Hello all, and thanks for visiting.
The outrageous reaction by “the powers that be” to a silly satirical prank, and the questioning under caution of an ordinary teacher and artist, with a file being sent to the DPP, is insupportable.
At the beginning of March 2009, someone placed a painting in the National Gallery of Ireland and in the Royal Hibernian Academy gallery. The paintings were unflattering portraits of An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. Apparently, the National Gallery reported the incident to the police at the time.
On 24th March 2009, The Sunday Tribune publicised the story. The following night, RTÉ Nine News ran the story as an “And Finally” piece at the end of the broadcast. The next night, RTÉ issued a formal apology at the end of the broadcast. For reporting factual events? No, they apologised for any offence caused to Cowen’s family or the office of An Taoiseach. Even though, he’s a public figure, and inevitably liable to be the subject of satire. Interesting.
What followed the next day was a sinister turn: the offices of radio station, Today FM, were visited by a detective from Pearse Street Garda Station, requesting correspondence received on 19th March 2009 from the artist responsible for the portraits. Respectfully, the show’s producer refused to disclose the requested information. The detective advised that he may return with a warrant. Later that day it was revealed that, about 24 hours previously, the artist himself had been questioned under caution at Pearse Street and had handed in five other portraits of various Irish public figures.
Well, fuck that.
Let’s Speak to Power: This blog is part of the online alarm which has been ringing for most of this week, and it won’t stop until “the powers” have got the message clearly.
I’ve circulated an email along the following lines to some people who might be able to help organise a collective, public response:
Most (if not all) of you may be aware of both the outrageous transition of the Brian Cowen paintings palaver from mild satire to sinister abuse of State powers and functions (government and Gardaí); and of the subsequent dismay and anger aired by huge numbers of Irish people online (in blogs, message boards, on Twitter, etc.).
This evening, I suggested that perhaps one response to the affair may be for a public exhibition (or, after some thought, several simultaneous exhibitions, depending on numbers of submissions) of works, by the public, in a similar vein: How about a group exhibition, with works by anyone and everyone, at somewhere like thisisnotashop gallery / seomra spraoi / The Joinery / the Smithfield Gallery / Butcher Queers mag and anyone else (if they’ll have us)?
(Also, it seems that http://www.picturegate.eu is available..)
Not only is the action of the Irish authorities a disturbing development, but personally I view it as part of a creeping trend: from removing the rights of Irish citizens, to effectively halting the work of the country’s equality and human rights bodies, to give just a couple of examples. Now, we have the Constitutional (and international) right to free speech has been curtailed utterly disproportionately and without justification.
Who among us will be next?
This is just an idea. If there’s interest in this idea, however, I wonder whether it would be possible to work quickly to gather submissions for exhibition(s) before momentum on this story slows (within days? Weeks?).
We need to tell the likes of Brian Cowen and his government colleagues that our Taoiseach cannot say, “L’état c’est moi”: L’état c’est nous!
Contact: Fústar at Fústar or myself at clickhere [at] gaelick [dot] com