Commissioned by Fingal County Council’s Infrastructure Public Art Programme 2017-2021
Collaborators and Participants: Lauretta Igbosonu, Warsame Ali Garare, My Sisters Keeper, Benedit Akemba, Drucille Akemba, Gabriella Ogwude, Ihuaku Igbosonu, Charles Adebayo, Habeeb Adebayo, Joseph Adegbemi and Gbola Olaleye, Lusk Community College Teachers, Emmaleene Leahy, Naomi, Rennicks, Vita Ryan, students, Cornelius Akanbi, Colm Clarke , Finn Corcoran. Karolina Dembowska, Ben Milne Donlon, Laura Dzyuba, Ben Farrelly, Jack Heffernan, Alannah Hanratty, Dultagh Leahy Furlong, Zuzanna Koltarz, Max Lara Leonard, Dawid Les, Shannon McKenna, Adriana Miglane, Elizabeth Osikomaiya, Adam Smith Regazzoli, Emilia Rokicka and Emma Smith, Harry Smith and Henry Umenwa, Lusk Community College Actors, Bobbi Fay, Suzi Signe-Kamegne and Temi Akinbola, Teentalkers Balbriggan, Pastor Thywill, Hannah Alabi and Theresa Babayemi, Production team, Eamonn Murphy, Ken Finnegan, Niall Creaven, Tom Stafford, Quintin Ahern, Killian McDonag, Ferdia McDonnell, Powell, Tobi Isaac, Detail Design and Brian Nolan.
With special thanks to all participants, Fingal Arts Office and Public Art Co-ordinator Caroline Cowley.
Assemble is a trilogy of short films, Can You Hear Us Now?, This Is What We Call Progress and Waiting for Tomorrow reflects on the impact of global migration from the viewpoint of young multi-ethnic people living in County Fingal with a particular focus on Balbriggan. This public art commission explores ideas of how cultural identities are formed and represented in the public realm.
Each of the three films was made collaboratively, taking four months or more to complete each film. All aspects of filmmaking from research to scriptwriting, film treatment, and choice of location was discussed through a series of workshops. At the end of this pre-production process, the same young people assumed the role of non-professional actors as they claim ownership of the narrative.
The films explore the concerns expressed by young multi-ethnic youth growing up in a time of rapid change in Ireland and internationally. The research for each film refers to historical antecedents from Civil Rights in the 60s to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Throughout this discursive process and numerous dialogical encounters, new discoveries are made and incorporated into each script. For example, in the short film Can You Hear Us Now? A group of school students generates a claim for equality within the context of xenophobic Europe. In this sequence, the language and narratives of African slave, Frederick Douglas who travelled to Ireland in 1845 and performed many public speeches on emancipation and freedom were carefully and sensitively appropriated and reworked. The resulting displaced conversation between three young women from Lusk Community College evokes Brecht’s ‘alienation effect’ to make the familiar strange in order to provoke and invite an implicit dialogical encounter with audiences.
The second film is set in the drawing room of 18th Century Newbridge House in Donabate. One of the last custodians of this Anglo Irish Georgian House was Frances Power Cobbe, a writer, social reformer, anti-vivisection activist, and a leading women’s suffrage campaigner. In this sequence, a group of young women, activists from the collective My Sisters Keeper articulate and assert the positive role that African women have played in feminist discourse and human rights.
In the final short a group of young men engage in a conversation about what is at stake for their generation as they reflect on the historical speeches and claims for civil rights and equality espoused by Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X and many others. The film is also a homage to Samuel Beckett’s seminal play Waiting for Godot. Waiting in the context of this film is akin to a ‘permanent state of crisis’ were waiting for change to come is testing the patience of many generations of multi-ethnic young people, especially in light of recent events and the Black Lives Matter global protests.
A specially designed film poster will celebrate the protagonists featured in each film on a prominent billboard site in Balbriggan. There will also be a special print edition which will be placed in public buildings in County Fingal.