The Volunteers - Trinity College
PROJECT NAME - 'The Volunteers - Trinity College'
DATE INSTALLED - June 2017
LOCATION - Front Square - Trinity College, Dublin
ISSUE ADDRESSED - Decriminalising Drug Addiction
COMMISSIONED BY - Self Initaited
FUNDED BY - The Arts Council of Ireland & Trinity Creative Challenge
A COLLABORATION WITH - Robert Flood - Film & Gavin Leane - Photography
The Volunteers is a powerful new collaborative multimedia piece of public art and film, the first of a three-part series highlighting the importance of volunteerism in tackling some of Ireland’s most pressing issues: drug addiction, mental health, and direct provision. The project reflects upon Ireland’s century of progress, and asks us what battles we must fight in the present to remake the country for the better.
I chose to focus on the theme of decriminalising drug addiction for this artwork and it’s accompanying short film. ‘The Controlled Drugs and Harm Reduction Bill’ was currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas at the time of installation. Both the Bill and this artwork attempt to humanise the complex narratives around drug addiction, placing treatment as a health issue and not an offence to be punished within the criminal justice system.
This piece of cultural commentary features Rachael Keogh, an advocate in recovery from heroin addiction, Senator Lynn Ruane, author of the legislation, and Fiona O’Reilly, Managing Director of SafetyNet, a primary care service to people who are homeless. The male figure represents the doctor, a role which is frequently secondary in drug abuse intervention due to failed government policy and the mischaracterisation of drug addiction.
'The Volunteers' is about the preciousness of life, and the ways we betray it, as well as the ways that we honour it with our time, passion, and attention. Drawing from the example of the 1916 Volunteers, who made their lives offerings for a new world, this piece looks at those who offer themselves to transform their country in a different way, today.
The short film features a spoken word piece written by poet Erin Fornoff, performed by Ally Ní Chiaráin, and scored by Cian G. Sweeney.
The film is the culmination of the time and effort of twenty people who kindly donated resources and skills. It is directed by multi-award winning director Brian Deane, and shot and produced by Robert Hallinan Flood. It was edited by Eamonn Cleary of TW Films.