On Wednesday morning I installed a pink spray painted female torso on an empty plinth outside Dublin City Hall. Why? Because when I walk around the streets of Dublin I see dozens of statues, memorials and plaques dedicated to the memory of men but very few of great Irish women.
Lets break down the figures:
Of the 54 statues and monuments listed on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statues_in_Dublin (not an exhaustive list by the way) only a handful are women and even at that, two of the most prominent statues are fictional characters, Molly Malone – Grafton Street and Anna Livia (formerly on O’Connell Street). That leaves us with Constance Markievicz – Statue in Tara Street (Bust in St Stephen’s Green), “Two Women” – Lower Liffey Street, Lady Laura Grattan Font – St Stephen’s Green North, An Cailín Bán – Sandymount Strand and Queen Victoria Fountain – Dún Laoghaire (That’s right, a bust of a British Monarch)
Now let’s look at Plaques:
According to Open Plaques (a project to collect & open up data about plaques and people they commemorate) 64 Dublin plaques are dedicated to men, 5 are to (named) women.
Finally, let’s look at Dublin’s bridges:
As my fellow blogger, Panti has pointed out; “Currently there are seventeen bridges between the East Link and Heuston, and all seventeen are named after men. Not one of them is named after a woman”
Also, I have another question, of all the sculptors and designers of these memorials how many were female artists?
The first piece of true ‘artivism’that I did was on the landmine issue. I had been campaigning on Climate Change, Deforestation and other issues for ages, but landmines were different. In comparison to say, climate change which involves a worldwide effort of cutting our addiction to fossil fuels, land mines are man-made by a small number of weapon companies, so ban them outright! Countries like China, US and Russia have dragged to heels for decades to agree to stop manufacturing, stockpiling and planting landmines.
I wanted to do something to mark the International Landmine Awareness Day on the 4th of April each year. I picked the 1st of April as my planting day because if I got nicked by the cops I would use April Fool’s day as a pathetic excuse for placing dozens of fake bombs around a Irish city.
I bought 100 enamel plates and spray painted them army green, then me, xpir and D$ stenciled a skull & cross bones and the words ‘landmine’ onto them in white. I also put a sticker underneath that gave the finder facts about the landmine issue worldwide.
Sunday morning, 1st April we set off, planting 100 around Dublin’s parks and green spaces. I got a friend to come down and take some pictures. The first place we planted them was Merrion Square, just across the road from the Dáil (Goverment’s Building). We then spilt up and xpir and D$ planted some around Phoneix Park, including (outside the American Ambassador’s house and The President’s Mansion).
At lunchtime we met up again fro lunch and my phone rang, (it was a close friend that knew about this project) She said that Merrion Square was closed off and crawling with cops searching the grass on their hands and knees. I thought it was a April fool trick until I went down there and it looked like a crime scene with Police tape and everything.
So I asked a Garda (Irish Police officer) what was going on and it turns out, an American tourist spotted a ‘landmine’ and called the emergency services, when the cops arrived they told him that they were obviously not real and even said it was a good idea!
Artivism, was my first ever show. I had been working for Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment and had been itching to do creative work again after a two year break. I saved some money, bought canvases and spray paint and started to produce some stencils of the thoughts that were going through my head.
The first thing I noticed about Ireland after being away from 10 years was how much money there was about the place. People seemed to be obsessed with designer clothes, luxury brands and status. I wondered what heroes like Michael Collins or Padraig Pearse would think if they were to see how absorbed the Irish people had become in their new found (EU supplied) wealth.