New Town Centre Project (Extract #1) was developed in response to the very particular geography of the Blanchardstown Town Centre, Dublin. The resultant immersive installation of photographic slide projections with soundtrack was exhibited in Drioacht Gallery, Blanchardstown. The work explores the subject of the town centre as both an enigma and an emblematic form: a form over determined by significant social and political forces of recent Irish just-past.
Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s “Arcades Project”, New Town Centre Project (Extract #1) presents a rich associative montage of sources and images. Projected photographic images dissolve, flash and are static interweave with the voice of a female narrator, played by Yemi Adenuga, who tells of an unspecified protagonist’s tangential thoughts, reports, anecdotes and quotes.
A confluence of ideas are touched upon, including: retail theory and practice; early photography and the capture of movement; the privatisation of public space; tartan motifs in architecture and photography; urban planning; political corruption; Victor Gruen (the inventor of the enclosed shopping mall); interiors and exteriors; crime; street photography; model making and the meaning of ruins.
As part of the project artist Joe Coveney was invited to conduct drawing and sculpture workshop with 4th class pupils of Scoil Oilibheir, Coolmine using the Blanchardstown Centre as a subject. The alternate ways of producing knowledge of a place were explored in during the workshops and some images of this work are integrated into the installation.
An architectural intervention in the form of a temporary plywood wall in the gallery served to create a darkened space for projected images, the reverse of which was visible from the windows outside the gallery. This intervention resonates with the introverted architectural form of shopping centres and various themes of “interiority” present within in the artwork.
Curated by Carissa Farrell.
Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, 1927 – 1940 (London, Cambridge Mass,) Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999