These past 10 days, I’ve been knee-deep in research for Troika Fiscal Disobedience Consultancy, a new show by Spanish artist Núria Güell which opened in the gallery at Project Arts Centre last night.
Throughout 2016, the centenary of the 1916 Rising, Project are engaging with acts and idea of ‘rebellion’. Núria Güell uses installation, writing, performance and video for political and social activism, believing that art holds the power to rethink ourselves as a society. Preoccupied by the ever widening gap between rich and poor, some of her projects have included publishing a book that explains how to expropriate money from a bank, entering into a marriage of convenience in order to give legal status to an individual, and creating a company in order to hire a construction worker to demolish doors to enable squatting. For this solo exhibition here in Dublin, she has collaborated with Catalan activist Enric Duran to establish an agency that borrows from the tactics of corporate tax liability systems – in order to advise grass roots social projects on how to practice tax avoidance.
The exhibition screens several films (including Katerina Kitidi and Aris Chatzistefanou’s Debtocracy and Ruaridh Arrow’s How to Start a Revolution). The opposite end of the gallery becomes an ‘office’ for the consultancy, a desk inviting visitors to explore the company website, the wall above it brandished with its logo. I worked on a design for the business cards. Both the desk and business card features a bunch of yellow tulips – a nod to the Tulip Mania which swept the Netherlands in the 17th century, considered the first speculative bubble.
To give a social and historical context for the action of the consultancy, I collaborated with Núria and curator Tessa Giblin to research eight cases of fiscal and civil disobedience. The short texts I wrote and designed became the surface of a coffee table in the consultancy’s ‘waiting area’. The cases came from the distant past right up to the present: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the bus; 18 million citizens of the United Kingdom refuse to pay their Poll Tax; Gandhi leads tens of thousands of followers to disregard the British salt monopoly and harvest their own salt; Charles Stewart Parnell encourages struggling tenants to shun their landlords.
From the dumping of tea into the sea by 200 patriots during the Boston Tea Party in 1773 to a group of independent retailers in a small Welsh town going “offshore” in 2015, I found the research fascinating – uncovering and telling the stories of acts of civil disobedience that have denied unjust laws collectively, publicly, peacefully – realising that Núria Güell and Troika Fiscal Disobedience Consultancy is but the latest in a proud and vibrant history.
The exhibition is one of Frieze Magazine‘s Dublin highlights, and continues until 19 March 2016.
Exhibition photography by Ros Kavanagh. Opening night photography by Senija Topcic.
Just about to send this poster and flyer to print, a design I’ve been working on for Theatre Lovett’s brand new show They Called Her Vivaldi. On the road and in a venue near you from February 2016.
Photo by Ros Kavanagh
Project Arts Centre ART Inside billboard. Summer 2014.
A labour of love for my dear friends Ronan and Mairéad. A harvest cornucopia identity, tied together by Ronan’s mum the jam-maker and Mairéad’s dad the bee-keeper. Two hand drawn maps drew on elements from the wreath, with leaves and wild hedgerow flowers becoming trees, a blossom transformed into a compass. The maps detailed directions from all over Ireland to the church, and the motorcade route from church to lodge.
Mountain by Orla Barry
Project Arts Centre
In Dog Years I’m Dead begins at a 1983-themed 30th birthday party, and ends at a Dutch themed 31st birthday (the international dialing code for the Netherlands is +31. The party tagline: “Go Dutch – and Bring Your Own Beer”). I made graphic props for the show, including these invitations for both events. The 1980s feel of the first invitation made its way to the show programme which you can see here.
Towards the end of the play, Emily and David both turn 30 and are inundated with cards. Wearing playwright hat I imagined this ping-pong oneupmanship of greetings. Wearing designer hat, I made the graphic props to match.
EMILY: Cards came from all over. (Reading) You’re just an eighteen year old with twelve years experience. 29ish.
DAVID: Ested. 1983.
EMILY: It Took Me Thirty Years To Look This Good.
DAVID: Oh No The Big Three Oh
EMILY: Keep Calm, You’re Only Thirty.
DAVID: I got three of those ones.
EMILY: I’m Not Thirty, I’m Three Perfect Tens
DAVID: Age Is Like Underwear, It Creeps Up On You.
EMILY: Flirty Thirty.
DAVID: Dirty Thirty.
EMILY: And probably the most threatening:
DAVID: Thirty down. Thirty to go.
In Dog Years I’m Dead centres on Emily and David, two 29-year olds who meet at a 1983 themed 30th birthday party. When I was researching the production with director Maisie Lee and performer Marie Ruane, we came across a list – Thirty Things Which Turn Thirty in 2013. The list inspired the 1983 party as well as many other elements in the play (a girl dressed as a Chicken McNugget, Microsoft Word, Billy Jean, Glenroe, Return of the Jedi, Grafton Street’s aging cobblestones, Fraggle Rock, Eamon Coughlin’s gold medal at the World Athletic Championships).
I designed and made graphic props for the show, including invitations to the party and 30th birthday cards which you can see here. I decided to replicate the feel of these in the look and contents of our show programme. The cover (above) is a hat-tip to the Wham Bar, a three-decade old confection and a fixture of my primary school-yard. In a less than romantic moment, David pulls a melted pair of Whams from his pocket at the party.
Inside the programme, the palette moves away from primary to pastel. For backgrounds, I used two iconic patterns which for me scream, or more appropriately screech, Saved by the Bell and 80s MTV – Nuwave and Wiggle.
Throughout, I dotted speech bubble quotes about the move to a third decade. I put detail in the footers about the number 30 and things that turn thirty. To fit with the gentle fun we poke at nostalgia, we gathered childhood pictures of the cast, creatives and crew for their headshots, And, for good measure, I wrote biogs for Care Bear and Cabbage Patch Kid, our not entirely inanimate supporting cast.