea Set for Fishamble and Danti-Dan for Rough Magic.
#1 January 1st - 8th Jacob Wren
#4 January 20th - 30th Alexander Karschnia & Noah Fischer
#5 January 30th - February 6th Ariel Efraim Ashbel
#6 February 6th - 12th Laila Soliman
#9 February 26th - March 5th Gina Moxley
#11 March 13th - 19th Agnieszka Jakimiak
#12 March 20th - 26th Yana Thönnes
#13 March 30th - April 2nd Geert Lovink
We are deeply saddened by the devastating news that Mark Fisher died on January 13th. He first visited the FFT in 2014 with his lecture „The Privatisation of Stress“ about how neoliberalism deliberately cultivated collective depression. Later in the year he returned with a video-lecture about „Reoccupying the Mainstream" in the frame of the symposium „Sichtungen III“ in which he talks about how to overcome the ideology of capitalist realism and start thinking about a new positive political project: „If we want to combat capitalist realism then we need to be able to articulate, to project an alternative realism.“ We were talking about further collaboration with him last year but it did not work out because Mark wasn’t well. His books „Capitalist Realism“ and „The Ghosts of my Life. Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Future“ will continue to be a very important inspiration for our work.
Podiumsgespräch im Rahmen der Veranstaltung "Die Ästhetik des Widerstands - Zum 100. Geburtstag von Peter Weiss"
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations ist ein Projekt im Rahmen des Bündnisses internationaler Produktionshäuser, gefördert von der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.