Unleavened was a live performance as part of the Uprooting Tallaght Performance Art Festival. It took place in the main gallery in Rua Red and incorporated found objects, live audio, and fragments of the soundscape from a previous video work titled Suburban Cookie Collector (2018). Composed by the late Al Keegan – local music producer, DJ, and friend of the artist – the soundscape was used as a point of departure, layering, and interweaving the artist’s personal experience growing up in Tallaght with the social, labour, and music histories of the local communities. It explored Tallaght's lost industrial past, from Urney’s Chocolate factory, and the Jacobs Biscuit factory, to the car part manufacturer Packard Electric. Much of this history has been replaced by present-day data centres that now occupy a large area of the very same landscape.
Uprooting Tallaght was the first series of live performance art commissioned by Rua Red. From August 1st to 5th Pauline Cummins and Lauren Kelly curated a week-long series of performances with artists Elvira Santamaria Torres, Day Magee, The Ljilja, Francis Fay, Michael Dignam, Sinéad O’Donnell, Paul Regan, and Frances Mezzetti.
Pauline Cummins’ performance and video work examines the human condition from a feminist perspective. Research-driven themes of the political body, activism, human rights, and gender are often explored in the artist's practice. Lauren Kelly's work speaks about oppressed states of the body and body politics using the unlimited landscape of performance art. Her subject matters are rooted in history, politics and her own personal experiences and she works closely with researchers, archivists and activists.
They invited a group of artists along with themselves to create a series of performances that responds to the theme of displacement and belonging with an emphasis placed on locational context. The resultant work from each artist is personal and individually telling of their own experiences with and relationship to their surroundings. This included performances taking place in Rua Red, as well as at historically significant locations across Tallaght such as Bohernabreena, St. Mary's Priory, and St. Maelruain's Monastery.
The week culminated in a panel event in Rua Red Gallery with curators Cummins and Kelly and rapporteur Kate Antosik Parsons, where they reflected on the week of performance and the wider context of performance in Ireland. This was followed by an improvisational performance jam by the participating artists to celebrate the conclusion of Tallaght's first Performance Art Festival.
"Tallaght is a historical place that is rich in a history dating back earlier than the Bronze Age. All around Tallaght there are traces of archaeological history to be found. The name Tallaght comes from the words támh-leacht, meaning a plague and burial place. The earliest mention of Tallaght is the account of Parthalon in the Annals of the Four Masters. Parthalon the Greek was one of the early invaders of Ireland. A plague killed 9,000 of his followers in one week and they were buried in Tallaght and its environs and so the place came to be named Taimleach Muintire Parthalon. And so Tallaght has stood through the centuries, through settlements and invasions, times of plenty, and times of ruin.
Further out toward the mountains is Bohernabreena reservoir, a place many people in Tallaght walk to for leisure. In ancient times, along the roads of Ireland were public houses of hospitality called Bruideans. Of the most famous of these was the Bruidean Da Dearga in what is now Bohernabreena, or ‘the road of the hostel’. But as we researched the sites we found locks on gates over and over again. As artists this raises for us questions around the idea of ‘Belonging’, and what it means to be part of a place?
As land becomes more off limits, Uprooting Tallaght naturally kneels to open the gates for site responsive performances. Some of the artists selected have origins in Tallaght and some have moved to Ireland a number of years ago. For Uprooting Tallaght we have selected performance artists that range in age, culture and performative approaches. We came together in agreement with the invited artists, including ourselves to create a series of performances that respond to this place.
Each artist has a unique response to the location they have chosen and they have created work that is deeply meaningful. Uprooting Tallaght is about being uprooted, by choice or by circumstances. To be uprooted is to lose touch with your beginnings, a disturbing experience for individuals and for communities.
Who is kept in and who is locked out."
- Pauline Cummins and Lauren Kelly
Photography - Juliette Rowland