A week of Dublin culture

Coming back from Berlin a little over a week ago, I was overcome with “grass is greener” syndrome, thinking about all the lovely things we had stumbled across and how much seemed to be going on any given day or night of the week.  However, pretty soon after landing back into work and routine, I remembered that it’s culture season in Dublin.  And so began my week of culture.

On Monday, I received a message from Tanya wondering if I fancied checking out Man of Valour in the Fringe Festival.  Hmm, a one man show featuring the wimpy guy from Raw.  I wasn’t 100% convinced but decided to go along anyway and I was pleasantly surprised.  Paul Reid gives a great performance with sound effects and fluid movements.  The story wasn’t 100% convincing but I really enjoyed it anyway.

Tuesday was the screening of Pearl Jam Twenty, Cameron Crowe’s film which documents the 20 years since the formation of Pearl Jam.  Maybe I’m biased but I absolutely loved it.  I wished it went on for hours more.  It recounted tales from Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron with cameos from Chris Cornell, Neil Young.  Clips of Eddie meeting Kurt Cobain, montages of Eddie climbing stage rigging, Stone discussing memorabilia, Jeff visiting his hometown, seeing how the deaths of those at Roskilde affected the band.  I think the whole film showed how the band has grown & matured since starting out.    Pearl Jam 20 trailer

Thursday brought Arthur’s Day (aka Diageo makes a lot of money day or Arthur’s money-making fest).  I’m not a fan of this gimmicky marketing ploy even though I am a fan of Guinness.  I signed up for the first year of it but when they made it an annual event it took from the whole thing.  I had an anti-Arthur’s day with Patrick for which we went for food and wine and then took in another performance at the Fringe.  This time, Body Electric in Block T in Smithfield.  It took us a while to find Block T, felt a bit silly when we did as it’s marked by an enormous T sign for Tully’s Tiles.  Up the stairs to the exhibition space we were shown to the “Interaction Room” where we waited for the show to begin.  There was a game of operation and some other mind tricking pieces.  We were told that the show would take place behind a black curtain and that it was a promenade show, meaning that we would follow the actors around.  At this point, myself and Patrick were worried that the show would require audience participation but thankfully it turned out not to.  Soon after, a man wearing a military jacket and a top hat appeared barefoot and on a tricycle.  He mimed that phones were to be turned off and photography was not allowed.  We followed him into a massive windowless room where the performance took place.  The show was 4 guys talking about the human body and deals with substance abuse, male/female and suicide among other things.  I quite enjoyed it at times but at other times I didn’t quite see the relevance of what was happening.

Which brings us to Friday 23rd September, Culture Night.  One of my favourite days in the Dublin calendar.  From 5pm, once a year, Dublin museums, theatres, galleries, venues, exhibition spaces, throw open their doors for free and invite the public in to view their projects and places.  We organised to bring a group of students into town and show them a few things before letting them off to queue up for the Wax Museum or the Book of Kells.  We mapped a route which took us from Griffith college, through Blackpitts where we made our first stop off at Red Dog Design where we saw the Eight Trees exhibition and were gifted a print each from the collection.  I got the wonderful “Dublin 8 Tree” which I am looking forward to framing and hanging.

Onwards, to St Patrick’s Cathedral which was charging an entry free – shame on them – and up Francis Street.  In previous years, Francis Street has been busy and buzzing on Culture Night – I remember last year, an ambulance was set up with people from some Liberties Arts group reading inside.  This year, many galleries have To Let signs up or are closed up – two that I remember are Monster Truck and Bad Art Gallery.  Another sign of the times I suppose.  Anyway, we popped into Gallery Zozimus and carried on up to the car park with the graffiti on the walls which the students loved and which I was rather annoyed to be thrown out of (rudely too) by the car park attendant.  Of course the students thought that was great craic.  We carried on to St. Audeon’s Church, City Hall and Dublin Castle before sending the students on their merry way and stopping off in the Italian Quarter for pasta and red wine before continuing on to Smithfield.

Part two of my Culture night took place close to home on the northside.  We took in NAS gallery on the Luas tracks and then walked up to Market Studios where a variety of performances were taking place.  One was a guy writing the word pervert over and over again on a window which could be read from the outside.  Hmmm.  We went in and looked for Tanya who was doing a performance there.  Found her, lying on an operating table, with her partner performing various operations on her including placing condoms on her feet??!!  We watched for a while.  I found out after from Tanya that they recorded the people who observed them which means my rather bewildered head-shaking was seen by them.  Oops but I’m sure they know that it’s kind of off-the-wall stuff they’re doing!  There was lots going on there – I danced with a blindfolded man under a disco-ball and saw some art in the form of typewriters.  Our jaunt around Smithfield continued to The Joinery (closed), The Complex and Block T where we got to make photograms.  Mine was a bit crap but Slavka and Denis made nicer ones.  And that was that.  Exhausted and full to the brim with culture, we settled into Frank Ryan’s for a few creamy pints of Guinness.

Saturday night was a dose of anti-culture in the form of a hen party in Break for the Border but that’s a whole other story.

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